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Sexual addiction is real and problematic

answered 10:15 AM EST, Sun November 13, 2011
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I feel like I am addicted to porn but I don’t really understand how this can happen? I understand how addiction happens when you drink or take drugs, but how can just looking at pictures and movies cause a brain addiction?

Delisted Expert Says...

Dear Anonymous,

It is estimated that one out of ten people are sexually addicted which is the comparable rate for alcoholism. The brain responds to pictures and video as it would it real life situations. When you expose yourself to pornography, your neurotransmitters in your brain are stimulated as if you are doing drugs or alcohol. A person grows to like and desire pornography because of what it offers him or her as pleasure-seeking. This preoccupation or activity can help a person avoid "pain" by seeking pleasure. For many people they develop a dependency on these provocative images and acts which begin to occupy more and more of their lives. A key feature of addiction is loss of control. An example of this with pornography would be the person who cannot wait to view pornography at home but begins to watch it at work. These indivdiuals are often identified by their employers as having a pornography problem. This is acutally sexual addiction. For more information, you can google Patrick Carnes, Ph.D., who is a psychologist who specializes in sexual addiction. He wrote an excellent book about sexual addiction called "Out of the Shadows." His website info is:

http://www.pinegrovetreatment.com/patrick-carnes.html

For individuals with pornography issues, his excellent book about this is: "In the Shadows of the Net." There is help for people who are challenged by sexual addiction. These groups or organizations are Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sex Love Addicts Anonymous, and Sexual Compulsives Anonymous. They are 12 Step groups. If you are not attracted to 12 Step groups, you may consider Smart Recovery groups. If you should consult with a therapist, you may want to consider one who is certified in sexual addiction, a speciality. The website to go to is: http://www.sexhelp.com/

Finally, if you are concerned whether you could be sexually addicted, you may want to take a sexual addiction screening test for assessment purposes. Go to http://www.sexhelp.com/am-i-a-sex-addict

I hope this information is helpful and could offer more indepth understanding of the problem, identification, and treatment of sexual addiction, which includes addiction to pornography. If I can help you in any other way, please contact me.

All the best,

John O'Neal, Ed.S., LPC

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Page last updated Nov 15, 2011

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