It is an addiction rooted in shame and shrouded in secrecy.
What is the risk?
Pornography is viewed as “The New Narcotic” and could be the world’s most underestimated drug. No one wants to come out and admit they have a problem. The shame and secrecy feed the addiction. In his article “The New Narcotic” in The Journal of the Witherspoon Institute, Morgan Bennett states that research has revealed that porn is as potently addictive as heroin or cocaine. Data from The National Survey on Drug Use and Health and the Central Intelligence Agency in 2008 reported the following statistics in the USA:
- 9 million cocaine users
- 2 million heroin users
- 40 million regular users of online pornography
Most consumers do not report any problems in their lives as a result of pornography use. Among people who use pornography frequently—even every day—an extensive percentage report no problems from that use. But some people do – and it affects their lives very negatively.
Why has pornography overtaken other drugs by such a margin?
It is affordable (most content can be viewed free of charge), accessible (you just need an internet connection), and anonymous.
Porn addiction is considered a behavioural addiction characterized by an ever-growing compulsion to view pornographic content or material.
Generally, addicts don’t perceive themselves as worthwhile persons. Nor do they believe that other people will care for them or meet their needs if everything was known about them, including the addiction. Instead, they think sex is their most important need. Sex is what makes isolation bearable. It always does what it promises, but only for a moment.
“A pornography addiction is about selfishness—getting, taking—not giving, as it would be in a normal intimate relationship with a spouse. The addiction makes it impossible for any emotional or marital familiarity, closeness or love.” Susan Knight, FamilyShare
The most significant difference between porn addiction and sex addiction is that sex addiction occurs with a partner, while a porn addict needs only time with a computer or cell phone. Thus, the sex addicts’ relationship is with people, and the porn addicts’ relationship is with sex and a laptop.
Porn addicts tend to become reclusive. They are spending much of their free time in front of a computer monitor instead of interacting with others face-to-face. They can satisfy their urges by merely logging on to the Internet, watching a video, or opening a magazine. As a result, they often feel lonely, have weak developed social skills and quickly become depressed and suicidal.
Sex Addiction is defined as any sexually-related compulsive behaviour that interferes with everyday living and causes severe stress on a family, friends, loved ones, and work environment. A sex addict is continuously on the hunt for new partners and new avenues to express their sexuality. Therefore, sex addicts are generally more social people than porn addicts.
- Every second, over R 36 000 is spent on internet pornography.
- Over 28,000 internet users are viewing porn every second.
- Forty million Americans are regular users of porn sites.
- 25% of all search engine requests are pornography related.
- Sixty-eight million searches are conducted a day that are pornography related.
- 35% of all internet downloads are pornographic.
- There are 116,000 searches for child pornography daily.
- Although the average age at which a child first sees porn online is 11, children as young as seven years are exposed to porn on their cell phones.
- Every 39 minutes, a new pornographic video is created in the USA.
- The number one type of sexual addiction is the habitual viewing of pornography.
South African exposure to porn: statistics ¹
The Bureau of Youth Research at UNISA released the following statistics in 2017 about the exposure of South African high school learners to pornography:
- 7% of male learners and
- 9% of female learners have been exposed to porn.
- 5% encountered porn while surfing the Internet for entertainment
- 8% first reaction was to continue viewing the content
- 8% of learners said they informed adult/showed adult
Although the average age at which a child first sees porn online is 11, children as young as seven years are exposed to porn on their cell phones.
The pathway to porn addiction:
1st step – Addiction:
The repeated return to porn material characterizes this stage. Children between the ages of 12 – 17 are the biggest consumers of online porn. Unfortunately, boys think they can learn more about females by watching porn. Once the consumer gets hooked, they keep coming back for more, and still more, of this powerful imagery. Once addicted, they cannot get rid of this dependency by themselves. There are new statistics that teenage boys are being diagnosed with erectile dysfunction due to advanced pornography abuse.
