WHAT IS ONLINE PORN ADDICTION EXACTLY?

Q:
Can you tell me about online porn addiction and how I can tell if I have a problem with it?
A:
For the last couple of months there has been intense media attention on the topic of sex addiction, due to several celebrities dealing with the issue while the public weighs in on what is sex addiction, how is it diagnosed and how is it treated. One area that is part of sex addiction, and not getting quite as much attention is sex addiction on the internet. Interestingly, over 60% of people who seek help for cybersex addiction are individuals who normally wouldnt go to a strip club or rent an adult video but are downloading online pornography or talking with strangers in sexually explicit adult chat rooms. With the relatively new phenomenon of cybersex generally, comes the downside: addiction. Some people just cant get enough. In fact, researcher Dr Al Cooper calls cybersex the crack cocaine of sexual compulsivity and found that the web has lured and trapped them, and they cannot break free from it to the degree that some people needed intensive therapy to free themselves of their addiction to internet sex.

The temptation of interacting with people online, sometimes several simultaneously, combined with the lure of feeling desired, the appeal of expressing an alter ego not ones own in real life, and the wish to escape from ones problems in the real world, create an intoxicatingly addictive environment, and the net quickly snares even the most casual user into spending hours and hours more than they should, or mean to, online. Its called the Triple Threat: AAA: Accessibility, Affordability and Anonymity. These three factors combined can allow for a slippery slope from mild curiosity to manic compulsion.

The Net has been compared to the most powerful of drugs, because of its immediate gratification. It takes seconds to download images, and talking in a chat room is as quick as a flash. It becomes hard to pull away, and for those with a problem, the withdrawal is intense. This is the nature of addiction and if someone feels they cannot control their bheavior on the net, there is clearly a problem, which if untreated will almost certainly get worse, sometimes with disastrous consequences to the persons life, family, finances and even freedom.

Counsellors and health workers are only just beginning to comprehend the scope of problems associated with Internet, chat, and cybersex addiction. People who cannot pull themselves out of the trap of the web become more attached to the virtual world, than the real world. Mothers who were supposed to make dinner for the kids at six oclock, can still be typing away at nine pm. Partners who were supposed to join their spouse in bed at eleven, can still be up in front of the glare of the screen at four in the morning. Relationships can break down, as communication in the real world pales in comparison to dotcom flirting. Even single people can find they would rather stay at home and chat to their new affair in Prague or Paraguay than head to the pub with their friends. The seductive appeal of the net can entrap nearly anyone whos not careful, and the two most common side effects of cybersex addiction are impairment of job performance, and destruction of relationships, of both friends and lovers. A new investigation has found that cybersex increases a persons threshold for risk-taking. As the addiction to cybersex deepens, people who normally are clearheaded, become greater risk-takers, and become more willing to give out personal details, and travel to meet strangers alone. This can be dangerous and have frightening consequences. If you find you are at a stage where you are looking at images that you once might have found disturbing, but now find erotic, take a step back, get in touch with a counsellor and talk about the potential that you might be addicted do it now, before you find yourself engaging in any illegal activity, or visiting illegal sites. Cybersex is only safe sex if it has suitable limits, and those must always be kept in check danger can literally be a click away.

How do you know if you have a problem, and what can you do about it? There has been a lot of discussion about addiction, but not a lot of practical where to and how to get help.

The ten basic warning signs that suggest that you may have crossed the line with your online sexual habits, as determined by Dr. Kimberly Young, Executive Director of the Center for On-Line Addiction are:
  • Do you routinely spend significant amounts of time in chat rooms and private messaging with the sole purpose of finding cybersex?
  • Do you feel preoccupied with using the Internet to find online sexual partners?
  • Do you frequently use anonymous communication to engage in sexual fantasies not typically carried out in real-life?
  • Do you anticipate your next on-line session with the expectation that you will find sexual arousal or gratification?
  • Do you find that you frequently move from cybersex to phone sex, or even real-life meetings?
  • Do you hide your online interactions from your loved ones?
  • Do you feel guilt or shame about your online activities?
  • Did you accidentally become aroused by cybersex at first, and now find that you actively seek it out when you log online?
  • Do you routinely masturbate while online?
  • Do you feel less investment with your real-life sexual partner, preferring cybersex as a primary form of sexual gratification?

If you answered Yes to at least five of the ten warning questions, then you may have a problem. Make an appointment with a counsellor, or start by visiting the On-Line addiction site to learn more, at http://www.netaddiction.com.

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