Can Pornography Really be an Addiction?

During the past six years I have been gathering data from individuals looking for help because of their involvement in pornography. More than 4000 men and women have taken an online survey during this time. What signs have I identified that might indicate a pornography addiction?


www-drkevinskinner-com-1Let me begin by saying that the word addiction is often misused. In fact, some people argue that we shouldn’t use the word addiction with pornography. I actually agree that the word addiction is overused, but I disagree with those who argue that pornography is not addictive.  After reviewing the literature, listening to my clients, and looking at my research data, I am convinced that we can and should use the word addiction with pornography. Consider the following answers to questions available from the Assessing Pornography Addiction Survey:


(Please note: I have bolded the key findings from each question listed below).

Concept: Feeling Out of Control

I cannot seem to stop the fantasies that run through my mind.
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid true 2168 45.7 48.4 48.4
false 2104 44.3 47.0 95.4
na 204 4.3 4.6 100.0
Total 4476 94.3 100.0
Missing System 273 5.7
Total 4749 100.0

What this means is that 45% of individuals in this self-selected survey struggle to stop their thoughts.  They can’t get pornography off their mind.

Here’s another question on feeling out of control.

I believe that I can stop looking at porn at anytime.
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid true 1869 39.4 41.8 41.8
false 2330 49.1 52.1 93.9
na 272 5.7 6.1 100.0
Total 4471 94.1 100.0
Missing System 278 5.9
Total 4749 100.0

Nearly 50% of those who took the survey felt that they couldn’t stop viewing pornography at anytime. That often creates a feeling of hopelessness. None of us want to feel that something has that much control over us and yet for many who are trapped in pornography, it is a common feeling.

How Porn Impacts Relationships and Emotions

Now let’s look at how pornography influences a person’s relationships and emotions.

I have distanced myself from a partner when I have looked at pornography.
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid true 2245 47.3 51.3 51.3
false 1738 36.6 39.7 91.0
na 392 8.3 9.0 100.0
Total 4375 92.1 100.0
Missing System 374 7.9
Total 4749 100.0

What we see is people distancing themselves from relationships. This is one of the reasons why I wrote the article Addiction and Intimacy.

I have chosen to view porn. rather than be sexually intimate with a partner (if not married, view porn rather than be with friends).
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid true 1916 40.3 43.9 43.9
false 2169 45.7 49.7 93.6
na 279 5.9 6.4 100.0
Total 4364 91.9 100.0
Missing System 385 8.1
Total 4749 100.0

One of the common traits of addictive behaviors is turning to the behavior to escape from negative emotions. Consider the statistic which indicates that many individuals are turning to pornography as an escape from their emotional pain. This is a common behavior in individuals who smoke, drink, and use drugs.

When I am feeling down, I often turn to pornography to make me feel better.
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid true 2696 56.8 63.6 63.6
false 1434 30.2 33.9 97.5
na 106 2.2 2.5 100.0
Total 4236 89.2 100.0
Missing System 513 10.8
Total 4749 100.0

The next response is one that makes my heart hurt. It is sad and difficult to hear the many stories I have heard from individuals who feel hopeless because of pornography. Pornography is a “joy killer.” It sucks the life out of life and love. It makes people feel hopeless.

My involvement with porn makes me feel hopeless
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid true 1988 41.9 46.9 46.9
false 2090 44.0 49.4 96.3
na 157 3.3 3.7 100.0
Total 4235 89.2 100.0
Missing System 514 10.8
Total 4749 100.0

I have just touched just the surface of pornography addiction signs.

If you would like to evaluate your own pornography viewing status, you can take the FREE Assessing Pornography Addiction Assessment. It offers valuable feedback and suggestions and looks at more indicators of addiction.


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