What is Porn Addiction?
Addiction is usually a habit that is recurring and compulsive in nature. It is useful to think of addictions as a habit or routine we tend to have little control over and keep returning to it regardless of its negative influence on our lives. Porn is freely and more easily accessible than ever before, and it has become a readily accessible means of attending to sexual desires.
Watching porn compulsively whilst engaging in sexual activity without regard to potential negative consequences, can be deemed as porn addiction. Pornography addiction is often confused with sex addiction. They are both addictions and are both related to sex, but they are different from each other. Sex addiction often has a desired outcome in intercourse, whilst pornography addiction might imply a need to watch explicit material without the need to have intercourse.
Men and women access pornography
In some studies, a vast majority of the men report having viewed pornography at some point in their life. A majority of these men first access porn in their teen years. And the chances of it becoming a regular and recurring habit, or even a compulsive one, remain quite high.
There is a growing trend in women using porn. Pornhub, the largest porn website in the world reported that in 2019, 32% of their traffic was from women. A 3% growth from the previous year.
Insider reported that during the Coronavirus, Pornhub's traffic volume growing by 11.6% at the start of the pandemic. This peaked at 24.4% on 25th March.
How does porn addiction start?
The addiction never starts in an obvious way. It is a habit that is acquired, probably at a young age, through curiosity or peer pressure. But, with repeated usage over time, grows to become an addiction.
The habit is usually sustained by an unmet emotional need or some kind of emotional pain. In that way, it is similar to alcohol or drug addiction.
It is possible to end up in a cycle of dependency created and intensified by the usage. Repeated attempts to disengage with it can end up making things worse if they are not successful. Self-esteem and self-worth are lowered as failures set in. And the need to feel better or to re-engage in the addiction becomes stronger.
It is worth noting that American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 does not recognise sex or porn addiction as a disorder. However, the WHO International Classification of Diseases now includes Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Disorder.
How does Porn affect relationships?
Porn is a common source of conflict in relationships. Particularly where one person has been hiding its use from the other person. Or if one person is disapproving of porn usage for personal values, considering it to be immoral in some way.
Porn usage can be deemed to be an act of infidelity. There is often a sense of secrecy, deception, and heartache around porn in the relationship. The dispute around porn can be representative of some larger issues in the relationship.
Porn usage often comes with feelings of guilt, shame and low self-worth for the user. In the partner, this can generate feelings of anger, rage, betrayal,
Overcoming the addiction
The first step to dealing with the addiction is to acknowledge that something needs addressing. This is the hardest step of them all. Admitting the problem and taking the first step towards overcoming it will start the journey to healing.
You can try to do this yourself. You might want to try and detect a pattern in your usage. Maybe you are feeling a certain way (e.g. stressed or anxious), or something going on in your life that may be increasing your usage, or time of day. If you have already done this before and it has not worked then maybe you need to speak to a counsellor who is experienced in dealing with such issues.
How I can help you
I can work with you to understand and work on your compulsive behaviour or addiction. There is usually a two-part strategy to this.
In the short term, I will try and see if we can find a pattern and help you look at ways of disrupting it. Sometimes the pattern is evasive, and I may ask you to monitor your feelings and mood to detect the pattern. Developing coping strategies is the prime objective in the early stages.
I then work with you to understand some of the root causes of the addiction and help you work through them. This generally tends to be deeper work as the reasons are not always straight forward and obvious.
I offer counselling for sex or porn addiction online on zoom and in my offices in Waterloo and Hampton.