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How Do I Find Help For Porn Addiction?

An estimated 70% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 30 watch pornography regularly, and although it is not an issue for some, others find their compulsion to watch porn leaving a major negative impact on their life. It is in these cases where it may be necessary to find help for porn addiction.

What Is Porn Addiction?

A vast array of pornography can be found by a few clicks on a computer or smartphone. Its free and there’s no need to download it; anyone with internet access can view a seemingly endless collection of pornographic videos and photos. And the majority of people do. One of the major online websites with explicit content, Pornhub, released statistics stating that 70% of Americans aged 18 to 30 watched online pornography at least once a month. The majority of users are under the age of 34, and 70% of them are men. While some may view porn occasionally and incorporate it into a part of healthy sexuality, others find themselves needing help for a porn addiction.

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Currently, the only behavioral addiction under the “Non-substance-related disorders” category in the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is gambling disorder. Pornography addiction is not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), but there has been a large amount of research suggesting that someone with a porn addiction displays many of the same compulsive tendencies as someone with a substance use disorder. Without the recognition of the APA, there can be no definitive diagnostic criteria guide for professionals to treat someone with a porn addiction, making the task of finding help for porn addiction more tedious than for recognized disorders.

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A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information stated that the continued use of porn could result, “in financial, legal, occupational, and relationship trouble or personal problems, with diverse negative consequences.” Users may feel a loss of control and a persistent urge to use despite negative consequences. This can be defined as “online sexual compulsivity” or Problematic Online Pornography Use (POPU). There is still debate over whether POPU should be considered a compulsion or an addiction, as the lines between these definitions can be blurry. A compulsion is defined by Merriam-Webster as, “an irresistible persistent impulse to perform an act.” The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines addiction as, “Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.”

The Signs Of Porn Addiction

Researchers have acknowledged that the underlying neural processes of addiction are similar to certain behavioral addictions. Some studies have found that when one partner in a relationship uses porn at a high frequency, it results in, “increased secrecy, less intimacy and also more depression.” Some researchers theorize that those who use porn at a high frequency are more likely to have unrealistic expectations for sexual partners and sexual experiences. This can have a negative impact on potential future relationships as well as current relationships. Some signs that it may be time to get help for a porn addiction are:

  • Being unable to become aroused and enjoy sex without porn.
  • Being unable to stop watching porn, despite negative consequences.
  • Ignoring responsibilities to view porn instead.
  • Spending a large and increasing amount of time watching porn.
  • Feeling guilty about porn usage yet continuing use.
  • Being unable to stop watching porn, despite it causing relationship problems.

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How To Find Help For A Porn Addiction

Treatment for a porn addiction is less common than treatment for substance use disorders, such as alcoholism. The main goal in porn addiction treatment is focused on reducing pornography consumption or abandoning it altogether. An acceptance-based psychotherapy approach is theorized to be more effective than other approaches, such as a pharmacological approach. Quitting any substance or behavioral addiction cold turkey is usually very difficult and leads to the increased chance of relapse.

Treatment for a porn addiction may include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or working with a mental health professional that specializes in sexual dysfunction. The American Society of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (ASSECT) offers an online locator that can help people find educators and therapists in their area so they can start working with a sex therapist on addressing why they have a compulsion to view pornography. It may be helpful to contact the Sex Addicts Anonymous hotline, or the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services helpline which can help connect people to rehabs and mental health resources in their state.

Resources
American Society of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists www.aasect.org
Sex Addicts Anonymous saa-recovery.org
U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services www.hhs.gov

Getting Help

Oftentimes, behavioral addictions and substance use disorders co-occur. If you find yourself struggling with a drug or alcohol problem, as well as with a porn addiction, inpatient rehab may be the perfect option to help you quit both addictions at the same time. Counselors in inpatient and outpatient rehab facilities can offer counseling on the root issue of why pornography is causing a disruption in your life. Contact a treatment provider today.

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