When I was struggling with pornography, I was downright scared to be termed an "addict." There was so much stigma and shame associated with the word, I did everything to avoid it. Sadly, my fear (and pride) held me back from getting the help that I desparately needed. If I was willing to call a spade a spade earlier, I could've got clean earlier too.
So how do you know if you're addicted? Well this is actually a very complicated question. Most research focuses on substance addiction – such as alcohol or drugs. Porn would be considered a process addiction, which is the same category as gambling. However, the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders, the handbook for diagnosing psychiatric conditions, does not acknolwedge pornography addiction. The main reason is that there is still not enough evidence to support the diagnosis. That means we have to do a bit of investigating ourselves.
To qualify as a diagnosable addiction in the DSM-V, the condition must exhibit 2 of the 4 clinical conditions. We won't go into all 4 conditions, but pornography addiction actually hits two of these criteria:
1) Cravings to partake in an activity as well as failed attempts to cut down or control the activity (impaired control)
2) Failure to complete major tasks at work, school, or home and/or have given up trying (social problems)
If you've struggled with porn, you'll know that these two elements are very much a part of the experience. However, the scientific board of the DSM believes that porn addiction fails to meet the definition of addiction in that it is not inherently associated with risk-taking and it does not involve tolerance (a need for larger amounts to get the same effect) or withdrawal (an adverse reaction when stopping). In my opinion but as fate would have it, the DSM Board favors the scientific board over my opinion ;).
What does this mean for you?
If you experience both criteria listed above – impaired control & social problems – you have a porn addiction by my standards. This is not a clinical diagnosis and should not be considered medical advice, but these are the 2 criteria that I am looking for. I know that reading that statement alone can feel like a gut punch, but I have good news for you. While the research is limited, you should know that even if you are addicted, there is plenty of reason to feel hopeful.
There are dozens of ministries and organizations out there that are helping men (and women) overcome pornography addiction with incredible success. It is not easy. It takes hard work, as I'm sure you know. But it is possible. Here at DeepClean, we see men experience growth and freedom regularly. Their progress is gradual and takes time, but with diligence and effort, their lives, families and destinies are dramatically improved.
If you are addicted to pornography, it is best that you acknowledge it so that you can methodically seek out solutions. As long as you live in denial or with some sort of confusing assessment ("I'm like kind of addicted I guess but not really like your typical addict, you know?") you are delaying your recovery. Face the man in the mirror, call a spade a spade, and get the help that you deserve.
Cheering you on,
Join our mailing list to receive the latest on addiction recovery including success stories, FAQs, clinical findings, and practical tools you can apply TODAY.