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In Drugs & Addictions, Parents, Parents Coaching

What is Porn: Addiction to Porn, Its Symptoms, Treatments and Myths

What is Porn

It is common for people to misunderstand the difference between a habit and an addiction. A habit is an act that is done by choice; the person can choose and will eventually stop the behavior. Whereas an addiction has a psychological/physical component that prevents the person from having control over the act, which prevents them from stopping the behavior without help. An addiction leads to tolerance, which leads to the person needing more of whatever they are addicted to. An overwhelming interest in a particular subject can become an obsession and begin controlling you, your life and your environment. People commonly hide their addictions and may often suffer with feelings of worthlessness and shame. Out of all of the different types of progressive addictions, the one that is the most secretive as well as the most difficult to reveal, is porn addiction. Learn What is Porn and How To Prevent Porn Addiction.

What is Porn?

Porn is the abbreviation for pornography, which is sexual material that is explicitly portrayed for the primary purpose of sexual arousal. Sexually explicit material can be presented in a variety of ways, including magazines, photographs, films, writings, sculptures, animation, sound recordings and video games. The term pornography is a depiction of the act, instead of the actual act. For example, porn does not include live exhibitions, such as the performances at a “strip club”.
So, what is pornography? There are four categories of porn that can be determined illegal, including indecency, obscenity, material that is harmful to minors and child pornography.

  • Indecent material is pictures or messages on broadcast television, the telephone or radio that are offensive or provide depictions of sexual activities or excretory organs. Indecent material is also known as sexual nudity and/or dirty words that are offensive to the general public.
  • Obscenity is graphic material with a focus on sex and/or sexual violence, including deviant activities such as torture, incest and/or group sex.
  • Material that is harmful to minors is any material that represents sex or nudity and is offensive and unsuitable for minors.
  • Child pornography is material in which children under the age of 18 are visually depicted as engaging in either simulated or actual sexual activity. This includes the exhibition of a child’s genitals.

Staggering Statistics of Pornography

In order to fully understand the effects a pornography addiction has on a person as well as their life, it is important to review some porn statistics. Commercialized pornography is close to a 100 billion dollar industry and some of the statistics relating to pornography can be extremely unexpected as well as extremely alarming. For example, it is a fact that 70 percent of sexual predators who have been jailed for sexual crimes blame pornography for their sexual crime. Not only did they become desensitized to the material they viewed, but they also got the majority of their ideas for torturing and brutalizing others by watching porn.

  • From 2001 to 2007, internet porn increased from a 1 billion dollar a year to $3 billion and from 2007 to 2011, it increased to industry valued at nearly $100 billion.
  • It is estimated that about 90% of internet porn users will only only access online material that is free.
  • Porn is a dangerous business. On the average only 17% of porn performers use condoms in a heterosexual porn film and 7% of the porn performers have been diagnosed with HIV. About 90% of porn stars who have been interviewed admit to drug use as a way to deal with the treatment they receive in the industry.
  • Out of 50 top selling adult films; 49% of the scenes contained verbal aggression and 88% of the scenes contained acts of physical aggression.
  • In a research study, it was found that 1 out of every 8 searches on the internet are for erotic content
  • Someone who has committed adultery is 218% more likely to look at porn.
  • 1 in 5 searches for pornography are done on a mobile device
  • A survey in 2010 discovered that over 1/4 of 16 to 17 year old teenagers had been exposed to online nudity at a time when they did not want to see it. 20% of the 16 year olds and 30% of the 17 year olds have received a sexually explicit text message.
  • 7 out of 10 teenagers hide their online behavior from their parents and 35% of boys say they cannot count the number of times they have viewed pornographic videos.
  • More than half of boys see their first pornographic image before the age of 13. 83% of boys and 57% of girls interviewed in a college study said they had seen images of group sex online.
  • Almost 68% of adult men and about 18% of adult women use porn at least once each week.
  • According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 56% of the divorce cases involve one of the parties having an obsession with pornographic websites.

What are the Stages of a Porn Addiction?

