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Signs of Pornography Addiction

QuestionI get regular inquiries from pastors, counselors, spouses, and parents about pornography use and addiction. Often I am asked:  “What are the signs of pornography addiction?”

Though hotly debated, the scientific evidence is increasing that shows pornography addiction is a real addiction…and problem.  The physiological changes in the brains of those who consume large amounts of pornography are being found to mirror those founds in drug addicts and alcoholics, especially in the part of the brain called The Reward Center.

As with tobacco in the 1950’s and 1960’s, today science is revealing a truth the public does not want to admit:

Pornography harms those who use it

Here is a list of signs that indicate that a person may have an addiction or compulsion involving pornography, most especially online pornography.  It is a fusion of my experience in ministry and a number of lists on the Internet.  It is in no particular order:

  • The person becomes anxious/irritable when someone interrupts them while they are on a computer or other Internet/media device.
  • Windows on the computer are quickly changed or minimized, as if wanting to hide what they are looking at.  Monitors may be tilted to make it harder to see, laptops may be close, and tablets/phones may be hidden or placed face down.
  • The person spend large amounts of time with their phones or tablets in their rooms, alone, and are anxious/angry when they are not allowed to take devices into their rooms.
  • The person, child or adult, is very secretive and protective of their devices and seems to always want to clear or secure something before sharing it or handing it over.
  • The person does not want to share passwords, etc., or give access to their online accounts.
  • The person is highly interested in external storage devices, such as external hard drshutterstock_260306909ives, USB drives, or even camera cards. With USB drives & cards they keep wanting larger and larger drives. (This is to hide/store their porn collections.)
  • Your spouse becomes secretive, or isolated, no longer interested in friends and other activities.
  • Your spouse is often working late at night on the computer, etc., especially if they have a home office.
  • Your spouse is irritated when late-night work is interrupted, often unreasonably or irrationally so.
  • Your spouse becomes less interested in sex and doesn’t get turned on as easily as they used to.
  • Husbands have performance issues in the bedroom, suffering either erectile dysfunction or delayed orgasm.  They have conditioned themselves to be turned on by online porn, not a real person.
  • Your spouse becomes more critical of your appearance (they are comparing them to the folks in porn).
  • Your spouse’s sexual tastes and interests have changed, often toward kinkier or more extreme sexual behaviors.  This includes sexual interests that would conflict with past standards and beliefs, such as an interest in group sex/swinging or BDSM.  Or they may become focused on a specific sexual act or activity to the exclusion of others.
  • Sex is more aggressive, violent, and/or abusive. This may be physical or just verbal.
  • Your computer is frequently infected with viruses and malware.  Ask any tech:  Porn sites are notorious for being used to infect computers, phones, and tablets.
  • Children demand “privacy” with electronics, especially computers, TVs, and other devices in their bedrooms.
  • There are unexplained charges to debit and credit cards. These may be monthly or large one-time charges with cryptic vendors. (One supermodel’s husband had a $3,000/month porn habit!)
  • Finally, the person (spouse or child) is frequently evasive, secretive, or caught lying about online activities, etc.

These aren’t all of the indicators, but some of the most common.  Also, the presence of a couple of these does not mean there is an addiction: There could be other causes.  So, there may be cause for concern but not alarm. For instance, working late at night a lot could be a spouse with a big project, upcoming deadline, or a possible promotion on the line.  Or, a spouse may not want to share a logon because they just ordered your Valentine’s Day surprise!  It is important to always balance your “what ifs”.

Praying Montage 1But, what if the signs are there?  What should you do?

First off: PRAY. This is a spiritual battle as much as it is a physical and psychological battle.  You need to get God into the fight.

Next: Consult a counselor or pastor experienced in dealing with sexual addictions/compulsions.

Third: Find a trustworthy brother or sister in Christ to be your prayer partner during this time.

Follow the counselor’s or pastor’s advice on how and when to confront the individual.  If they are a child or youth, include the youth or children’s pastor, too.

Confronting a porn addict is a lot like confronting any addict: It will be a battle and it will be difficult.  The person confronted will certainly start with denial, and then add anger and other emotions.  But, they are worth it.  After all, if Christ was willing to die for them, we should be willing to help them recover.

Laptop w caution tape MediumSome spouses are tempted to put “spyware” on their computers or devices to catch their partner and have hard evidence.  DO NOT do this without consulting a family law attorney who is experienced in dealing in cases involving digital privacy in the family.  Laws vary from state-to-state, and many are still being written in the courts and legislatures around the country.  It is not safe to assume that “community property” includes digital accounts and digital privacy.  Some spouses have even been charged with felonies for their detective work!

Last but not least, if your family has a problem with pornography (and if one member does, the family does, too) then remember that God is the God of second chances, and that He can heal us through Jesus.  I strongly recommend CELEBRATE RECOVERY as part of the individual’s recovery plan.

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