Pornography Addiction & Sobriety


Further Reading

My wife accepts my pornography addiction; but how is this related to my sobriety?

Dear Stanton,

I have been a member of AA for almost twenty years. I take my sobriety seriously and attend frequent meetings and have many AA friends.

My problem is I masturbate a couple times a day and spend a lot of time online viewing pornography. I have been married 18 years have never had sex with anyone but my wife. We have a caring sex life. She lost her sexual drive years ago but knows it’s important to me so does her best to make me happy. She has no problem with the pornography or masturbation. My problem is I’m tired of this obsession and the guilt it causes me. Any suggestions?


Dear Ralph:

People need sex in their lives. If you take your marriage seriously (and it seems that you do), people ordinarily expect sexual relations to take place in that context. I would suggest marital and/or sexual therapy for you and your wife. Our online pornography addiction program may also be a useful resource for you.

The statement, “She lost her sexual drive years ago” I don’t think should be taken as a given, any more than you would accept, “I had to get drunk regularly because I was an alcoholic.”

Pornography is one solution to the absence of actual satisfying sex in your life. But, just as drinking was a solution at one time for issues in your life, pornography carries with it negatives like guilt, lack of actual satisfaction, and a tendency to escalate into excessiveness. Do you ever share pornography with you wife, as in watching videos together?

In some societies, and for some people in our society, marital and sexual relations can be separated (as you are currently doing). One other version of this is to have sex with other women. Most people find this an aberrant idea. But is it really very different from what you are doing now? The main objection would be that (a) such extramarital sex is more likely to become public, (b) some people follow their sexual urges and deposit their love with their sex.

I wonder if there is any relationship between your former drinking, or your current AA membership, and your lack of marital satisfaction. What was the timing of your wife’s having lost her sexual urge? Was it as a result of alcoholic excesses on your part? Or could it possibly be connected to your emotional investment in AA? I think it is worth exploring some possible explanations for an unsatisfactory development in your personal life in relation to your drinking/sobriety.

Yours best,

Stanton Peele

Stanton Peele , recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts by The Fix, 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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