First and foremost, it is important to note that not everyone who sees porn becomes addicted. Many people will come away with toxic ideas about marriage, sex, children and women. However, others will experience an emotional opening that allows the addiction to begin. An addiction to porn is divided into separation stages; early exposure,addiction, escalation, desensitization and acting out.

  • Early exposure means the porn addict began viewing porn when they were very young. Many people who are addicted to porn did begin seeing it at an early age, often as young as the age of 10.
  • Porn addiction means you keep coming back to the porn, because it has become a regular part of your life.
  • Escalation means you are starting to looking for more graphic porn. What is porn that contains more graphic matter? It is the porn material that used to be difficult for you to view, but is now thought of as mild or typical porn.
  • What is porn desensitization? It means you have began to be numb to the images you are seeing,even explicit porn does not excite you any more. You are desperately seeking the original thrill, but are unable to find it.
  • Acting out sexually is the point where an addict begins to act out the images they have seen. You attempt to simulate the acts you viewed with real people and in destructive ways.

Signs and Symptoms of a Porn Addiction

Being addicted to porn is typically defined as a behavioral addiction. It is characterized by the compulsion to view pornographic material or content. The growth of the internet has provided unlimited access to pornography and at all levels of explicitness. Unlike magazines or video tapes, the internet allows an addict to store and view porn without leaving any evidence, which also makes it more difficult for others to detect the addiction.

The signs and symptoms of a porn addict are similar to the signs and symptoms of an addiction to drugs or alcohol. For example, someone with a porn addiction may begin to replace or neglect their relationships because of the obsession with porn, just as an alcoholic will replace these things with alcohol. The signs and symptoms of a porn addiction vary depending on the person and their availability to pornographic material. Some signs of an addiction to porn may include:

  • An inability to stop using porn and/or the behaviors associated with porn, despite numerous attempts to quit
  • Becoming angry, hostile or irritable if asked to stop
  • Hiding or attempting to keep the porn use a secret from friends and loved ones
  • Feeling powerless at resisting the urge to view porn
  • Continuing to use porn despite the obvious consequences, such as job or relationship loss
  • Neglecting family, work and/or social obligations to view porn
  • Feeling as though they are living a double life because of the porn use
  • Losing track of large chunks of time due to being absorbed in viewing porn
  • Spending a significant amount of time thinking about porn or participating in activities that will allow access to porn
  • Becoming stressed, anxious and/or irritable if unable to access to porn
  • Frequently spend more time and/or money on porn that was initially intended
  • Passing up opportunities in order to have more time to view or use porn
  • The more often porn is viewing, the more the need is to take risks in order to gain the same thrill or satisfaction that was originally achieved
  • Trying unsuccessfully to stop or limit the time viewing porn

Effects of Pornography

The effects of pornography has a tremendous amount of negative outcomes. Some research has shown that viewing/using pornography has an influence on domestic violence, sexual dysfunction, rape, difficulties with a sexual relationship and child sexual abuse. Those who are addicted to pornographic material become tolerant to the images, which may ultimately have an impact on their view of what is right or wrong in sexual behaviors. According to several studies prolonged exposure to pornography will lead to a belief that promiscuity is natural, the belief that marriage is sexually confining, a lack of attraction to family as well as child-raising and a cynicism about the need for affection with sexual partners.

Porn addiction is private behavior and is carried out secretly and in isolation. There are no people involved, simply the porn addict and the computer, photos and/or videos. If a porn addiction is left untreated it can result in a range of negative effects, including broken relationships, feelings of shame and guilt, financial troubles, legal problems, divorce, problems with work or school and may ultimately lead to a high risk of engaging in dangerous or unhealthy sexual activities.

How to Stop Porn Addiction

One of the most important aspects of learning how to overcome porn addiction is to first admit there is a problem. Learning how to break a porn addiction requires honesty and the ability to reach out for help. It is crucial that the porn addict arrive at their own conclusion to make a change.