2nd step – Escalation:
Over time, the addict requires rougher, more explicit, more deviant, and “kinky” sexual material to achieve the same ‘high’. When you watch porn, massive dopamine is released in your brain that gets you hooked. At this stage, if their wives or partners are involved with them, they eventually push their partners into doing increasingly bizarre and deviant sexual activities. In many cases, this results in a broken relationship when the partner refuses to go further or participate. Bad behaviour often leads to much conflict, separation and eventually can lead to divorce.
3rd step – Desensitization:
It is when what was previously seen as gross now becomes an acceptable “turn on”. Material that was taboo, repulsive, and even illegal in time is seen as good. The person believes that this type of antisocial or deviant sexual activity depicted is regular, even if it is unlawful and contrary to their standards and moral beliefs.
4th step: Acting out:
This 4th phase is the increasing tendency to act out sexually the behaviours viewed in pornography. Merely looking no longer satisfies the addict. They have to act out fantasies. The addict has been repeatedly exposed to compulsive promiscuity, exhibitionism, group sex, voyeurism, frequenting strip clubs and massage parlours, even having sex with children, rape, and inflicting pain on themselves or a partner during sex.
Compiled by: Clive Human, The Secret in our Pews.
The Last Interview with Ted Bundy, a serial killer who murdered 35 women:
“In Ted Bundy’s final interview on the day of his execution, James Dobson uncovered the knowledge that the impetus of this serial killer’s criminal rampage began with an addiction to pornography which escalated to acting out.” Susan Knight, FamilyShare
Teens seeking help for porn addiction:
“Well, I have a super-hyper-mega problem with porn. It’s difficult. I watch it every day. I can’t live without it.”
When asked when she engages in this behaviour, she said:” I don’t know…. I want to have alone time, you know….”
We explained how addictive it is, and she replied:” Is it like a drug? O’ hell!!! I am in a deeper mess than I thought, hey?”
An 18 yr boy asked for help on porn addiction. Below is his story:
“Hellow. I have been struggling with porn since I was 14. I need help now. I’m 18. I’m addicted to porn and its getting out of hand. Try quitting watching pornography and mastibating. I can’t stop I, its like a drug inside me.
I am scared and lonely I am thinking of killing myself, my life is worthless. Girls always reject me nothing I do or say make the like me. I don’t know how to behave around people. I am used to be alone so the treat me like trash I spent my time watching porn. I am scared. I didn’t pass matric. I failed, my family is disappointed in me.
I started watching pornography when I was 15. It was good at first then I started mastibating . When I was 16 I began to be social isolated. I didn’t want to hang people, I wanted to be alone. I think it was the point depression got to me. When I was 17 I wanted sex so bad I started living in a fantasy inside my head. I did not believe in reality. I lost my friends because they were judgmental about the issue. Also I learn new way to hide pornography in my phone. Then pornography started taking over in my life I lost control. I just wish I could quit this.”
The 18-year-old boy -banned from a sex-chat site
BOY: ”I believe I may have done something wrong over a sex chat site, and am seeking legal advice. I was recently IP banned from two different sex chat sites, in the last few days. Before I explain, how secure is this, meaning what I say, can it be linked back to my IP address? In the first site, I misread the person’s age and asked for a nude, which she consented to, provided that I share also.
After she sent, i looked again, saw her age, and sent a fake pic of me, and after some more chatting, when she asked for more pics, I refused, and the conversation ended. Ok, so in the second site, I talked with several people, some underage. I did not see any pictures of them, and limited contact to role play only. I recently turned 18, and about a week ago was my first experience with a sex chat. I shared several pics with others, and while the subjects were young, they were not illegal, at least I don’t think so.”
COUNSELLOR: From where did you access these sites: from your PC on an open Internet link?
BOY: ”I was on the private browser, using home Wi-fi, no VPN or proxy, nothing much actually. also, even dumber, the email that I used is a school account, so its even less anonymous.. So I don’t mind getting banned for breaking a rule, its more I’m worried if they share information with Feds, and then I have to worry about knock-on-door, you know what I mean?”
COUNSELLOR: What are the reasons you joined in this activity? Did pornography play a role in this?
BOY: ”Well, I was looking more for role-playing, and yes, of course, porn is a part of my life. Well, I started when I was about 12-13, and what made me start? Well, rubbing off is a lot easier to porn than just imagination.”
