Judging by the statistics, internet pornography addiction is at least becoming the norm if not the normal.  One question that arises is how we as a society should respond to this phenomenon and why.

23 million porn addicts in the U.S., and that’s just the adults

The article “Pornography: ‘Everybody’s Watching it, Statistics Say” states that 30 percent of all web traffic is porn and that porn sites attract the greatest volume of web traffic.

According to the article “Internet Pornography Statistics”

“A total of 40 million U.S. adults regularly visit pornography websites.  Ten percent of adults admit to an internet sexual addiction (my italics) and 20 percent of men say they access pornography at work.”

If 10% of adults are internet porn addicts and there are roughly 232 million adults in the U.S., then there are 23 million internet porn addicts in the U.S.  And this doesn’t count the underage porn users who are watching internet porn in increasing numbers.

The analogy with drugs

More people seem to be getting addicted faster to internet pornography than to other sexual addictive behaviors.  One common analogy is that internet pornography is “the crack cocaine of sex addiction.” In other words one substance can be more addictive than another;  a larger proportion of the population are susceptible to the addiction, they will get addicted faster, and the addiction will be harder to kick.  In this analogy, internet porn is something of a public health emergency and an epidemic.

The analogy with alcoholism

Some people are social drinkers and some are alcoholics.  Perhaps we will just become a society that accepts the fact that some people can use pornography in moderation and some can’t.  Maybe this will become accepted and de-stigmatized in the same way that alcoholism has over time.  We’ll discuss it with our doctors, or we’ll go in for rehab and no one will think much about it.  Although there are risks associated with sex addiction, becoming a heavy porn user is not likely to cause the kind of social outrage that drunk driving (justifiably) has.

The analogy with cigarette smoking

Perhaps internet pornography addiction will become like cigarette addiction; something that is seen as a health hazard and a danger to children and other innocent bystanders.  In this scenario, Public awareness would bring about a change in people’s thinking and would cause them to voluntarily give up or limit their porn use and to place it out of reach of underage youth.  Maybe there is a porn “patch” in the works much like the nicotine patches that help people quit cigarettes.

Where are we now? Medicalization vs. criminalization

There are two basic public responses to internet pornography going on at this time.  One is the strong and growing anti-porn movement visible in grassroots websites like Pornharms.com and some church based web pages. Additionally, in the political arena, the U.K. recently proposed a law requiring porn filters on all computers and some presidential candidates in the U.S. have stated that they would ban all internet pornography if elected.

Then there are those of us in the psychology and addiction field who see porn addiction as a disease rather than a menace and are looking for the root causes in brain science, human development and sociological trends, and are more focused on treatment and prevention rather than on legalistic control.

Is pornography a national emergency or just a “phase”?

Should we fight internet porn or should we as a society just get used to it?  No definitive evidence yet proves that porn use leads to sex offenses, although there is some evidence that it increasingly leads to divorce, intimacy issues,  and erectile dysfunction (see “The Demise of Guys,” and “Porn-Induced Sexual Dysfunction is a Growing Problem.”)  There is also some preliminary evidence that viewing child porn leads to sexualizing children, although not necessarily to sexual contact with  them.

Perhaps the best outcome would be that we grow out of our collective fascination with internet porn and begin to see it as essentially superficial and unsatisfying in some  basic ways.  In the meantime we have treatment.

 

 


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    Last reviewed: 9 Aug 2012

APA Reference
Hatch, L. (2012). Is Porn Addiction the “New Normal?”. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 25, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex-addiction/2012/07/is-porn-addiction-the-%e2%80%9cnew-normal%e2%80%9d/

 




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Relationships in Recovery & Living with a Sex Addict.


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