Porn Addiction

An addiction to pornography is a common form of sexual addiction. Simply put, porn addiction is a problematic preoccupation with sexualized imagery that lasts six months or longer and causes significant problems in the user’s life. As is the case with sexual addiction, pornography addiction is not officially listed as a disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), but other professional organizations, notably the American Society of Addiction Medicine, are more accepting of behavioral addictions, including addiction to pornography. Generally speaking, three main criteria are taken into account when diagnosing porn addiction:

  1. Preoccupation to the point of obsession with sexual imagery. Porn addicts typically spend at least 11 hours per week searching for and looking at pornography. Sometimes they dedicate double or even triple that amount of time.
  2. Loss of control over the use of pornography. Porn addicts often try to quit or limit their use of porn, but without success. They may stop for a day or two, often discarding their entire collection and stopping online subscriptions, only to quickly return to it.
  3. Negative consequences directly related to the compulsive use of pornography. Porn addicts eventually experience many of the same adverse consequences that alcoholics, drug addicts, compulsive spenders, compulsive gamblers and other addicts deal with.

Pornography addiction is often coupled with compulsive masturbation, another common form of sexual addiction. Many porn addicts and compulsive masturbators also engage in other forms of sexually addictive behavior, like virtual sex games, Webcam mutual masturbation sessions, serial affairs (online or in-person), casual and/or anonymous sex (online or in-person), strip clubs and prostitution. That said, a significant percentage of porn addicts are hooked primarily or even completely on the rush they get from looking at and fantasizing about erotic imagery.

If you’re concerned that you or someone you love may have a problem with pornography, it may be time to talk to a certified sex addiction treatment specialist who can evaluate symptoms and make a diagnosis, and/or to check out 12-step sexual addiction recovery groups. Whether you’ve just noticed a problem or you’ve seen it get worse over a long period of time, it’s important to know that there are a variety of treatment options and resources that can help.

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