Viewing porn excites the mind and sexually arouses the body. Dopamine, the chemical triggered by sexual arousal and orgasm, also triggers addiction pathways in the brain. The porn addict has a desire to act out sexually and relieve sexual tension. Most often, this is done by masturbation.
Watching pornography is habit-forming, and so is masturbation. The two together become a powerful force for addiction. The self-stimulation to a sexual climax is momentarily pleasurable, and it can initially elevate a person’s mood, providing a momentary “high.” Unfortunately, that usually results in the temptation to repeatedly replicate these feelings, potentially producing an obsessive-compulsive pattern if not stopped in time by the obvious red flags.
If a man says: “My marriage is in trouble. My wife doesn’t please me anymore or enough – watching porn fulfil my needs. It is destroying my marriage. What can I do?
We often get this type of message on our helpline. If we ask a few questions, we find out porn was part of the man’s life long before he got married. In most marriages, there is a drop in sexual intercourse after a few years. It is usually acceptable as they focus on their jobs, carry on with many daily activities and raise kids.
Porn addicts find it difficult to adjust to not having as much sex because watching porn causes a higher sex drive. It is an overwhelming desire, and it requires the partner to take part fully in watching and have such a high sex drive. If the partner loses interest because she, for example, was never into porn, the porn addict starts blaming the wife. She is cold, only interested in her work or kids. As a result, the marriage starts falling apart. The husband can isolate himself and spend more time alone on the Internet, or he might connect with girls online or even visit strip clubs to get his release. Once he gets caught out, the marriage crumbles.
On the other side, the partner or wife gets upset by the demands of the porn addict. Porn addicts don’t get the same release forever from watching the same type of pornography. It escalates, and stuff that was a no-go zone to watch before now becomes acceptable, for example, violent pornography such as rape or child pornography. A wife can also start feeling she is not good enough because no one looks like a porn star in real life. What the porn addict expects from her can even freak her out.
Porn changes your expectations of a relationship in so many ways that it is a super bad idea to learn about sex by watching pornography.
The following article describes the problems watching porn can cause in more detail:
Considering the symptoms and comparing them to those we know from other addictions, the similarities are alarming.
Porn addicts that watch porn excessively have a range of symptoms:
- Social anxiety
- Erectile dysfunction
- Lack of interest in real sex
- Lack of interest in anything other than porn
- Relationship & Marital issues
- Employment issues & Jobless
- Poor academic performance
Virtual Reality Cybersex is also becoming more readily available. The current scope of this technology allows users to interact sexually in a virtual world using your finger touching a screen image. Cybersex (sexual stimulation on the Internet) is transforming our sexuality. The Internet has become the primary broker of the global sex market and the global sexual exploitation of children. Predators become virtual, anonymous and untraceable—or so they think.
Morgan Bennett is of the opinion that the Internet is the biggest drug dealer in the USA – because of pornography.
The worldwide web has allowed a ‘virtual marketplace to emerge’, supported by robust criminal networks and businesses. Technology has enabled a proliferation of child pornography, allowing the material to be digitally produced, stored, shared, and distributed online. While it is estimated that approximately 7,000 child pornography images were in circulation in 1990, a total of 2.5 million impressions were recovered from one case alone in 2014.
- Sexual addiction using cybersex, once started, escalates quite quickly.
- Sexual addiction on the Internet will extend to non-internet behaviours (like cheating on your partner, visiting strip clubs, having sex with prostitutes, raping women, etc.).
- Sexual addiction magnifies behaviours (feelings of depression and suicide, relationship problems, etc.) as well as associated problems (e.g. drugs, alcohol, nicotine, gambling. etc.).
- Sexual addiction will negatively affect your work, relationships, finances, health, etc., once it gets out of control. There comes the point where you won’t control your acting-out due to the addition, and your compulsive behaviours will eventually destroy you and your relationships.
References & Articles to read:
¹ EXPOSURE TO ONLINE SEXUAL CONTENT AMONG SECONDARY SCHOOL LEARNERS IN GAUTENG (TECHNICAL REPORT) Research Report No 479. Bureau of Market Research. UNISA