Pornography Addiction

Watching or consuming pornography might seem like something you would never think most people would do. Still, studies estimate that on the contrary, 86-96% of men regularly watch pornography, while numbers for women are just slightly under. 

Do not get the wrong idea though! Despite the stigma surrounding it, viewing pornography can be beneficial for self-exploration, sexual education and maybe even improving intimate relations with one’s partner. However, if one’s habits of viewing pornography negatively impacts their daily life, it could be an issue. 

 

What is Pornography Addiction?

Pornography addiction has yet to be formally recognised as a diagnosable condition. However, it is usually described as “problematic pornographic use” and can be seen as a form of disordered behaviour.

Those with a pornography addiction might crave it even after attempts to reduce the urge. These people might feel that the need to view pornography restricts their school, work, or social life. Viewing pornography might even take over other interests that they used to have. For more serious cases, they might even feel the urge to watch porn regardless of where they are, even in public places or at work.

However, it is important to note here that not all researchers agree that the act of watching porn amounts to an addiction. For example, the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) have decided that there is an inadequate amount of evidence to label porn addiction as a mental health condition.

 

How Do You Know If You Are Addicted?

Addiction to pornography can lead to behaviours such as:

  • Spending excessively on pornography at the expense of necessities
  • Partaking in risky sexual behaviour, including watching pornography in situations that could lead to negative consequences, such as during work 
  • Using pornography as a coping method for negative emotions like sadness
  • Reacting negatively (e.g., with anger) when told or advised to cut down pornography consumption
  • Inability to quit watching pornography despite making attempts to
  • Constant advancement to more extreme forms or levels or pornography to find pleasure, including increasing the time spent watching pornography
  • Constantly trying to hide one’s pornography-viewing habits from others

 

What Causes Pornography Addiction?

Like phone and social media addiction, many have attributed pornography addiction to ease of access. A quick search online is sufficient for many to access pornographic material. However, ease of access does not explain why some experience addiction while others do not. While there exists limited research on the causes of pornography addiction, some other factors that could contribute are:

✽ Brain Chemistry: An individual’s unique brain structure or chemistry may increase their susceptibility to addiction.

✽ Stress: The presence of existing stressors may lead to some turning to pornography as a form of coping or escape. 

✽ Relationship Problems: It is possible that issues in an intimate relationship can result in people turning to pornography to cope with or manage their sexual desires.

 

How does Pornography Addiction Affect an Individual?

Pornography addiction can result in effects similar to those seen in other substance and behavioural addictions. Other than that, it also has detrimental effects on relationships. 

✽ Intimacy between partners

It has been observed that men who experience a pornography addiction tend to withdraw emotionally from their partners. These individuals are also at risk of developing depression, or secretive traits that might strain the relationship. 

These can greatly decrease the intimacy that couples experience in their relationship, which is one of the main factors for relationship satisfaction.  

✽ Self-Esteem of Partner

For partners of those with an addiction, witnesses their partners withdrawing intimately and preferring porn over them to satisfy sexual urges could be a hard blow to their self-esteem. They might start to question their sexual abilities, and this questioning can spill over to other areas of their life as well. Over time, this could lead to stress and pressure that could be difficult to handle.

✽ Satisfaction from Sex

Pornographic films have been engineered for the actors and sexual acts to appear more enticing and pleasurable. When one views pornography excessively, they could start to make comparisons between pornography and the sex life they possess. This could even lead to dissatisfaction with the attractiveness of their partner. 

✽ Daily Functions

The uncontrollable need to watch porn could interfere with one’s ability to work or rest. being more important than client meetings or even time to rest. It can obstruct productivity during work or social activities like going out with friends. 

 

Is there Treatment?

Due to the lack of research and information surrounding pornography addictions, treatment options are limited. However, due to its similarity to other addictions, there are some adopted methods.

✽ Medication

Medicine that is commonly used for alcohol dependence and opioid addiction can be used to manage pornography addiction. The medicine can stop the craving and satisfaction obtained from watching it. 

✽ Therapy

Talking to a mental health professional can help equip one with skills to manage the negative emotions and behaviours associated with pornography addiction, such as guilt, compulsion, and emotional or intimacy challenges.

 

If you know someone who may experience pornography addiction, it is important to understand what the person is going through, reach out to them and help them along the way. Encouragement may give them the will to seek the help they need while shaming them might only push them further away.

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