The Digital Porn Age

Imagine a highly addictive drug that is available 24 hours a day, offered for free in large quantities in the comfort of your own home, and injected just by viewing it. For anyone who understands addiction, it is easy to understand how internet pornography is a perfect recipe for compulsive use.

Individuals who have developed addiction to porn find his or herself spending hours or days searching a seemingly endless supply of images, sometimes resulting in the neglect of relationships, family, career, and one’s personal values. Why is it so difficult for someone to quit despite negative consequences?

The human brain naturally craves pleasure and novelty. When we experience a pleasurable activity there is a flood of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which helps our brains create an association that is powerful and attracts us to seek the same behaviors. This is compounded when masturbation is paired with viewing pornography. When a person experiences a great deal of stress or lacks connection with others, he or she is more prone to seek pleasurable experiences to get some relief, even when it is known that the relief is temporary and may be followed by unpleasant consequences or feelings.

Why do some people seek images that are shocking or disturbing in its content? Let’s go back to the brain which has this mechanism for regulating dopamine. When this happens, it takes more of the same activity to get the same affect. This is referred to as tolerance in the substance abuse world and it means that addicted folks increase the amount and frequency of using. On top of that, they may develop an attraction to things that they previously considered to be outside of their own moral boundaries.

What might not seem obvious is that an addiction to pornography can be very costly. Yes, there is a great deal of porn that is available at no cost, but there are hidden costs. Consider the lost revenue when someone neglects business responsibilities or is caught viewing porn on an employer owned device. Not to mention the emotional costs that are exacted from the isolation that a person can experience, or the relationship fallout that results when a partner discovers her or his mate has been viewing porn secretively. In addition, there is no fool proof way to ensure that a person is not viewing pornographic images containing underage individuals. The costs of imprisonment, loss of freedom and reputation, and most importantly the damage to minors used in production of these images, are unmeasurable.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Internet pornography addiction, don’t assume that it can be stopped immediately without support. Addiction is also characterized by numerous unsuccessful attempts to stop. Seek education, individual and/or group counseling, and sex addiction 12 step groups. The more the problem is kept in the shadows, the more powerful the addiction becomes.

About the Author:

Chris Adams LPC, is a Certified Sex Addiction Counselor and Level 2 Trained EMDR therapist. His focus is on helping men and women who struggle with compulsive sexual behaviors. He believes that addiction recovery includes addressing shame, traumatic experiences, and attachment wounds. Chris connects to clients by providing compassion and seeing them for more than just their problematic behaviors.