What is Pornography Addiction?
Everywhere you look, there is sex. The Internet brought pornography to the mainstream. It’s difficult to ascertain how much of the Internet is dedicated to porn, especially since people are generally not too honest about how much porn they watch. The estimate says that it’s between 5 and 15 percent. And there’s a lot of noise in the numbers, depending on who is providing the data. Conservatives, for instance, tend to bloat the numbers in the effort to sound the alarm.
According to Christian University Education, 2 in 10 of men view pornography while at work. Meanwhile, there are 40 million people in the US who visit porn sites every day. Only 1 in 10 adults has confessed that they have a porn addiction but that number could be much higher.
A survey research by Timothy Buzzell, Drew Foss, and Zack Middleton of Baker University revealed that of the total 134 respondents, more than 3 in 10 of them have downloaded porn from the Internet. About 13% of them have visited porn sites five times a month and 14% of the respondents have downloaded porn more than five times for the previous six months.
Despite the prevalence, watching porn is still considered as deviant behavior by society. It’s not much of a stretch to say that obsession over porn is unhealthy. Just like any addiction, it will have serious consequences for your health, relationships, and life.
Causes of Porn Addiction
What makes porn addiction sinister is that it appears harmless at first. You may think that you’re not harming anybody. You are even protecting yourself from sexually transmitted diseases or unwanted pregnancy.
But when it becomes an addiction, then it will be a problem. Psychology Today defines it as repetitive behavior, which already interferes with the person’s emotional progress, mental progress, family and social relationships, and work.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the cause of addiction because human beings are very complex. But there are risk factors that could drive somebody to be obsessed with porn. In most instances, the stimulus doesn’t matter. If it’s not porn, then it’s gambling, drugs, and alcohol.
The risk factors of porn addiction include:
- Childhood trauma
- Sexual abuse
- Social anxiety
- Verbal abuse
- Physical abuse
To say that you can pinpoint one single cause is inaccurate. But you can lump them according to several classifications, as pointed out by a study:
- Spiritual: Spiritual talks about the higher power and the higher meaning. People have this belief that they have a purpose in this life. When there’s a disconnect between this purpose, they are at risk. The more addicted they are, this disconnect worsens.
- Psychological: Some mental issues precipitate porn addiction. The risk factors have already been mentioned earlier. Sometimes, people are addicted to the anticipation and the secrecy rather than the watching porn itself.
- Biological: You may wonder how people can find satisfaction in porn, and that’s because everybody’s wired differently. Some people get aroused by experiencing their sexual fantasies (and even fetishes) vicariously. Then, there’s the fact that some people are predisposed to be addicted more than others. Call this the addiction gene.
Is Porn Healthy?
Even today, debates are still raging whether porn is an addiction or just a compulsion. There’s a slight difference in the definition between the two. Both refer to repetitive and ritualistic behavior that is often relieve anxiety. However, addiction occurs when the individual could not control the behavior even if it means harming himself. Admittedly, research into excessive porn consumption is scarce to make any type of absolute conclusion whether it’s harmful to the individual. It’s even difficult to answer the question, “how much is too much?”
Some individuals may exhibit what society may think is a porn addiction by the number of hours they are logged on to watch sexually explicit material. But you can’t say they are addicted because they are not manifesting some harmful effects either physically or mentally.This is the same contention in the 2014 study “The Emperor Has No Clothes: A Review of the ‘Pornography Addiction’ Model,” which suggests that society judgment is not really backed by empirical data.
Another study published in 2016 asked 20,000 Australian men who claimed that they don’t experience any kind of health or sexual problem as a result of their porn consumption.On the other hand, you have Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, which studied the effects of pornography on the brain and found out that it directly affects the reward center of the brain, much like what drugs do to your brain.
The debates are showing no signs of slowing down as new research results seem to be supporting both ends of the spectrum. What’s clear is that if the person is exhibiting destructive behavior as a result of porn addiction, it’s time to seek professional help.
Porn Addiction and Substance Abuse
Much like sex addiction, porn addiction is not about the sex itself but rather the compulsive behavior. One of the signs of addiction is the inability to control the behavior despite the destructive results. Porn addiction and substance abuse share this same expression.
Men who have a sex addiction, to include excessive consumption of pornography, oftentimes also have some form of a substance abuse problem. This could be drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes. They also exhibit some narcissistic behavior, social anxiety, mood disorders, and other personality disorders.
Yet another study concluded that people who are addicted to several substances also exhibit some form of sexual addiction. Those who are crack cocaine/cocaine addicts are much more likely to have a co-morbid sex addiction than alcoholics. For co-occurring conditions, rehab facilities offer dual diagnosis treatment, which seeks to address the underlying cause of addiction.
Treating Porn Addiction
The treatment for porn addiction or sex addiction is pretty much similar to what rehab programs offer for substance abuse disorder. The priority in the treatment process is to manage the withdrawal symptoms while the counselor seeks to modify the behavior of the patient.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most common method used to change the patterns and routines of the patient. One-and-one counseling is also available to ferret out the underlying cause of the addiction. Sex addiction support groups also exist, although some people may find it too embarrassing to face a group of people and talk about their porn problem.
Other treatment approaches applied in substance abuse treatment that may be relevant to porn addiction treatment include:
- Holistic therapy
- 12-step program
- Non-12 step program
- Residential treatment
More importantly, after-care programs are necessary to help the patient cope after finishing the treatment program. One of the tenets of after-care is relapse prevention, and this ensures that you don’t go back to your old habits when nobody is looking.