Porn Addiction: How Dangerous is It? (3/3)

Porn Addiction: How Dangerous is It? (3/3)

About the line drawn between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship with porn usage, withdrawal symptoms and treatment approaches - treatment options for porn addiction and when porn usage is considered harmful.

Where to draw the line between a healthy relationship with porn and addiction?

It generally boils down to how pornography impacts the rest of your life for most individuals.

In a healthy relationship, you may watch porn on a daily basis and be attracted to any representation of sexual behavior. It shouldn't, however, have a detrimental influence on other aspects of your life and you should be able to quit if necessary.

Pornography may creep into other aspects of your life if you have an addiction and have a detrimental impact on them. For example, if your excessive intake of sexual materials is causing problems with your spouse, you're ignoring other duties or you're spending money you can't afford on porn, these might all be signs of an unhealthy relationship.

When should you seek professional help?

  • Despite whatever issues it has created or is causing in your relationships, career or home life and despite any attempts to manage it, you continue to watch excessive quantities of porn on repeat.
  • While watching porn, you constantly lose track of time.
  • Your mind is always consumed by ideas of porn even when you aren't watching it or don't want to think about it.
  •  You're embarrassed, guilty or sad about your pornographic consumption or you're concerned about attempting to disguise it.
  •  You have the impression that it is interfering with or preventing you from enjoying or satisfying your own sexual experiences.

More significantly, even once you realize how pornography affects you negatively, you can't seem to stop watching it.

What if it’s left untreated?

Compulsions or addictions, if left untreated, may become a devastating force in your life. Relationships, especially emotional and sexual, might be harmed.

Porn addiction can result in:

  • Deterioration of relationship quality.
  • Decreased sexual satisfaction.
  • A lack of self-confidence.

It can also lead to professional or financial difficulties if you ignore responsibilities or fail to meet deadlines or if you watch porn at work where you may face disciplinary actions.

What should you expect while trying to quit?

If you have a porn addiction and try to stop consuming pornography or other comparable stimuli, you will almost certainly experience significant withdrawal symptoms. Your brain is telling you that something pleasurable is lacking if you don't give it dopamine. This erroneous attempt by your brain to produce a pleasant sensation generally results in the following symptoms:

  • Sudden irritability, mood swings or depression: Because many extreme pornographers use sexual material to cope with other unpleasant emotions in their lives, early sobriety might bring these suppressed sentiments to the surface. After going without porn, it's not uncommon for an addict to get irritated, sad or even worried.
  • Insomnia: Many pornography users tend to use porn as a way to beat sleeplessness. Without this, they may have difficulties falling asleep at night and or feel the need to masturbate.
  • Intense feelings of loneliness: Pornography can sometimes hide underlying issues that addicts may be dealing with, particularly those involving emotional or physical closeness.
  • Loss of libido: Addicts may find it difficult to bond to a spouse or enjoy physical intimacy after spending so much time in a fantasy world. Having a gentle, romantic encounter may not seem enough or appealing after watching bizarre and aggressive sexual intercourse episodes.

These symptoms vary day-to-day and from person-to-person. It's important to note that these withdrawal symptoms don't always occur when someone quits watching porn. Even if you don't experience withdrawal symptoms like the ones described above, it doesn't rule out the possibility of an addiction or the need for treatment. It simply implies that you will be able to quit porn quicker than others who are going through the withdrawal process.

If you are experiencing these withdrawal symptoms, it is important to understand that these won’t last forever. The relief you will get after going through this stage will make you realize that it will all be worth it.

How is porn addiction treated?

The good news is that if you're having trouble with this or want to modify your relationship with porn, it's quite feasible. However, quitting on your own might feel hard since it's an addiction - especially when a long-term addiction can alter brain chemistry. 

On the other hand, an addiction treatment center like Pacific Solstice, will take a personalized approach and provide aftercare services to help you heal and recover from your pornography addiction. 

Mindfulness and acceptance-based psychotherapy have been proven to be more beneficial than pharmaceutical approaches in reducing porn use in trials. However, your doctor may prescribe medications if you have a co-existing mental health problem such as depression or OCD.

  • Pharmacological approach: Previous research has shown that naltrexone might be used to treat behavioral addictions and hypersexual disorder by inhibiting the pleasure associated with the behavior and so lowering cravings and impulses.
  • Psychotherapeutic approach: Psychotherapy can be an important tool in comprehending and changing one’s behavior. Many clinicians have considered Cognitive Behavioral Therapy useful in hypersexual behaviors. Family therapy, couples therapy and psychosocial treatments have been proven vital in addressing themes of shame, guilt and restoring trust among the users’ closest relationships.

Recovery takes a lot more than just quitting a compulsive habit or an addiction. It’s all about figuring out what is causing the issue in the first place. Addiction recovery is a lengthy and tough process that needs a great deal of willpower and assistance. 

Professional assistance in the form of long-term treatment and/or an intensive outpatient program that provides support for both addicts and their families greatly increases the chances of success in recovering from addiction.

Do not hesitate to reach out to us if you or a loved one is suffering from porn addiction. We are here to help you.

References:

1.    de Alarcón, R., de la Iglesia, J. I., Casado, N. M., & Montejo, A. L. (2019). Online Porn Addiction: What We Know and What We Don't-A Systematic Review. Journal of clinical medicine, 8(1), 91. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm8010091

2.    Raymond, N. C., Grant, J. E., & Coleman, E. (2010). Augmentation with naltrexone to treat compulsive sexual behavior: a case series. Annals of clinical psychiatry : official journal of the American Academy of Clinical Psychiatrists, 22(1), 56–62.

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