There are private and publicly funded treatment facilities available that offer porn addiction recovery and rehabilitation programs. In the majority of situations, inpatient treatment is recommended in the early stages. Inpatient treatment ensures that you will receive 24 hour support and counseling as well as monitoring for the use of porn.

There are a range of therapy options to choose from to help stop using porn. Individual and group therapy for a porn addict is often combined with family therapy as well to help strengthen the recovery process for both the addict and their loved ones.

Individual therapy is designed to evaluate your emotional and mental health. This type of therapy is extremely important in the early stages of porn addiction recovery, because it is often difficult to talk about the behaviors you have engaged in to satisfy the compulsion. Part of individual behavioral therapy includes the education required to teach you how to make healthier choices in life and how to replace your previous negative behaviors with positive ones. Most porn addiction treatment programs include a 12-step recovery program as a part of the behavioral therapy. A 12-step recovery program is typically done in a group setting, because it is more effective than attempting to do it alone.

Group therapy is crucial to the recovery of a porn addiction. Being involved in group therapy is a way to know that you are not alone in your thoughts, actions and behaviors. Group therapy sessions are supervised by a therapist and include other people who are also battling porn addiction.

Porn Addiction Recovery Success Tips

Due to porn addiction being an addiction that is based on habit, secrecy and the thrill, it is often difficult to recover without outside help. To successfully recover from an addiction to porn there are several things you can do:

  • Have someone else install a block on all electronic devices to prevent use
  • Talk about your addiction in detail with a friend or therapist that you trust.
  • Develop a relapse prevention plan to help you prepare for the times when you feel tempted to use porn.
  • Install tracking devices on the phone, television and computer in order for someone you trust to monitor your online behavior.
  • Be aware of the stages and the signs of porn addiction, including general signs as well as signs that are unique to you.
  • Make good use of all available porn addiction resources including 12-step group meetings, sex addiction therapy and online support groups.

Myths of a Porn Addiction

It is extremely important to understand that one of the biggest myths surround an addiction to porn is that there is a cure. Treatment is not intended or designed to provide a cure for an addiction to porn, but instead to teach the porn addict the various methods and behaviors that are necessary to replace their unhealthy behaviors. An addiction to porn is similar to an addiction to drugs or alcohol in that in order to recover from the addiction, the addict must abstain from the use of porn. It is common for a drug addict or alcoholic to relapse by simply seeing someone else take a drink or use a drug. The same concept applies to pornography; it only takes one image to relapse into a full addiction again.

One of the most overwhelming myths is that a porn addiction is caused simply by the need for sexual gratification. This is simply not true. Sex addiction is not about the euphoria achieved from masturbation or orgasm resulting from the viewing the porn. It does however contribute to the role in reinforcing the behavior. A porn addiction is more about the taboo and the novelty of the pornography itself. A porn addict typically gets a certain type of thrill or a sense of excitement from viewing the pornographic content and feeling as thought the “actors” are putting on the show specifically for the viewer.

Negative Triggers

A trigger is what urges you to seek out the behavior. Sometimes it is simply a habit that occurs at a certain time of the day, but in most situations the behavior is caused by a negative trigger. For example, if you are feeling lonely, stressed, angry, anxious or other type of emotions, if the computer is on and your recent history is a porn site, your emotions will fuel the need to view the porn. In other words the previous ability to overcome these emotions by watching porn, encourages your mind to believe that viewing porn is the only way to recover from your emotions. You have developed a link between the porn and a way to deal with the emotions.

Seeking help and admitting that you have and are battling an addiction to porn is embarrassing and often humiliating, but to overcome the addiction, these feelings must be ignored. Taking the first step to recovery is the first step to regaining control of your life. Regardless of what someone is addicted to, the addiction itself begins to control all aspects of your life. So choosing to admit to the porn addiction and recognizing the need for help is a step towards the path of living a life with positive behaviors.

Understanding what is pornography and the definition of porn addiction is essential for you to fight porn addiction before it escalates. If you have a more concrete porn addiction definition please feel free to share your own porn addiction definition with us below. Let us define what is porn first so that we can educate our teens on what is porn addiction and why they should’t be watching porn. 

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