porn addiction

Porn Addiction

Few things have changed in my lifetime as much as technology. The first integrated circuit (microchip) came out the year I was born. When I was in college computers took up whole rooms and engineering students stood in long lines with stacks of punch cards waiting their turn. “Porn” usually meant a dogeared magazine with a few images in it. Teenage boys were exposed to a small (by today’s standards) number of images throughout their adolescence. Purchasing a pornographic magazine meant being seen in public and many of us were just not that willing to risk it.

The internet changed all of that. Porn is ubiquitous. The number of images one can encounter is limitless. The personal computer, smartphone, and tablet have created a false sense of anonymity that is seductive in itself. Women are an ever growing audience for porn. A recent study of High School seniors (males) showed 100% had viewed some form of online pornography.

You don’t have to be stuck in a cycle of porn and guilt.

Four Stages of Porn Addiction

Exposure. There is always a first time.  I’m not aware of anyone waking up one morning and deciding to become a porn addict.  Not everyone caught up in internet porn started in childhood or early adolescence; but many did.  Some children become sexualized early. It could be from searching the internet out of normal curiosity or it could be exposure to media that their parents have not filtered adequately. Or, early exposure to sex could be because of trauma or abuse. Regardless of the cause, the earlier one begins to look at porn, the more difficult to overcome problems later in life.

Addiction. One way to think about addiction is continuing in the same behavior in spite of negative consequences. Porn gets the teen in trouble with his parents, the wife in trouble with her husband, and the employee in trouble with the boss. (Yes, the previous sentence does say that women have difficulty with porn… it is not just a male problem any more.)

Escalation. The term professionals use is “increasing tolerance”. In alcohol addiction it takes more and more alcohol to get the same buzz. With porn, it takes images that are increasingly on the fringe in order to achieve the same level of excitement.

Desensitization. Eventually, boredom sets in. There is still a compulsion to look at porn but the stimulation and excitement are no longer there. For some men, this can lead to decreased arousal and erectile dysfunction.

What to Do?
The first step – like most problems – is to admit that you in fact have a problem. Denying the reality of your situation doesn’t help anyone. Neither does blaming. Your use and abuse of porn is not God’s fault for giving you a sex drive. It is not your spouses fault for not meeting your needs. Nor is it society’s fault for making sexual images ubiquitous.

Next is accountability. You don’t need to rent a billboard or tell the whole town, but you can’t do this alone. The greater the secrets the greater the problem.

Finally, use technology to your advantage. If your goal is to find a filter for your computer that will simply not allow you to ever again look at porn… you won’t find it.  You can, however, use technology as a “speed bump” that will slow you down. This won’t solve the whole problem but it will reduce that part of it that is related to impulsiveness. A determined addict will find a way to seek out pornographic images, but at least you will have to work at it.

You don’t have to live with a porn addiction. Counseling can help.

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