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Porn Addiction is a controversial topic. While some experts argue that it is indeed a behavioral addiction characterized by an obsessive compulsion to view pornographic materials, others note that porn addicts’ brains behave in a different way than do those of drug and alcohol addicts.

Many studies indicate that porn addiction is genuine, and anyone who’s suffered as a result of the condition knows this to be true. Sufferers equate their obsession with sexual thoughts and behaviors to the desire for a cigarette or a drink. For further proof that porn addiction is, in fact, an addiction, witness the sheer number of men and women in therapy and in-patient rehabilitation because they’ve lost control over their sexual behavior.

porn addiction

Those who remain unconvinced that obsessive overuse of pornography constitutes an actual addiction point to the fact that porn addiction is not recognized in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Psychiatric Disorders (DSM-V.) While this is true, it must be pointed out that the American Society of Addiction Medicine does indeed categorize porn addiction as such.

Signs of Addiction

A study conducted at the University of Cambridge involved scanning the brains of several people who identified as being addicted to pornography. The results showed that when these people were exposed to pornography, reward centers in the brain were activated. These are the same parts of the brain that are activated when a drug-addicted person or an alcoholic take their drug of choice.

Another sign associated with addiction is the inability of a person to cease a particular behavior on their own. According to the Kinsley Institute, nine percent of people who identify as being addicted to porn have tried unsuccessfully to stop.

Symptoms of Addiction

Most, if not all, of the symptoms we have come to associate with addiction, are also related to obsessive overuse of pornography or porn addiction. The following are among the most common symptoms of addiction:

  • Preoccupation with a behavior/activity
  • Unsuccessful attempts to stop
  • Loss of control over behavior
  • Development of a tolerance
  • Increased need
  • Withdrawal

While persons addicted to pornography are likely to experience all of the above symptoms, there are also symptoms specific to obsessive overuse of porn. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Intense cravings to view pornography
  • Spending large amounts of time viewing pornography
  • Becoming irritable or angry if unable to view pornography
  • Needing pornography more frequently, or needing more explicit pornography
  • Lack of interest in intimacy with one’s partner
  • Secrecy regarding use of pornography
  • Sacrificing social life to view porn

Effects of Porn Addiction

An addiction to pornography may be every bit as devastating and destructive as a drug or alcohol addiction. It touches every aspect of the sufferer’s life, from their ability to maintain relationships to their ability to earn a living.

Addiction of any kind can strain even the healthiest of relationships, and an addiction to pornography can prove particularly troublesome in this area. Partners of porn-addicts often feel marginalized, and for good reasons. For one, people suffering from addiction spend less quality time with their loved ones and partners as they devote more and more energy to satisfying their urges.

Feelings of shame and embarrassment accompany addiction in all its forms, and this is undoubtedly the case as regards porn-addiction. Drug and alcohol abuse is often romanticized in movies, music, and television. Such is not the case with pornography, which, despite its widespread use, is still widely regarded as objectionable in modern society. As such, porn addicts find themselves lying to their partners rather than risk losing love and respect.

Another way porn addiction ruins relationships has to do with physical intimacy. People addicted to pornography often become unable to get aroused sexually by their partner. After repeated exposure to pornography, addicts develop a tolerance, meaning it takes a very high level of visual stimulation to become aroused. Also, porn addicts tend to masturbate frequently, thereby diminishing their natural sex drives. Most addicts can understand the damage they’re inflicting on their relationship, but they remain unable to stop.

It isn’t hard to understand how addiction to pornography can make a sufferer’s intimate partner feel marginalized and neglected, and few relationships will long endure the double stressors of deceit and neglect. Relationships aren’t the only things that suffer as a result of porn addiction, though. Many porn addicts have trouble earning a living as the demands of addiction lead them to miss work or, worse, to view pornography on the job. According to a 2013 article in Forbes Magazine, fully twenty-five percent of adults admit to having watched pornography at work.

Treatment

Porn addiction is a severe condition. If left untreated, it can negatively impact every aspect of a person’s life, from their relationships and ability to earn a living, to their mental and physical health. The good news is there is help available.

Obsessive overuse of pornography is treatable in much the same way drug or alcohol addiction is. Effective treatment must address not only the addiction itself but any contributing patterns of thought and behavior. As such, pharmacological treatment is administered in conjunction with psychosocial therapies, including cognitive-behavioral therapy. Studies and statistics show that people suffering from porn addiction respond well to this two-pronged approach.

People addicted to pornography also benefit from support groups and even twelve-step programs like “Sex Addicts Annonymous.” Such organizations help sufferers understand they’re not alone, and help them to recognize and identify specific triggers.

Often addiction is associated with other mental and emotional disorders. Depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and post-traumatic-stress-disorder are conditions commonly linked to addiction. Because of this, dual diagnosis treatment centers are often best equipped to deal with addictions of all types, including porn addiction.

Don’t let obsessive overuse of pornography destroy your relationships and your life.

Porn addiction is treatable, as is any addiction. If you or someone you love is suffering from porn addiction, be sure to seek help today.