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Addiction to Internet Pornography

Addiction to Internet Pornography

by Kelli Simkus

Editor Note: Parental Guidance is strongly suggested, contains adult subject matter.

For several years John, a 35-year-old married man with two young children, has diligently spent hour after hour at the computer after his wife has gone to bed, viewing and storing porn and masturbating. More recently, John made live contact with a few women he met in chat rooms and has been making plans to meet one of them for sex during a break in his workday.

John justifies this by saying things to himself like, "it doesn't hurt anybody and besides I deserve it, look how hard I work" and "No one will ever know so what difference does it make?"

However, each time he lies to his wife and avoids being intimate with her, puts his kids to bed without spending time with them to get back to the computer, or comes into work exhausted from his late night masturbation sessions, he feels a little bit worse about himself and becomes more detached and emotionally distant from everyone around him. (Weiss, 1997-2008)

Every 39 seconds a new pornographic video is being made. There are 1.5 billion pornographic Internet downloads a month. Between the years 2005 and 2006 the pornography business increased by an almost a billion dollars.

Addiction is a growing problem

Addiction to Internet pornography is a growing problem in the United States, because of the easy accessibility to the Internet and the considerable amount of websites available. Each year the porn industry grows by millions of dollars.

The definition of addiction is the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit forming. (Random House, Inc. 2006) When it comes to internet addiction, addiction is the urge or pull to seek distraction which becomes stronger over time. Sexual addicts have the desire and need to keep coming back for pornographic images often ignoring loved ones and family to view these images.

Internet pornography has been called the, "gateway drug to sexual addiction," by Dr. Victor Cline, a psychologist at the University of Utah. Dr. Cline states there are four stages of addiction: addiction, escalation, desensitization and acting out. This is the progression of the addiction. According to Dr. Keith Abrams, addiction is downloading pornography, or looking at pornography in the work setting, or spending three to four hours a night looking at it and neglecting relationships.

Pornography addiction can become unhealthy if guilt or shame is associated with it, or if the behavior puts the user or others at risk. Some may say that pornography is not an addiction but compulsive behavior. One person that says this is Louanne Cole Weston, Ph.D.

The rate that pornography increases on the Internet is amazing. Internet pornography statistics become outdated very quickly, especially in the Internet environment where numbers change daily. Porn revenue is larger than all combined revenues of all football, baseball, and basketball franchises. Every 39 seconds a new pornographic video is being made. There are 1.5 billion pornographic Internet downloads a month. Between the years 2005 and 2006 the pornography business increased by an almost a billion dollars. There is big business in pornography and many people who rally against pornography perceive that the actors and actress that create these images are preying on the emotional affected.

People may say that this addiction does not affect me, but then who does it affect? Is sex getting in the way of your life, your work, or your relationships? Are you having sex at inappropriate times or places, or with inappropriate people? (G. Collins, 2003) Addiction to Internet pornography affects all genders, all income brackets, and all sexual orientations, from straight men and women to homosexual men and women. Internet addiction does not care what race the addicts are either. Viewing pornography on the Internet can happen at home or at work. Many people who are addicted to Internet pornography have had dysfunctional families and have suffered from emotional, physical and/or sexual trauma. (G. Collins, 2003)

Equal Opportunity Addiction

Men are viewed as having this addiction, but women are affected as well. 40 million adults in the United States regularly visit pornography sites. Of those 40 million only 10% (four million adults) admitted to having a sexual addiction to pornography. Of the four million adults who admitted to having a sexual addiction problem, 680,000 are women. 17% of the 680,000 women say they struggle with pornography addiction. This is the same number of women who are addicted to alcohol or drugs.

According to Dr. Robert Weiss, founder and executive director of The Sexual Recovery Institute, sexual addicts use sex as a means to cope, to handle boredom, anxiety, and other powerful feelings or as a way to feel important, wanted or powerful. These negative feelings of shame and guilt end up sabotaging relationships, careers and self-esteem. While sexual addiction is not defined by any particular sexual act, sexual addiction is defined by the feelings and activities surrounding sex.

Those who stay up long hours of the night or all night viewing pornography on the Internet often masturbating feel shame, which reinforces the negative feelings that one feels. Another sentiment that an addict expresses is the need for secrecy. The addict perceives the fact that he or she must keep this secret, so they do not sabotage his or her relationship or career. On the high end of addiction one can get abusive in his or her relationships to justify the pornography he or she is viewing.

