Are You Addicted to Porn?

Are You Addicted to Porn?

There’s no question that online porn is more varied, pervasive and extreme than ever. If you can think of it, it’s out there. It’s particularly attractive to young Millennials, college-age young adults, who are plugged in 24/7. In fact, a 2013 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Research reported that among a group of 813 students from six universities across the U.S., 87% of men and 31% of women 18 to 26 years old watched porn. Of the entire group, about two-thirds of the men and half the women thought that viewing porn is harmless.

As a therapist who works with young adults struggling with addiction — both substance abuse and behavioral addictions — this worries me. I’m seeing more and more young adults who can’t stop watching porn. For someone already struggling to overcome an addiction, porn is especially attractive as an escape.

But is it necessarily bad to cruise porn sites, particularly for someone who could use a diversion from the constant demands of recovery? A large body of research says yes. In just one example, a 2014 study of 487 male college students 18 to 29 years old published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that a constant barrage of hard-core porn seriously hindered arousal and enjoyment of sexual contact with flesh-and-blood partners. The more the user viewed porn, the more it interfered with sexual performance. Research suggests that pornography causes the viewer to become desensitized to sex, and to form unrealistic expectations about relationships, sex, performance and even one’s own appearance.

This is particularly worrisome in young adults in recovery, because recovery is a time when a person suffering from addiction needs to start reintegrating into society and resuming healthy dating relationships.

To be sure, today’s hard-core, graphic porn is extremely addictive. Researchers have found that hard-core porn causes the release of dopamine and other neurochemicals in parts of the brain associated with addiction. Although most occasional porn users will not become addicted, for some, especially someone in early recovery seeking to medicate away the emotional discomfort of getting sober, the dopamine release can be powerfully attractive.

Warning Signs

If you’re a heavy porn user and you’re wondering if you’re addicted, one way to tell is to track your porn use. As a general rule of thumb, if you’re spending more than 10 hours a week looking at porn, you’ve probably got a problem. And if your porn use is interfering with your social life, job or school work, you’ve definitely got a problem. Some signs that you might have a porn addiction include:

  • You’d rather look at porn than go out with your friends or on a date.
  • Your porn use has negative consequences.
  • You’ve tried to stop and can’t.
  • Your porn use has increased over time, you want to do more and more.
  • Your porn use as escalated to more graphic content.
  • You become irritable or anxious if you can’t access your device.
  • You are preoccupied with porn and thinking about it when you’re not doing it.
  • Your porn use is causing you or your loved ones distress. 

Getting Help

If you have a porn addiction, you will probably need professional help from a therapist, preferably with specialized training in sexual addiction disorders. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources and options, including residential treatment and intensive outpatient programs. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been found to be highly effective for the treatment of porn addiction.

There are also 12-step programs for sex and porn addiction. These self-help programs, which include Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous, Sexual Recovery Anonymous and Sexual Compulsives Anonymous, can be enormously helpful in quitting porn, particularly when combined with therapy.

If you’re a heavy porn user, but not yet addicted, you might want to rethink your porn use. Like other types of addiction, it’s a lot easier to prevent porn addiction than it is to kick it once it sets in.

by

http://www.bevillandassociates.com

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