QUESTION: I like to look at a lot of porn on the Internet, but I’m not quite sure I’m addicted. How do I really know?

ANSWER: Well, you’ve come to a porn addiction site to ask a question about something that sounds like you think may be a problem. That’s red flag territory to me. Does it really matter if we call it a bad habit, negative hobby or addiction? “Addict” and “Addiction” are really just labels. There is no blood test to take that comes up “Addict” or “Non-Addict.”

There are variations on what being an addict means to people. I came to the realization I was an addict when I checked off these boxes:

  • A desire to cease my behavior, but an almost unconscious inability to do so.
  • Negative effects of the behavior started having an effect on my regular life, but again, I couldn’t stop.
  • Promising myself to stop the behavior despite seeing the negative effects, and still being unable.
  • The behavior escalated in duration, frequency, and extremeness to meet the needs it once did.
  • Eventual financial, personal, or legal issues arose as a result of my addiction.

You may be in the early stages of addiction, where nobody can see what’s going on except you. You may be in the ongoing stages, where it’s starting to have an effect and people are wondering what’s wrong with you or you could be in the critical phase where things are close to going very bad for you. I was in the last stage and didn’t realize it. I didn’t call myself a true porn addict until more than a year after I was arrested and had stopped using it. For a more in-depth understanding of the phases, click HERE.

If what you need is that label of “Addict” to get some further help and look into it deeper, then by all means, you’re an addict.

If you feel like you can’t stop, or at least limit your behavior and it’s having negative effects, you need to stop this as soon as possible because you can find yourself heading down roads you never thought you would. I ended up engaging a teenage girl in a chatroom. That’s still crazy for me to write. Maybe you don’t get in legal trouble, but what if you reached a point where you couldn’t “finish” with your partner unless you were looking at porn? That’s becoming a bigger problem than ever. What if you lost your job because you were just trying to sneak a peek at work? More than a quarter of people say they have viewed porn at work…a potential addict seems like they’d be in that group.

We haven’t even talked about what the REAL problem is. Porn addiction, like all addiction, is almost always a symptom of something else. It’s a coping mechanism, a masking agent and a survival instinct rolled into one. You may not think there is a deeper problem, but I bet with a handful of therapy sessions, you might start to understand there’s some other stuff going on there.

So…yes, you’re an addict. Go get help. You can check out my Resources page if you need a place to start. Click HERE

Q&As are posted every other week. If you’d like to read the other Q&As to this point, click HERE

DISCLAIMER: I have no formal training in counseling or medicine. My advice comes from experience as an addict and as someone in recovery for over four years. Please take my words only as suggestions and before doing anything drastic, always consult with a professional. If you’d like me to answer a question publicly, either post it in the comment section or visit the contact page. Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

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