These emotions and feelings affect the addict's family. Family members start to feel neglected. The addict spends less time with their children and spouse because they feel shame and are trying to cover their addiction, this can put a strain on a marriage. The addict spends less time with spouse and more time trying to view pornography or interact in strange relationships outside of marriage. Another strain on a marriage would be the financial end. Some addicts get into trouble in the form of maxed-out credit card and lost hours of sleep. This loss of hours affects ones job, which could lead to loss of income. (Weston, 2007)

How can a person become addicted to Internet pornography so easily? The Internet is so accessible these days and it is available around the clock. Addiction to Internet pornography will become more common as more people have access to the Internet. 12% of total websites available on the Internet are pornographic. There are thousands of sites that do not require money and have easy access.

For instance, if I apply to, which is a website that allows people to meet others individuals or couples for adult fun, a person could include meeting for sex or cyber-sex. This is only one of many websites that are free to the public. A person could pay money, and upgrade his or her account to view more extensive pictures, but most of the pictures available for free are often nude or of sexual acts. After doing some research I have found that just by going to Google, an internet search engine, selecting images and typing in pornographic I can view half a million different pornographic images. This is how easy it is to access pornography on the Internet.

Treatment Options

After doing research I am finding that many of the services offered are to women to help men avoid or conquer this sexual addiction. There are many women services to help them respond to their husband's addictions. Donna Rice, an anti-pornography activist said, "Every woman can have a hand in pornography's downfall by doing the simplest of things: educating herself, her family, and others about its dangers." While this may be true, this information is important to all who are affected by addiction to Internet pornography. Education of a topic gives a person the knowledge and the know-how on what to do with the information they received.

There is treatment out there for addicts of Internet pornography. Most of these addicts are grouped with sex addicts. There is a very fine line between the two. How can a person be treated for such an addiction? Just like drug or alcohol abuse one must realize that he or she has an addiction. Sexual addiction or addiction to Internet pornography is treated as a physiological addiction. There has to be an underlying reason for ones sex addiction. But most of all the spouse or partner must be involved in the treatment. The most important predictor of relapse after treatment of sexual addiction is failure of the spouse or partner to be involved in the treatment program. (J. Schneider, 1991)

Addiction to Internet Pornography

The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (SASH) is there to help. This website can help those addicts or families of addicts find help. Even though SASH does not endorse nor support any individual therapist, organization, institution or type of therapy, it does recommend places like The Sexual Recovery Institute (SRI). SRI offers 5- to 10- day workshops, individual, group, and couple treatment. They offer a 12-step program like in alcohol or drug treatments. This 12-step program has been adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous and has been varied according to what addiction is being treated. Another facility specializing in sexual addictions is the KeyStone Center. This is a 114-bed facility that also has a 12-step program for addicts.

Even though this addiction may not seem as real as alcohol or drug addiction, addicts feel alone in this addiction to Internet pornography. There are millions of Americans out there that suffer from addiction to Internet pornography. There is help. You no longer have to suffer alone.

"It's embarrassing for a grown man like me to have to tell you that I was in love with pictures. In fact, I was in love with Nina Hartley. For 10 years or so, I had almost every tape I could get, watching her be sexual with myself, and I lost two wives because I couldn't throw those away. I wasn't instructed enough to know that I could watch that and have a relationship with a woman. The hardest thing I ever had to do, the last piece of pictures with somebody else — the last picture was of me and Nina taken at the Mitchell Bros. adult theater, in the lobby — she didn't have any clothes on — I wish I didn't, but they made me keep them on at the time — that was the last picture I put in the fireplace, and I cried for two days." (Kernes, 2008)

Related Articles and Links

Addicted to Internet Porn? Get Help!

Additional Addiction Help!


  1. (2008) Definition. Retrieved February 20, 2008
  2. Downs, Martin F. (April, 2007) Is Pornography Addictive? Retrieved February 29, 2008
  3. Hauk, Stephen (1999). Porn Addiction. CBS42. Retrieved January 30, 2009
  4. Kernes, Mark (2008) FSC Examines 'Porn Addiction in Public Forum'. Compulsion Solutions. Retrieved March 4, 2008
  5. Manning, Jill C., (2005, November 9). Testimony: Pornography's Impact on Marriage & The Family. Retrieved February 10, 2008
  6. My Kids Browser (2008) Pornography Statistics. Retrieved January 31, 2008
  7. Schneider, Jennifer P., M.D., Ph.D. (2008) Jennifer P. Schneider, M.D., Ph.D. Retrieved February 10, 2008
  8. Weiss, Robert, LCWS, CAS (1997-2008) How Do I know if I Am a Sexual Addict? Sexual Recovery Institute.

About the Author

Kelli Simkus attends the University of Phoenix where she has earned her associates degree in accounting and is working toward a bachelors degree in business management.

Term paper submitted March 16, 2008, updated June 7, 2016

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