Porn Addiction – Not So Taboo

porn addiction

Pornography – often shortened to ‘porn’ or ‘porno’ when being discussed in a colloquial setting, has become just a much a part of American culture as, say, apple pie. In so many words, pornography is the portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purpose of sexual arousal, often associated with and involving masturbation.

Being introduced to Playboy Magazine at an early age seems almost a right of passage for many men – and for most, the introduction does not stop with printed materials (which some may consider old-fashioned). The majority of pornography in circulation nowadays can be found online, though it may be presented through a variety of media, including books, postcards, animation, sound recordings, film, video, and even video games. The booming ‘porn industry’ has been featured by popular media since the 1970s, and several feature-length films have been made about the lives of porn stars and the massive role porn plays in American society.

For many, pornography is a still-taboo subject, one that may be a little too intimate to discuss. Numerous groups and organizations have labeled pornography as ‘immoral’ and ‘unscrupulous’ – some religious groups even consider it to be evil. For others, pornography is simply a fascinating component of what has certainly become a very sex-obsessed culture.

For still others, it is part of a serious, all-consuming, and wholly devastating behavioral dependency.

Porn Addiction – Facts and Statistics

It can be difficult for some to wrap their minds around the severity of porn addiction, seeing as the use of pornography has become so pervasive in American culture. Here are several statistics to highlight just how pervasive:

  • Over 40 million American adults visit pornographic websites on a regular basis (at least once or twice per week).
  • Over 20 percent of men admit to viewing pornography while at work.
  • 1 out of every 5 internet searches on a mobile device are for pornographic content.
  • 88 percent of porn scenes contain physical aggression, and 49 percent contain verbal aggression.

Pornography addiction, a subset of sex addiction, was not officially recognized by the fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), but this does not mean that the disorder does not have devastating consequences for the afflicted. While watching or viewing porn does not pose a threat to everyone, just as drinking or gambling does not pose a threat to everyone, some individuals who begin watching porn casually will soon find themselves unable to control their impulses. Take a look at several telltale signs and symptoms of porn addiction to help you better determine whether or not you or you loved one may need to consider seeking outside help.

Signs and Symptoms of Porn Addiction

You may be combatting a serious porn addiction if:

  • You watch porn excessively – more than you consider healthy, and to an extent that watching porn begins to interfere with your day-to-day activities, responsibilities, and interpersonal relationships.
  • You compulsively masturbate, which also interferes with your day-to-day tasks, relationships, and responsibilities.
  • You find that you spend more time searching for porn now than you did when you first began watching – this is considered ‘building a tolerance’. Just as an alcoholic will need to consume a greater amount of alcohol in order to experience the same effects after awhile, the porn addict will have a more difficult time finding pornography that adequately arouses him.
  • You feel anxious or distressed when you have been separated from pornography for a substantial amount of time, or if you know that you are entering into a situation in which porn will not be accessible.
  • You continue to seek out pornography despite clearly connected negative consequences (such as relational issues, health issues, and problems at work).
  • You have been experiencing sexual dysfunction (such as impotence or premature ejaculation).
  • You watch porn as a method of altering your mood, or distracting yourself from current circumstances.

Porn Addiction Recovery

Because pornography itself is often thought of as a taboo subject, many porn addicts do not come forwards and seek help, for fear of being judged or condemned. In reality, porn addiction is just as common and understandable as any other behavioral addiction (more common amongst men, in fact). Like other behavioral addictions, such as gambling, shopping, or playing video games, a certain behavior is ‘reinforced’ or rewarded, leading to a compulsion to engage in the behavior more frequently. A gambling addict, for example, may experience a rush or a ‘high’ while placing a bet. Dopamine is released into the neuropathways, and the gambling addict feels good. We like feeling good. Sex usually makes us feel pretty darn good, because it releases dopamine while tapping into our very basic, instinctual sex-drives. When we masturbate, we are accessing a fundamental and natural drive. For individuals who have suffered relational trauma, releasing this natural drive via pornography is often much easier and more appealing than attempting to find a partner. The problem occurs when seeking pleasure in this way becomes excessive, impulsive, or begins compromising personal relationships, responsibilities, and values.

There are many potential contributing factors when it comes to the development of a porn addiction. Factors may be biological, psychological, or social. It is important to keep in mind the fact that many porn addicts simultaneously suffer from a co-occurring disorder, thus comprehensive, long-term treatment is often a necessity. We at Next Chapter have extensive experience treating male patients who suffer from porn addiction in conjunction with another addictive disorder, a mental illness, or unresolved trauma. For more information on our highly individualized program of recovery, please feel free to contact us today.