Just like alcohol or drugs, pornography can be addicting. Similarly to alcohol and drugs, pornography has the ability to alter brain chemistry and change thoughts about intimacy and sexuality. “Some experts say that the same brain activity shown in drug or alcohol addiction — when circuits in your brain associated with reward, motivation, and memory get turned on — as in those who use pornography.” (WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD)
How can you know if you’re addicted? Can you use pornography and not be addicted? There are signs of pornography addiction you can look for that will help you know if it’s time to get help.
Three Aspects of Pornography Addiction
Three aspects which impact the compulsive use of pornography include: anonymity, availability and easy access. Unlike alcohol and drugs that require effort to acquire, pornography is available in the palm of your hand. Most teenagers and many pre-teens now have regular access to web-enabled phones. That means that without some guidance, they can become addicted before they even understand what they are looking at.
Pornography is easily accessed from anywhere – home, school, work – anywhere there is a computer or cell phone and an internet connection. Even when we’re not looking for it, pornography can pop up on our screens. We have to actively disengage to avoid accessing pornographic images.
Round the clock access to pornography allows for complete anonymity. We can visit sites without ever interacting with another human being. Not like drugs or alcohol that are physical products to be purchased.
Addiction Can Go Undetected – at First
“If you’re addicted to pornography the adverse consequences might begin slowly and be undetected. You may be unaware that changes are occurring until you are seriously hooked. Over time you find that porn consumes large amounts of your time and becomes central to your daily routine,” explains Dr. Floyd Godfrey, PhD, Certified Sex Addiction Therapist Supervisor (CSAT-S) and a Certified Clinical Sexologist (CCS).
Common signs of pornography addiction include:
- A feeling that it’s out of control; you cannot stop even when you promise yourself every single time that you won’t do it anymore.
- Continuing to use porn despite the fact that it’s in conflict with personal values or convictions.
- Concealing porn use and preventing others from discovering what you are doing.
- When not viewing pornography, you spend time preparing for the next chance.
- Risking getting “caught” in places it would be improper, like school or work.
- Pornography begins taking away from important activities such as school, employment, friends or family time.
- Using pornography has started to change your connection with friends or family, and seems to be causing a sense of disconnection or moodiness.
Looking for the signs of pornography addiction is a good place to start, but resolving pornography addiction is a difficult journey with no fast or magical fix. While it takes time and expert guidance, you can heal from pornography addiction and live a sober life of peace.
For pornography addictions, we recommend working with a trusted CSAT (Certified Sex Addiction Therapist). CSATs are specifically trained to work within the unique realm of sexual and pornography addiction. At Family Strategies Counseling Center, we have the largest group of CSAT therapists in the East Valley waiting to help you. Click on any therapist’s name below to go to their bio and find a good fit for you.