Symptoms of Porn Addiction
Its 10.15 pm and Keith is getting restless. The kids are in bed and Keith’s wife Stacy usually goes to bed by 10 pm. But tonight Stacy seems to be dawdling. Keith is feeling impatient. He has already told his wife that he will stay up to “finish up a report for work”. As soon as Stacy goes upstairs, Keith heads for his office. A familiar rush goes through him as he goes through the nightly ritual – turning on his laptop, adjusting his chair and waiting for the computer to get ready. “Tonight”, Keith tells himself, “I will go to bed by midnight”. But that’s what Keith had told himself last night and yet it was 4 am before he had turned in. As Keith gets settled in and becomes absorbed in the pornographic images flashing on the screen, he goes into a daze and the hours fly by. Before he knows it, it is 4 am. Just like yesterday and the night before.
Keith knows that these nightly rituals are taking a toll on his health, his productivity at work and, his relationship with his wife. And yet he just cannot stop. Keith remembers the times that he has tried unsuccessfully to stop. He is filled with feelings of shame, embarrassment and a rising sense of panic as he watches his obsession spin out of control. He is too ashamed and guilt-ridden to seek help and “no one would understand anyway” he tells himself.
The first question to ask yourself is “Could it be possible that I have an addiction?”
Now, answer the question. Recovery begins as soon as you answer the question honestly.
One way of doing this is to look at the symptoms as they show up in your life and confront them. Here is a checklist of common behaviors that people with addiction to pornography engage in. Check off the items that match your behaviors.
Are you Addicted to Internet Pornography?
• I hide my sexual activity on the Internet from my family members?
• I feel ashamed about my Internet use?
• I frequently erase the history files on my computer to hide the nature of internet use
• I have bookmarked a few sexual websites
• I often masturbate while looking at pornography
• I have participated in sexual chat rooms
• I stay up late to access pornography on my computer
• I have unsuccessfully tried to cut down the time I spend on cybersex
• I promise myself that tomorrow next week I will change my cybersex habits only to break them
• Internet sex has interfered with several aspects of my life
• I wait impatiently for the time when I can get on my computer and felt frustrated and even angry when for some reason I cannot
• I have accessed pornography from computers at work, or computers that belong to friends or family members
• I use pornography to reward/soothe myself after a particularly stressful day, after an argument, etc.
• I have increased the amount of time I spend looking at pornography
• I have found myself in an online trance during which hours have slipped by.
• I find myself preoccupied with thoughts about pornography
• I use a sexualized user name
• I find that the patterns of my internet use take me away from family and relationships
If you have checked off only one or two items on the checklist, you still may have a problem with pornography addiction. It may be in the beginning stages. If you have checked off several of the above items, your addiction has progressed. Justifying and rationalizing your behaviors are a natural part of this process but don’t let these deter you from seeking help. I understand what you are going through is tough but recovery is possible.
Most people that I see in my office tell me that they know that their obsession with pornography is out of control and it is unhealthy. Earnestly, they tell me that they have tried to stop, but cannot and don’t know how. They also tell me about their overwhelming feelings of shame. Until now, they have been too ashamed to ask for help. They fear that no one would understand and they would be judged and called a “pervert”.
I tell them, “I’m glad you came”.
Causes of Addiction: Addiction is really a maladaptive coping mechanism meant to numb you from experiencing difficult emotions. Perhaps you had a difficult day at work –your boss said something demeaning, you were passed over for a promotion, etc. You came home and told yourself that you deserved a break. Looking at pornography gave you a means to escape from the difficult emotions you were feeling. These could be anger, embarrassment, shame, hurt or powerlessness. Whatever the feeling, you had found a way to numb it. It works well for a while until it progresses to a stage where you use it for everything. It begins to rule you and your life.
But help is available! Call 703-723-6998 or Toll Free: 1-888-438-8989 Today.
To learn more about Addiction and dynamic new ways to treatment, check out: http://www.InnerBalanceandPeace.com
For Telephone Coaching for Recovery, contact [email protected]
Office Address: 19465 Deerfield Avenue, # 409, Leesburg, Virginia 20176
Rochna Hazra is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Virginia and has a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Virginia Tech. Originally from India, she brings a beautiful and unique blend of the East and the West. She combines the Eastern traditions of mindfulness, non-judgment and a holistic approach to healing with the Western approach of realism and solution-focused action that she has gained from her education, training and work.
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