Suspect you have a Problem with Porn? How to get Help

Once upon a time, back in the ‘70s, young adults used to sidle up to the counter at the 7-11, take a look around, and in a voice low enough to make him lean in a little bit, ask the clerk for a  playboy magazine, without quite meeting his eyes. There was something a little furtive, but shooting for some low-key swagger. The clerk would reach under the counter, grab the magazine and slip it into a brown-paper magazine bag, with a little sleight of hand, quick, so no one would see. Not illegal, but illicit. Like buying a Cigarillo.

Socially, we argued for the merits of the articles and how fascinating the beautiful women were, and we worried about the children, and that wives would get upset. If you had a subscription to “girlie” magazines, it would be delivered in a plain brown wrapper, so as not to shock the postman or others in the household.

For those of us who are feeling ancient right about now, it’s  definitely all changed! Remember when Hustler’s one lone little magazine caused all that stir?!

Well!!! All that sounds downright quaint doesn’t it?

Now, we are not only bombarded by lots of skin and sex in all aspects of advertising, media and
fashion, but pornography of every conceivable stripe has proliferated (exponentially) online,
and it has changed over the last 50 years — in terms of both availability and variety. There is an
abundance of pornographic material, the likes of which we have never seen before, and people
like it — love it — across the world. In fact, HUGE numbers of people watch porn a month,
relative to their indulgence in other things.

A 2016 study by SAMHSA found that in a a ‘prior month’survey, 157.5 million Americans reported using porn, compared to 136.7 using Alcohol and 29.6 using drugs. The Drugs category
includes both marijuana and illicit prescription drug use.


Men, in particular, are highly receptive to porn, just by the numbers. But there’s strong interest
among women as well. Women are a full third of the porn-watching population, and they may
just be a little slower to the party.
There are theories about why that might be. In terms of evolution, since there are advantages
for men in “sowing their seed” widely, and thus being readily attracted by surface attributes
and immediate attraction rather than longer-term considerations. Culturally, there are
demands to conform to monogamy and other cultural impositions on sex, and pornography
may be an easy way to compensate. Technology has introduced all kinds of new
viewing/fantasy options, and that will continue to develop.
There are also theories about whether porn is good or bad for us physically, socially, and
morally and what, if anything we should be doing about it! It’s become very normalized, and
growing acceptance of lifestyle choices and peoples’ rights to make them probably encourages
exploration. However, there are also strong factions, particularly in the US, which strongly
oppose all pornography, addictive or not.
There is so much that is interesting about the history of pornography, the ways it has developed
over the years, our responses as a society, landmark court cases, powerfully differing views
between secular and traditionally religious organizations, growing understanding that not
fitting a stereotyped “norm” doesn’t make someone abnormal, and current fierce debates
about where this and other behavioral issues fit into what we think we know about addiction
and recovery to date.

Regardless of what sides you may come down on in terms of those particular debates, as with
anything, we can overuse and misuse pornography to our own detriment.

What are some symptoms of pornography addiction?
Do you:

  • Hide your pornography use?
  • Find watching pornography addictively is interfering with other areas of your life (sleep,
    relationships …)?
  • Worry about when you can next watch?
  •  Avoid other activities so that you can watch pornography instead?
  • Argue with your partner about watching pornography?
  • Feel guilty when you watch porn

If you answer yes to one or even all of those, don’t panic! There isn’t even an official label for
addiction to pornography, but a good overall guide might be the way Dr. Stanton Peele couched
it in one of his recent books:

Addiction is a way of relating to the world. It is a response to an experience people get
from some activity or object. [People] become absorbed in this experience because it
provides them with essential emotional rewards, but it progressively limits and harms
their lives.”

We don’t want to minimize or over-state the dangers of various addictive behaviors. We want
to help people tap into reliable ways to examine and re-create the pursuits and habits in their
lives that will better serve them, so they’re free to find joy and fulfillment for themselves and
for the good of their greater communities.

Is Treatment Available for Pornography Addiction?

LPP offers a process you can employ when faced with things you might like to change in your
attitudes, actions and reactions to our world.
A good place to start if you feel like something might be off- kilter is by increasing your own
personal awareness and taking an objective look. Some suggestions:

Take a calendar of some sort – a wall calendar or a small desk calendar where you can
jot a little symbol or a smiley face, or a checkmark or a number, just for your own
knowledge — and start to keep track of what your patterns look like, over the course of a
week or so.

  • Think about what you’d like your daily life to look like. Where does this interfere?
  • What are the costs? What makes you think you need to look at this?
  • What if you were to reduce your current behavior – restrict it to a certain time of day?
  • Reduce the number of times a day or week? Whatever seems workable to you. See how
    it goes (and record it)?

From there, you can start to look at your options so you can move away from addictive
behavior towards healthier, ultimately more joyful, activities.
The Life Process Program, with your own personal coach to guide you, can help you create a
unique plan focused on the goals you set, in alignment with your own personal values.
We want to truly meet you where you are, right in the comfort and privacy of your own home,
at your own pace, in pursuit of your own personal goals for health and well-being!

Stanton Peele

Dr. Stanton Peele, recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts, developed the Life Process Program after decades of research, writing, and treatment about and for people with addictions. Dr. Peele is the author of 14 books. His work has been published in leading professional journals and popular publications around the globe.

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