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  • Writer's pictureJeremy Edge, LPC

Porn Addiction Signs: A Comparison to Other Behavior Addictions



Porn addiction is an interesting term. There is no formal diagnosis for porn addiction. However, there are signs pointing to porn use being an addiction/disorder. Porn use is a behavior and behaviors can be addictive. Gambling and playing video games have the potential to become an addiction or disorder as described in the DSM-5 and ICD-11. Using Gaming Disorder as the model, here are signs of porn addiction.

 


Impaired control

 

The first sign of addiction is the inability to control the frequency, intensity, and/or duration of the activity. This means if someone is unable to stop how long they are looking at porn, it’s a sign. If someone is unable to control when they look at porn, it’s a sign. If someone is unable to prevent themselves from using porn when they get the urge or if they are unable to reduce the amount of porn they view, it’s a sign. If they try to cut back several times but keep coming back to porn, it’s a sign.

 

A clear sign of porn addiction is if they are unable to stop using porn.

 

 

Porn use is taking the priority over other life interests and daily activities

 

The next sign of porn addiction is if someone is using porn rather than engaging in life. For example, if a college student is skipping classes, missing time with friends, and not engaging in campus life because they are looking at porn, it’s a sign of addiction. The potential for addiction is when the college student prioritizes porn use over academics, friendships, and overall health.

 

Another example is if a married adult is neglecting their work responsibilities, reducing time spent on hobbies, and not having sex with their spouse because of their porn use. The key here is porn use has the be the reason for these other pieces of their life failing. It’s natural for couples to go through dry spells sexually. But if one or both are watching porn separately to get their sexual needs met, then that’s a problem.

 


Continued porn use despite negative consequences

 

If someone sees the problems their porn use is having and they continue to use porn, that’s a clear sign of addiction. This could be in any area of the person’s life. If there are constant fights or arguments in the marriage because of porn, that’s a sign. Or if someone loses their job because of viewing porn at work but then they use porn later that day, that’s a sign. If they see their physical activity decline, depression increase, and sleep decrease all because of porn use, it’s a sign of porn addiction.

 


Porn use happens continuously or episodic and recurrent over a year

 

Gambling Disorder and Gaming Disorder diagnoses say a year is how long someone has to engage in the certain problematic behavior in order for it to qualify as a disorder or addiction. This similar thinking can be applied to porn addiction.

 

Someone has to be using porn and experiencing these negative outcomes described for a year to qualify for a porn addiction.

 

If during spring break a student cannot control how much porn they consume, would rather use porn than do other activities, and continues to use porn in spite of seeing problems with friendships but are able to not experience any of those symptoms when they go back to school, then it’s not considered a sign for addiction. Yes, how the student is using porn during their spring break is problematic but it’s not considered an addiction because it’s not an extended period or full year.

 


Behaviors are not due to of another disorder, substance, or medical condition

 

It’s important to take a wholistic approach when looking at addiction. Are there any other things contributing to this person’s behaviors and actions?

 

Let’s take for example a high school student who just moved across the country and is fighting often with their parents, failing classes, and neglecting their sports team commitment. The student is looking at porn but the underlying issue is depression and an Adjustment Disorder from the move. After they acclimate to their new environment their relationships with parents improve, grades increase, and enjoy playing sports again.

 

Porn addiction can be the culprit if nothing else explains the person’s behavior.

 


Porn use behavior creates significant distress in every area of person’s life

 

Another porn addiction sign is when porn is negatively impacting personal, family, social, educational, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. If you were to dissect every important area of a person’s life and there are real problems because of porn use, that’s a clear sign of porn addiction.

 

We are complex human beings. Usually there are multiple factors impacting our behaviors, moods, and actions. But if porn use continues to surface as the central issue, then it’s a sign to do something about it.


 

 

 

Remember, porn addiction is not a formal diagnosis! This article is meant to shed light on what a real problem with porn looks like.

 

 

 

If you are struggling with problematic porn use of any kind, working with a professional counselor is one of the best ways to move towards a healthier life. Reach out to us today if you would like to set up an appointment.

 

For more information about 4 steps to stop porn use, check out this article.




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