Pornography Addiction

Porn is everywhere, and everyone is doing it...computers, movies, magazines, and video clips on cell phones...all are part of everyday life for some people. So, what's the big deal? Think there is any downside? Is porn something you want to be part of your life? Or are you more interested in real relationships with real people?

The cost of porn? Reduction of your capacity to have meaningful and fulfilling relationships (not just sexual relationships.) You become shut off from the richness and fullness of life. And, it is not true that "nobody knows". You may never be "caught in the act", but if you have a partner, she knows; others know by how you relate to people. Your loneliness and isolation increase.

Here's what happens to the porn user: porn leads to masturbation which produces the body's own opiates, the most addicting drugs known, comparable to Heroin. You want more. As you use more, your brain becomes trained to sexualize everything. Your sense of humor changes and only sexual jokes are funny. You are not available to your friend who is having relationship problems, because all you know is sex. You become cynical about healthy relationships. You begin to think provocatively at inappropriate times and places, then with inappropriate people; only your sexual satisfaction is important. As with all addictions, there is escalation and progression. What you find stimulating now is more hard core than it was a year ago. Where will it be next year?

The foremost reason for relationship breakdown is difficulty with intimacy. Men and women who use porn either lose or never develop a capacity for intimacy. Their primary relationship becomes the person or persons on the screen or in the magazines. Normal human beings have some fear of emotional intimacy. Allowing another person into our lives is scary, risky, and makes us vulnerable. We could be laughed at, dumped, or otherwise hurt, and when we have opened ourselves up to someone and formed an emotional and physical attachment, we are even more vulnerable. Yet this intimacy is the most rewarding and fulfilling thing a human being can have. So...have your fear, tell your partner you are scared, walk through it, but don't let your fear paralyze you and drive you away from intimacy with a person and into the anonymous isolated sex of the internet, TV, or movie screen. 77% of internet porn users are male. 46% are married. How would you feel if your partner went elsewhere for sexual satisfaction?

Pornography desensitizes people; it sends a distorted message and is unlike real sexual relationships. Porn is most confusing for those who are inexperienced sexually, and the average age of introduction to porn is eleven! Someone recently compared porn use to race car driving: if a teenager who does not yet drive thinks "Need for Speed" is what all driving is about, it becomes difficult for him to drive normally. His expectations are completely out of line. If you expect race car driving every time you get in your car, normal driving will be boring. Similarly, if porn becomes your standard for sex, normal sex will not meet your expectations.

Erectile dysfunction, impotence, and loss of libido, are common consequences of porn addiction. The unreal expectations often result in the inability to have real sex with a real person. Persons addicted to internet sex, or other porn, find they lose interest in and ability to perform with a person. They cannot break away from the excess and fantasy of porn and return to the reality of human relationships except with prostitutes. Google "porn, erectile dysfunction" and go to a forum to read experiences people have had with impotence following regular porn use. Example: Twenty-five year old man, masturbating regularly to internet porn, meets new girlfriend, cannot perform sexually with her. Twenty-five!

If porn is doing harm to you and your relationship, or someone you know, get help. Start by telling someone...a counselor, or therapist, or calling the number below to attend a program coming to Steamboat. Get rid of your computer, or get a filter. Get help for you and your partner and increase emotional intimacy with each other.

"Porn and Pancakes" will be in Steamboat on Sat. August 16, 8 to 11 AM, at the SS Community Center, $8. This is an educational and entertaining program providing information about porn. It is open to men and boys ages 11 and up. Call 970-846-6755 for more information or to buy tickets, or just show up. Attending does not mean you are a porn addict. Almost everyone knows someone who struggles with this issue. This program will help you to learn how to be part of the solution.

Sex Addicts Anonymous is a 12 step group for people who want to stop compulsive sexual behavior. Call 970-556-3868 to find out more.

Dr. Dawn Obrecht is the only MD addiction medicine specialist on the western slope of Colorado. She is a Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and her office is in Steamboat Springs. or info@docdawn.com

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