While research indicates that we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg regarding porn addiction problems, evidence is mounting that this addiction can exacerbate existing mental health issues. Here’s seven porn addiction signs.

 Man showing signs of porn addiction

 

The World Health Organisation now formally recognises sex addiction in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Disorder. Porn addiction is one prevalent behaviour that can be identified within the broader sexual addiction framework.

Current research indicates that we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg regarding problems associated with porn addiction. Studies currently estimate that between 86% – 96% of men regularly consume porn, with women’s usage not far behind. With limited porn addiction treatment programs available, therapeutic treatments are in high demand to limit the damage porn addiction can have on the daily lives of so many.

Like other addictions and dependencies, porn addiction can negatively affect your personal and professional life, including your mental, physical, social, emotional and spiritual health. Addiction to porn can also have detrimental effects on romantic and sexual relationships.

 

Problems with porn addictions

Porn addictions can lead to significant adverse outcomes for the individual experiencing the addiction and their loved ones. As with any addiction, a lack of ability to control one’s behaviour can lead to a sense of powerlessness, the need to self-medicate, isolation, secrecy, dishonesty in relationships and more. Approximately 5 – 8% of adults are believed to be addicted to porn, spending between 11-12 hours per week viewing porn. With more men classified as porn addicts than women, a 2012 study discovered that men’s porn use can lead to lowered self-esteem for their wives and girlfriends, and 56% of divorce proceedings cite an ‘obsessive interest’ in pornographic websites. Over 40% of people identified as sex addicts lose their spouses, 58% suffer considerable and detrimental financial losses, and approximately 33% lose their jobs as a result of their addiction. Porn addictions can also become extremely costly, with some addicted individuals paying large sums to access specific porn services, including live webcam pornography.

 

Couple going through problems relating to porn addiction

 

Porn addictions can be particularly isolating, as many individuals do not disclose their porn addiction and may not see it as a problem in some cases. Nowadays, porn viewing has become ‘normalised’ for many people and two common sentiments are “everybody watches porn” and “it does not hurt anybody”. However, these sentiments can be problematic for individuals struggling with porn addiction within a committed, monogamous relationship. Questions of infidelity may arise as to what does and doesn’t constitute a breach of trust within the boundaries of each particular relationship. For example, many partners of porn addicts experience feelings of betrayal in knowing that their partner is devoting time and energy to seeking sexual arousal and pleasure outside their own relationship.

 

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‘Escalation’ is a particular issue with porn addiction, as individuals feel ‘driven’ to access more extreme versions of porn in order to achieve the satisfaction they previously experienced. Due to the nature of addiction, individuals need more and more to receive the same ‘high’ as they did before. This escalation is primarily due to the reward centres in the brain becoming accustomed to the level of stimulation and associated arousal from porn viewing.

 

Man experiencing porn addiction problems

 

Such escalation can result in problematic behaviour – such as in-person affairs, meet-ups, or the use of illegal pornography. Relationships are often damaged as individuals may ‘act out’ within a relationship, disengaging from their real-world physical and emotional connections as they seek more extreme highs within a relentless cycle of porn usage.

Excessive use of porn can also impact sexual arousal, with studies showing consistent links between high porn consumption and erectile dysfunction.

If you’re unsure whether you may be addicted to viewing porn, or if you are looking for support for a loved one, below are seven signs that may indicate a porn addiction:

  1. The use of porn to cope with difficult emotions such as anxiety, depression, boredom, loneliness or sadness. If porn becomes a coping mechanism, or a bid for escape from such emotions, this can point to a growing addiction.
  2. An inability to reduce or quit porn usage, despite repeated attempts. If you can no longer control or limit your porn usage, this is a strong indicator of addiction.
  3. An escalation in terms of time spent viewing porn and/or the extreme nature of the porn. Many people who regularly view porn find they need more and more stimulation to achieve the ‘high’ to which they’ve been accustomed. Sadly, in some cases, this can also lead to viewing illegal porn.
  4. A lack of engagement or satisfaction with sexual intimacy. Some porn addicts lose interest in sexual intimacy with their partner. Porn addiction is a very self-centered sexual behaviour, whereas intimacy involving a couple requires consideration of our partner’s needs.
  5. A need to hide porn viewing from partners. For those struggling with porn addiction, they’ll often feel the need to hide their behaviour from their partners, often feeling a deep sense of guilt and shame.
  6. Increased risk-taking. Porn addicts often find themselves taking greater risks, including accessing porn while at work and/or while using work devices. It may also include accessing porn at inappropriate times and places such as family social activities or on devices at home that children may use.
  7. Financial spending on pornographic material. While there are large amounts of ‘free’ porn available on the Internet, many porn addicts seek specific types of porn that can only be accessed by subscribing to a service or by paying a one-off fee. If necessary, some porn addicts will even forego some of life’s necessities, such as paying bills, buying food and protecting hard-earned savings.

 

What does porn addiction treatment look like?

If you identify with any of the above porn addiction signs or recognise these behaviours in a loved one, there’s good news. Porn addiction diagnosis treatment is available and can be highly effective.

John Larkin (Certified Sex Addiction Therapist), resident Porn and Sex Addiction specialist at The Banyans, has found that porn addiction is not unlike many other addictions. He states that research and clinical practice have shown that some individuals who experience difficult emotional states such as depression, anxiety, anger, frustration, loneliness, sadness or boredom use porn to medicate, escape, and self-soothe. A common underlying driver of porn addiction is often childhood developmental ‘insults’, which include emotional neglect, lack of attachment with primary caregivers, various forms of abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, intellectual), judgment, family rigidity and excessive criticism.

Porn addiction therapy encompasses dealing with unresolved trauma, increasing self-awareness and self-management of emotional states and dysfunctional thoughts/beliefs, clarifying personal values, establishing healthy sexual boundaries and defining sexual sobriety.

 

Man engaging with porn addiction therapy

 

The Banyans’ Residential Program offers a holistic, individualised approach to the treatment of porn addiction, including a focus on the principle causes of the addiction. As our residential program takes place outside of the everyday home environment, a number of the potential ‘triggers’ are removed – which helps to create space for recovery to commence.

 

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When a porn addict is in a committed relationship, it is important that the addict’s partner receives support and strategies to manage their thoughts and emotions and learn how best to ‘navigate’ a way forward.

“The success rate for recovery for individuals and couples struggling with porn addiction is very high for those who are committed to the healing and recovery process”, says John Larkin. “As part of the healing journey for a committed couple, a ‘revisioning’ of the relationship is required. This includes the development of a ‘relationship constitution’ which articulates the couple’s shared vision and aspirations for the relationship going forward”.

As the team at The Banyans includes a wide range of practitioners across key areas of expertise, our holistic approach empowers porn addicts to receive treatment and healing for underlying conditions or experiences that have contributed to their porn addiction.

 

Seeking support: find porn addiction treatment and freedom

 

Family rebuilt after porn addiction treatment

 

By choosing to seek support in recovering from your porn addiction, you’re taking the first step towards a brighter, healthier future for yourself and your loved ones. The Banyans Residential Program creates time and space outside of everyday life and pressures, bringing a holistic approach to dealing with the underlying ‘drivers’ of addictive behaviours and dependencies. Find the support you need to treat porn addiction problems by choosing healing and freedom with the help of the industry-leading team at The Banyans.

This article was reviewed by John Larkin (Certified Sex Addiction Therapist), resident porn and sex addiction specialist at The Banyans Healthcare Group.