Internet pornography - the crack cocain of the 21st century?
There is a secret world of shame and guilt. An addiction which appears to be sweeping not just the UK but the world, is that of internet porn addiction.
In a recent testimony to the US senate, witnesses described internet porn as the new crack cocaine. In fact many observers would suggest that it is a worse addiction because with drug treatments, you can get the drug (cocaine) out of your system to reduce cravings, not so with pornography and sexual images which are hard wired into us. Indeed the fire off some of the most pleasurable chemicals known into your system to reward you.
While pornography and its use can have a use in healthy relationships, when boundaries are crossed and one or other partner begins to feel uncomfortable about the nature of the material, the frequency it is being used or perhaps the changes that they see in their partner it is similar to the differences between social drinking and alcoholism.
Often it is seen as a male only problem, but while men make up the majority (about 80%) the remainder (woman) can often find it difficult to access help because of the social stigma and the nature of self-help groups. Men tend to prefer pictures and videos with women showing a preference for using chat rooms.
The problems often start as people indulge in out of control behaviours, some of which have severe consequences for the addict their partner and the wider family. The addict, as with other addictions, needs progressively more and more fantasy images to sustain the hit. Yet they are unable to stop the behaviour despite the consequences. The road to sobriety is not an easy one, but with help it can work.
As with most addictions the first step is to accept you have a problem and one that you cannot control. Many addicts get help from support groups like Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) others prefer the support of a counsellor. Within your support framework, the work concentrates on identifying and removing behaviours that are risky in terms or relapse. In addition, other areas of your life should be explored to help you recover, especially where the addiction has caused problems within your relationships and your life.
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About Graeme Orr
I am an Accredited Member of BACP offering counselling for both individuals and couples on the Southside of Glasgow.
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