What Is Pornography Addiction?
NOTE: This is a guest post from Lifestar Therapy. While we usually focus on relationships, we believe that understanding more about the effects of pornography can help us overcome the fear of the unknown that leads to misinformation and rejecting those who have had a history of pornography use. While addiction is real, not everyone who views pornography becomes addicted. It is just as important to know that those who do develop an addiction can overcome it and lead happy lives free from pornography.
Pornography and sexual addiction can have a powerful hold on the lives of its victims, but full recovery is possible. Millennials, more than any generation before, have free access to copious amounts of pornography on the internet. Because of this access, they are in more danger of developing an addiction and causing untold pain in their lives and the lives of their loved ones.
Lifestar Therapy will be holding a Facebook Live event on November 7th, 2017 at 7 PM MST. With over 25 years treating addiction, we know the unique challenges of pornography addiction, and we know first-hand that there is hope. We will be talking about what, exactly, pornography addiction is, as well as steps to recovery and what to do if you discover your spouse has been hiding an addiction.
But first, we’d like to share some of the insights that we’ll be going over in more depth in the Facebook Live event. Let’s answer, What is Porn Addiction?
Pornography: A 21st Century Plague
In our technologically advanced world, pornography is more prevalent than it ever has been before. Viewing pornography online is accessible, affordable, and anonymous. Because of this, rates of use and abuse of viewing pornography are at an all-time high.
Many of us associate addiction with drugs and alcohol, not behavior alone. How does viewing pornography turn into an addiction?
The World Health Organization and American Psychiatric Association define addiction as a behavior that meets three or more of the following seven criteria:
Do you build up tolerance for the substance or material viewed only to need more? An addict uses harder substances or more drugs than they used before to maintain the same euphoric results achieved before. A person addicted to pornography views harder material that brings new stimulation to feed the addiction.
- Loss of Control
Obsessive thoughts and actions that interfere with regular daily activities and responsibilities is a sign of addiction. Loss of control often leads to feelings of guilt, shame, and regret.
- A Desire to Stop
Have you tried to stop, but been unsuccessful? This is a sign that you know the behavior is unhealthy, it needs to discontinue, and that it’s time to seek help.
- Time Spent
Addiction causes a person to enter a deep, hyper-focused mental state where nothing else seems to matter, and lose track of time completely. Someone can spend hours, a full day, or at times, lose a full weekend to their addiction simply because their focus caused them to lose track of time.
When a person with an addiction tries to stop, symptoms of withdrawal may include nausea and vomiting, shakes, anxiety, and irritability.
- Negative Consequences
Someone with an addiction continues the behavior or consumption of the substance even though they are aware of the harmful consequences to themselves and others.
- Neglected or Postponed Activities and Responsibilities
Does the substance or behavior occupy your thoughts so prevalently that you forget or ignore real responsibilities? Neglecting real responsibilities can lead to troubled relationships and even losing a job.
Porn Addiction Can Start as A Coping Mechanism for Pain & Trauma to Help the User Feel Less
Unhealthy addictions to pornography often begin not for sexual fulfillment, but to escape and self-soothe stresses and insecurities from depression and anxiety, low self-esteem, or trauma such as neglect, physical or sexual abuse. The user may not even realize the pornography is being used as a coping mechanism.
Pornography is not a substitute for love or relationships. It is bereft of meaningful and fulfilling lasting love. It artificially fills a chemical void when an authentic source is not present to meet that need. The addiction helps the user actually feel less. It dulls the toxic pain from unhealed trauma.
Guilt, Shame, Secrecy and Emotional Detachment
Pornography addiction does not only affect the user, it harms everyone around them. Feelings of guilt and shame usually accompany pornography addiction, and these feelings can cause them to go to great lengths to carry out their addictive behaviors in secrecy. This need for secrecy can cause them to become withdrawn from those closest to them and become emotionally detached from their spouse, children, and friends.
While a pornography addiction is very serious and devastating to the addict and their loved ones, full recovery is possible with the right treatment. Please join us from Lifestar Therapy for our Facebook Live on November 7th at 7 PM MST. Learn how you can take your life back and heal the relationships that matter most.