Some people see pornography as a potential addiction. This can happen when people spend increasing amounts of time using pornography and begin using increasingly more extreme pornographic material. This increase in use occurs even though the use has negative consequences. Some people find that their entire sex life revolves around pornography and they are unable to be sexually involved with a real person without the use of pornography.
How would you know if your pornography use is harmful to you? The following are some signs that pornography use is problematic:
- The use feels like it is out of your control. You make unsuccessful efforts to quit or limit your use.
- Your use of pornography is incompatible with your beliefs and values. You feel guilt, shame, depression, and/or remorse after using pornography.
- You keep your pornography use or the extent of your pornography use secret from others and worry that others will find out about your use.
- The use of pornography consumes your thinking. When you are not using pornography, you think about if frequently and anticipate when you will use it again. You spend increasing amounts of time using pornography.
- Your use of pornography has negative consequences on your life. For example, you may neglect responsibilities or become less effective in your job or in academics. You might spend too much money on pornography or put yourself in dangerous situations you would not normally be in due to pornography or sexual addiction. You may have been caught using pornography in inappropriate places such as work or a campus computer lab.
- Your use of pornography causes problems in your intimate relationships, such as creating emotional distance between people you love or causing those in a relationship with you to feel neglected. You may lose relationships due to pornography.
Any of these signs can indicate that pornography is becoming a problem. If you are concerned that you or someone you care about may have a problem with pornography, check out the self-help resources at the end of this article or talk to a mental health professional.
Ideas for Changing Pornography Usage:
- Change routines and environments that lead to pornography usage. Avoid high-risk situations.
- Make a list of the positive and negative consequences of using versus not using pornography.
- Spend less time alone. Review the status of your friendships and relationships. Are they meaningful and satisfying? If not, what would make them more fulfilling?
- Learn new ways of coping with strong feelings like anxiety, loneliness, anger, depression, and boredom.
- Identify activities that can help you relax, enjoy yourself, and feel refreshed.
The following self-help web resources have more information on sexual addictions, pornography use, treatment for sexual addictions, and help for those affected by another person’s use of pornography:
The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (SASH) www.sash.net
Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) www.saa-recovery.org
Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) www.sa.org
Sexual Compulsives Anonymous (SCA)
www.sca-recovery.org (no current Texas groups)
Sexual Recovery Anonymous (SRA)
www.sexualrecovery.org (no current Texas groups)
S-Anon International Family Groups www.sanon.org
Codependents of Sexual Adictions