For those who struggle with pornography addiction, and their loved ones, successful recovery requires a basic understanding of the addiction.  There are eight characteristics of pornography addiction.  In each of the next four articles I will discuss two characteristics.  It is my hope that this information will encourage readers to study more about pornography addiction and recovery.

In order to discuss pornography addiction we must first define it.   Pornography addiction is a type of sexual addiction.  Although there are many definitions for sexual addiction, the one I like best was developed by Dr. Mark Laaser:  

  • Sexual addiction is “any persistent and escalating unhealthy pattern of sexual behavior.  It is compulsive in nature, and used to avoid or change feelings despite destructive consequences to self and others.”    

According to Dr. Laaser there are eight characteristics of sexual addiction.  These can also be applied to pornography users.  The characteristics are:

  1. It is Unmanageable
  2. It Creates a Neurochemical Tolerance
  3. It is Degenerative and Progressive
  4. It has Negative and Destructive Consequences
  5. It is Used to Escape Negative Feelings
  6. It is Justified by the Concept of Entitlement
  7. It is Used as a Reward
  8. It Provides a Feeling of Power

In this, and each of the next three articles, I will discuss two characteristics.  Here I discuss the first two characteristics.

  • It is Unmanageable.  In 12-step groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, the first step to recovery is admitting one has a problem and that one is powerless over it – that the addict’s life has become unmanageable.  Many addicted people will confess that they feel like their addiction has taken over their minds, bodies and free will.  When they feel the “itch to use,” they believe they cannot help themselves, but to “scratch the itch.”  This leads to a life that is totally out of control and unmanageable.  This is also symptomatic of a lack of trust in God.  Whether they realize it or not, addicts struggle to place their trust in God, especially when times are tough.  Instead of turning to God for help, they choose to self-medicate.  This constant self-medicating leads to addiction and a life that is totally out of control – unmanageable.

How has pornography use left your life unmanageable?

  • It Creates a Neurochemical Tolerance.  Viewing pornography triggers several neurochemical reactions in the brain.  This produces a high feeling, which is intensified with an orgasm.  This neurochemical high is also experienced when using drugs, such as cocaine or heroin. As with any other drug, a tolerance soon develops.  More is needed to get the same effect.  Thus, a man will spend increasing amounts of time online viewing pornography.  Instead of spending 20 minutes once a week viewing pornography, he now views it daily, perhaps for over an hour.   

How has your use of pornography increased over time?

Tomorrow, I will focus on characteristics three and four:

  • It is Degenerative and Progressive.  
  • It has Negative, Destructive Consequences.