Australia’s Growing Concerns Over the Effects of Porn Addiction

Pornography is a major industry across the globe, bringing in billions of dollars annually. The popular site PornHub stated that it received 33.5 billion visits last year alone. Worldwide, Australia ranks eighth for overall porn consumption, and clocks in some of the longest average viewing times.

 

Attempts by the Australian government to curb increasing porn addiction thus far seem to have been comically ineffective. While explicit content is technically restricted via an ‘age-gating’ system that prevents it from being hosted in-country, Australian porn viewers can simply access porn sites hosted elsewhere.

 

In an age of limitless internet access, what’s the solution to our ever-increasing problem porn use? Let’s take a closer look at what drives porn addiction, its effects on our relationships and what we can do to stop unhealthy porn use and start restoring genuine intimacy.

 

 

What Exactly is Porn Addiction?

 

 

Porn addiction is a type of process addiction – a behavioural pattern that functions in much the same way that drug and alcohol addiction does. While moderate porn use that doesn’t interfere with daily life or impede romantic relationships is perfectly normal, porn addiction occurs when you watch porn to such an extent that you essentially become dependent on it.

 

This happens because of your brain’s dopamine reward system: each time you view porn, the brain releases a little rush of dopamine. The resulting pleasurable sensation reinforces this behaviour and over time, you come to rely on it – so much so that if your porn use dips below your usual levels, your brain sends signals that this is not okay. Thus, a porn addiction is born.

 

Signs of porn addiction include:

 

  • Spending more and more time watching porn
  • Hiding or lying about your porn use
  • Feeling unable to stop watching porn, even though you want to
  • Loss of interest or diminished performance in real-life sex

While most porn addicts start out by viewing generally ‘vanilla’ content, it tends to become increasingly extreme – sometimes even violent – over time.

 

How Porn Can Damage Relationships

 

 

Because porn doesn’t accurately reflect sex in real life, people who get their information primarily from porn often go about it all wrong. This can result in dangerous attitudes toward sex, and can have serious consequences if it translates into poor behaviour around consent.

 

One porn addict, Steve, recounts how his addiction to hard-core porn compelled him to pressure his partners into making explicit videos – whether or not they were completely on-board: “In all three of my major relationships,” he says, “girls have felt second to (porn). Some try to be involved, I guess to connect with me more when they’re feeling neglected.” He admits that the level of consent was highly questionable. “I would always pressure girls to do things I assume they’d have never even considered… It’s hard to tell if they were genuinely into things or if they just put it on.”

 

 

Porn Inhibits Real Sexual Intimacy

 

 

Even when consensual, excessive porn use can go dangerously wrong. It’s not uncommon for young people who view significant amounts of porn (but have comparatively little experience with actual sex) to come away from it with inaccurate views of intimacy and a negative body image. It comes as no surprise, then, that increasing amounts of young men are struggling with erectile dysfunction as a result of porn addiction.

 

Conversely, data shows that people who don’t watch porn experience better sex and relationships. In one study of young adults, porn-free couples demonstrated better communication, higher levels of commitment and more sexual satisfaction. Porn use is also linked to lower levels of commitment and a higher likelihood of cheating, possibly because of how it distorts viewers’ perceptions of the selection of sexual partners and experiences available to them.

 

 

The Dangers of Porn Addiction

 

 

Dangerous sexual behaviour brought about by porn’s influence is becoming such a problem across Australia that school administrators are on a mission to warn their students against it. Says cyber safety expert and federal government advisor Susan McLean, the type of sex that typically results from excessive porn use “tends to be using objects. It does tend to be quite violent or being tied up, and the girls often feel very powerless to say no.”

 

Because of this, school-age girls across the country are suffering injuries from trying to re-enact what they’ve seen in pornos with their sex partners. Even when the attempt is consensual, things can get out of control. In one case, “a teen girl was hospitalised and her boyfriend prosecuted by police after their sexual exploration — believed to be inspired by porn — got out of control. Two childhoods were derailed,” reports ABC News.

 

 

Porn’s Effects on Adolescents

 

 

This trend is especially concerning, as a majority of young teens view explicit material online. And much of that content is physically aggressive or violent. Says RMIT senior lecturer Meagan Tyler, “A lot of (porn) producers would say they were pushed to do that from demand of primarily male customers.”

 

While the trend towards extreme content may simply be a case of supply and demand in the porn industry, the results felt among teens who are forming their first ideas of sex and intimacy are concerning to say the least: “Tolerating violence towards women is a negative impact of high porn use,” cautions Peter Baldwin from the Sexual Assault Support Service (SASS).

 

Educators are urging parents to talk to their kids openly about sex, consent and safe practices. One parent, who was shocked to find out her young children had accessed porn online, expresses her concern: “It is a real concern because we as parents would like to have control over when we expose our children to any form of sexual education… and pornography is not the right form of education.” In order for young people to understand and practice safe, consensual sex, they need to get their information from a higher-quality source than porn.

 

 

Overcoming Porn Addiction

 

 

Excessive pornography use is a major driver of sex addiction and interpersonal relationship issues – and with porn being so easily available online, addicts constantly find themselves confronted by triggers. The good news is that effective therapy is available to help porn addicts develop techniques for managing their porn use, cultivate a healthy relationship with online media, and restore their ability to experience true human connection.

 

The Cabin Sydney offers comprehensive porn addiction treatment programme that combines cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), 12-step fellowship and mindfulness techniques to help you heal in a safe, non-judgmental and supportive environment. All of our programming takes place in a convenient outpatient setting designed to accommodate your schedule. Contact us today to learn how we can help you attain freedom from porn addiction and live the life you want and deserve.

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