Sexuality and interest in sex are basic to humanity. For some people, looking at pornography, either alone or with a partner, is a healthy part of their sexuality. But with the widespread availability of pornography on the Internet, some people are viewing Internet porn more often than occasionally.
Julie Walther Scheibel, counselor at Concordia Seminary Counseling and Resource Center in St. Louis, says that although porn addiction is not a concrete diagnosis, “addictive behaviors such as overconsumption [of pornography] tend to play out in similar ways to drug and alcohol addiction.”
How Do You Know if You Have a Porn Addiction?
In general, a person is said to be addicted when he or she repeatedly and compulsively pursues something that has negative consequences. In the case of porn addiction, the act of looking at Internet porn is not inherently dangerous, but there are consequences for people who view it to excess, or in inappropriate situations.
For example, using a work computer to look at Internet porn might cause you to lose your job. But people with porn addictions will continue to access Internet porn at work even though they understand the consequences. For someone with this issue, the compulsion to look at Internet porn is stronger than the fear of job loss.
Internet Porn: How Much Is Too Much?
Walther Scheibel says you can’t measure addiction by the number of hours spent on that particular behavior. Instead, “you need to examine how it affects their life. Does it interfere with daily activities? Does it affect job performance?”
Walther Scheibel adds that rearranging your schedule, or planning your work day around your habit, also can signal that you’re not in control of your behavior.
Treating a Porn Addiction
Treatment strategies depend on the individual, but Walther Scheibel suggests a combination of individual and group therapy. A qualified therapist with experience in compulsive sexual behaviors may be needed. Ask your doctor for a referral.
- First steps to recovery. The first step towards beating porn addiction is the same with any addiction: The person with the compulsive behavior must admit that they have a problem and be ready to seek help. Friends and family can play a major role in this process. If you believe that your partner, friend, or family member has a problem, begin by talking with them about it. Encourage them to seek professional help and reassure them that you are on their side.
- Individual counseling. A therapist can help address specific issues and set goals for recovery and also recommend a support group. Many addicts suffer from other conditions, like depression, which also can be treated in individual therapy.
- Group therapy. Walther Scheibel says that group therapy can be extremely beneficial to the person suffering with an addiction. “They can meet other people who are dealing with the same issues.” Once you’ve established a good relationship with a therapist, he or she can help you identify an appropriate support group.
Every treatment plan should be individualized, Walther Scheibel says. “After you take the first step of admitting that you have a problem, the key is to get connected to a therapist who can help you with your specific situation.”
If you think you might have an addiction to pornography, don’t be afraid to ask for help. With support from your doctor, therapist, and loved ones, as well as a desire to get better, you can overcome an addiction to pornography.
(via Everyday Health)