Is Porn Addiction Real?

To a person who struggles with compulsive sexual behavior like using online pornography, there is no such thing as a “little” bit of porn. A little bit becomes a whole lot, really quick. Despite that intimate knowledge of those who have come to realize that they are addicted to such behavior, many people scoff at the idea of the reality or validity of a porn or sex addiction. We’re not just talking the average man on the street. Licensed medical professionals still grapple and even discount the notion that sex addiction is real–as evidenced by the lack of inclusion in the book that all clinicians, researchers, health insurance companies, and policy makers utilize…the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

 

Why the skepticism? Aren’t men supposed to think about and pursue sex? Don’t all men have a collection of porn or look at online pornography? What makes the distinction between a recreational hobby and an uncontrollable desire?

 

 

No Such Thing as a Little Bit” of Porn

A porn addict doesn’t know when to say “when.” In fact, as the addict gains awareness they often realize that there is no such thing as a little bit of anything in anything they do. Once they are absorbed in an activity—like work, a hobby, or pornography—they stay absorbed and have a lot of difficulty in transitioning or shifting gears. All too often we hear our clients talking about how they only started “peaking” or had intentions of looking at porn online for a moment or two before they got back to work. Hours later they would soon realize that they fell back into a trap and their patterns and that their peaking instead turned into more wasted time, more frustration, and more despair.

 

Can a Porn Addict Recognize their Addict Zone?”

We are creatures of comfort and we find comfort in routines. Addicts have predictable patterns and rituals to how and when they act out–unfortunately most are not aware of what these are. When we meet clients, we help them to recognize the familiar patterns in how they enter into their “addict zone.”

 

Common themes include:

* Being alone or creating alone time
* Having unstructured time
* Feeling stressed, overwhelmed
* Feeling like it’s time for a reward or recognition.

 

Make a Plan

Gaining awareness into the patterns is one thing…but what can you do about it to indeed stop? Speaking to the common themes of being alone and having unstructured time, you need to put structure where there is none. In other words, make a plan. We often call this “book-ending” your day with activities and other people. Most addicts isolate and create the necessary space for their acting out behavior (i.e. not following up with other people in either a social or work setting). When the addict notices this pattern, they need to both address their need for doing something constructive and enjoyable as well as holding themselves accountable.

 

The Deeper Issues

Simply making plans and creating structure only addresses the surface issues of porn addiction. The feelings beneath the behavior need to be felt, understood, and investigated more deeply. Why is it that feelings like being stressed or overwhelmed trigger the need to use pornography? To self-soothe? To pass the time? To really deepen the work and change on a fuller level, a person who struggles with a porn addiction should consider working with a trained professional like a therapist or counselor who understands addictions and the recovery process. Help is indeed out there.

 

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