Addiction

Internet Porn Addiction: Why Is Free Porn So Irresistible?

Internet porn addiction explained.

Posted Nov 11, 2011

Excessive use of online porn can be thought of as a manifestation of both Internet addiction and sex addiction. In fact, porn addiction is one of the most commonly reported sex addiction problems, especially among younger individuals and among what Carnes calls "Phase 1" sex addicts, the lighter version that doesn't involve others.

Porn addiction develops much like a drug addiction. After an initially rewarding experience with pornography, individuals may experience uncontrollable urges to obtain sexual satisfaction through that form of entertainment (1). The connection between internet porn and sexual gratification is positively reinforced, and the urges become more frequent and more powerful. These connections can become so strong that simply sitting down at a computer elicits a sexual response.

As with drug addiction the problems arise when urges to view porn conflict with an individual's daily responsibilities. Instead of leaving for work on time, the addict may decide to stay at home and watch porn: Some porn addicts report staying at home for porn sessions that can last as long as 8-10 hours. The shame and guilt that often accompany these compulsive sexual experiences are also thought to greatly affect the experience of sex addicts and to reinforce the positive experience they receive from their shameful act. Many porn addicts report that they end up in a distressing situation in which their shameful sexual release is the only positive experience they get to have.

It should be noted that the majority of people who use online pornography do so recreationally, with little ill effect (2). As is the case with drug addiction, it is only a subgroup of people that becomes "addicted" and suffers serious consequences (e.g. lost jobs, disturbed marriages).

Whether we are talking about pornography, gambling, or shopping, our golden rule for diagnosing behavioral addictions has been: no impairment, no addiction.

The refuge of the internet

Internet porn addiction can also bring about a different psychological toll than the shame we discussed earlier. As tolerance develops, individuals may also begin to need more deviant material to achieve the same high. This is again similar to the increased quantity and variety need experienced by many drug users and it's where rape fantasies, fetishes, and child pornography often come into play. Exposure to such material can grossly distort beliefs about human sexuality and ruin interpersonal relationships. Patients who progress in this fashion often report feeling unsatisfied with their sexual experiences and unsatisfied with their partners (2).

I noted that shame is a major component of the addiction cycle. This is especially true for sexual addiction. Social norms tell the addict that there is shame in buying an adult magazine and that there is shame in soliciting a prostitute. Internet porn substantially reduces the risk of getting caught, and therefore of being shamed. Many individuals who experience porn addiction are able to hide their activity from their partners and remain anonymous on the web. Online porn is easily accessible, it's available all the time, and getting free porn is easy. When you add complete anonymity into the mix, you get a recipe for a potentially serious addiction (2).

Some Advice

Relapse is common during recovery as patients often experience withdrawal symptoms when their normal consumption of pornography is reduced. In this case, like in many others, relapse is to be thought of as a misstep, and not a failure. In addition to these standard methods, patients can often benefit from the use of Internet filters and "accountability" software that sends a report of their online activity to a partner or therapist. Again, it's important to recognize that although porn addiction is serious, there are solutions out there and help resources in general are growing with the recent jump in awareness brought about by high-profile cases.

© 2011 Adi Jaffe, All Rights Reserved.

References

1. Griffiths, M. (2001) Sex on the internet: Observations and implications for internet sex addiction, The Journal of Sex Research, 38(4)

2. Cline, V.B. (2002) Pornography's Effects on Adults and Children