How can looking at pornography cause an addiction?

Pornography use, just like alcohol, addictive drugs and gambling, can become an actual addiction. Addiction: the continued use of a mood altering substance or behavior despite adverse consequences. Classic hallmarks of addiction include impaired control

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  • Pornography use, just like alcohol, addictive drugs and gambling, can become an actual addiction.

  • Addiction

  • the continued use of a mood altering substance or behavior despite adverse consequences. Classic hallmarks of addiction include impaired control over use of the addictive substance or behavior, preoccupation with use of the substance or behavior, continued use despite consequences, and denial. Habits and patterns associated with addiction are typically characterized by immediate gratification (short-term reward), coupled with delayed deleterious effects (long-term costs).

  • Tolerance

  • the process by which the body continually adapts to the substance or behavior and requires increasingly larger amounts to achieve the original effects. With addiction, if the substance or behavior decreases or stops, withdrawal occurs. Symptoms of withdrawal generally include but are not limited to anxiety, irritability, and intense cravings for the substance.

  • Six criteria for an addictive experience:

    • It is powerful and absorbs a person’s feelings and thoughts

    • It is available for repeat use

    • It provides temporary, positive feelings, such the absence of worry or pain, reduced anxiety, freedom from boredom or loneliness, or enhanced feelings of well being

    • The temporary, positive feelings experienced through the addictive experience supply an easy fix and become a substitute for non-addictive means of experiencing those positive feelings.

    • With repeat usage, the addictive experience becomes less and less efficient at providing temporary positive feelings, so use must escalate.

    • The use of the substance or behavior continues, even though it progressively limits and harms their lives.

  • Pornography use, just like alcohol, addictive drugs and gambling, fits perfectly into the above definitions for addiction, tolerance and the five criteria for an addictive experience. Nevertheless, there has been some debate about whether pornography use can actually become an addiction. Currently, there are thousands of 12-Step recovery groups in the United States which are focused exclusively on recovery from pornography addiction, which is classified as a sexual addiction. The people attending these groups strongly feel that their use of pornography resulted in an addiction which caused their lives to become out of control. They freely admit that they became powerless over their use of pornography and that they lost their ability to stop their use, using only their free will.

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  • Learn more about the physical nature of pornography addiction by reading two important articles by Donald L. Hilton, Jr., MD:

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Ann H. Tolley is the director of the S.A. Lifeline Foundation and a licensed attorney.

Website: http://salifeline.org

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