Pornography addiction is an obsessive need to view sexually enticing images to the detriment of actual human interaction. This addiction can lead to multiple consequences, such as medical, social, and legal consequences.
A general definition of any addiction is behavior repeated over and over again despite negative consequences to oneself or others. Once a person becomes addicted to an activity, behavior, substance, or feeling, he or she will usually require some form of intervention to stop the addiction. Pornography addiction, a type of process addiction, is predicated upon an ever-growing need to see sexually explicit images.
Pornographic addictions are viewed as part of a larger group of symptoms called sexual addictions and are specifically considered process addictions. Process addictions are addictions to an activity or process. Other process addictions include gambling, compulsive shopping, and overeating.
Statistics indicate that a large percentage of those who suffer from a pornographic addiction, including an internet porn addiction, will suffer the loss of a marriage and career. Similar to what occurs in drug and alcohol addiction, neurochemical changes occur in the brain which contributes to the maintenance of pornography addiction.
A pornography addiction can create signs and symptoms that directly impair normal, day-to-day, functioning in those who suffer from it. Most notable are legal issues such as viewing illegal pornography, or social issues. Those addicted to pornography may have limited sexual relations with their partners or otherwise strained relationships. Other interpersonal relationships are also affected due to time spent in isolation viewing pornographic images.
Signs and symptoms of porn addiction include:
- Obsession with pornographic materials (including internet porn)
- Increasing focus on viewing pornographic material
- Decreasing time spent doing other activities
- Decreasing time spent with others
- Increasing time spent using pornography in self-satisfying sexual behaviors
- Decreasing time spent attending to personal responsibilities and relationships
- Increased risk of unprotected sexual encounters
- Use of drugs or alcohol to heighten sexual experiences
Consequences of porn addiction include:
- Intimate relationships are severely damaged or end
- Increased sense of self-shame and guilt
- Interference with work or school productivity including loss of career
- Financial insecurity
- Legal Troubles
- Greater risk of dissolution of marriage
- Increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases (Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, etc.)
- It is best to seek appropriate help at a pornography addiction treatment center that can address all accompanying problems.
Addiction distorts brain functioning. It alters the naturally produced neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate communications between the cells, the muscles, and the organs. Pornography addiction needs to be treated by medical professionals knowledgeable about addictive behaviors.
There are two sides to addiction: the physical and the psychological. The emotional aspect of this addiction must be examined closely and treated if a return to healthy sexual behavior is to occur. Individual and group therapy coupled with family therapy (if the family is involved) is as crucial as the attention paid to the physical addiction.
Withdrawal symptoms may accompany the cessation of behavior associated with porn addiction. An addict needs to learn about the nature of addiction, the “people, places, and things” concept that can trigger a return to addictive behavior, stress reduction techniques, self estimable behavior and a host of other addiction-related issues that can help a person manage abstinence.
Oftentimes, an individual suffering from this addiction will also suffer from a mental health disorder such as depression, anxiety, antisocial behavior, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or a drug or alcohol addiction. Under such circumstances, a proper diagnosis is necessary to treat all addictions and mental health disorders.
Pornography addiction treatment may fall under the broader treatment protocol of sexual addiction treatment. A person’s mental and physical health will determine whether inpatient or outpatient treatment is appropriate. If the addict suffers from a mental health disorder and/or drug or alcohol addiction as well, medications such as anti-depressants (determined by a full evaluation and diagnosis) may be prescribed. Porn addiction treatment provides addicts with the knowledge to make healthy, life-affirming choices.
Most insurance companies will not cover pornography addiction treatment like they do drugs/alcohol in drug and alcohol rehabs. However, there are a few self-help organizations that can help guide an addict through recovery. Sex Addicts Anonymous and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous are two 12-step programs addressing this addiction.
Pornography Addiction Self-Test
Pornography addiction is defined as the compulsive need to view erotic images despite destructive consequences. The pornography addiction self-test below can help you determine if you or a loved one is struggling with a pornography addiction. If so, addiction treatment can help you or your loved one break free of the bonds of the addiction.
If you suspect that you or a loved one may be addicted to pornography, honestly answer yes or no to the following questions:
- Do you feel guilty or ashamed after looking at pornography?
- Do you look forward to being alone so you can look at pornography?
- Has pornography negatively affected your personal relationships, your job, or your finances?
- Do you find that you have been looking at an increasing amount of pornography over time?
- Do you look at pornography when you are bored, anxious, or lonely?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, it is possible that you or your loved one is addicted to pornography.
A quality addiction treatment program can provide appropriate therapies to individuals struggling with pornography addiction after assessing their individual needs. Treatment can help afflicted individuals prevent relapse and build a strong foundation for recovery.