The Stages of Pornography Addiction

By Focus on the Family
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Is porn beginning to control your life? Are you addicted? You can't put it down — you keep going back for more? Perhaps you find yourself needing to see increasingly graphic pornography.

Not everyone who sees porn will become addicted to it. Some will just come away with toxic ideas about women, sex, marriage and children. That kind of damage is bad enough. And porn isn’t the only ingredient in addiction. Usually, those who become addicted have some kind of emotional opening that allows the addiction to really take root.

Some of you reading this will become addicted, like I was. The porn companies don’t mind at all if you become completely addicted to their product. It’s great for business. An addicted customer keeps coming back for more. And so they fill their porn with images that will excite you, arouse you and get the hormones flowing. You don’t have to shoot up any drug with a needle to get addicted to porn — your body will make its own drugs just by looking at the pictures. Dr. Victor Cline says that sex and pornography can be a more difficult addiction to break than cocaine.

Five Stages of Addiction

  1. Early exposure. Most guys who get addicted to porn start early. They see the stuff when they are very young, and it gets its foot in the door.
  2. Addiction. Later comes addiction. You keep coming back to porn. It becomes a regular part of your life. You’re hooked. You can’t quit.
  3. Escalation. After a while, escalation begins. You start to look for more and more graphic porn. You start using porn that would have disgusted you when you started. Now it excites you.
  4. Desensitization. Eventually, you start to become numb. Even the most graphic, degrading porn doesn’t excite you anymore. You become desperate to feel the same thrill again but can’t find it.
  5. Acting out sexually. At this point, many men make a dangerous jump and start acting out sexually. They move from the paper and plastic images of porn to the real world.

When I personally got to the “acting out phase,” I started fantasizing about what it would be like to actually rape a woman. I finally tried it one night when I saw a woman who “fit” the scenario that porn had taught me to look for. I was lucky. Very lucky. I didn’t go through with it. After being reported, arrested and spending some time in jail, I finally was able to begin the process of weeding out the lies in my life that porn had put there.

Other men aren’t so lucky. I realize now that with just a little push, I could have gone over the edge. I could have raped that woman and then killed her to cover my tracks. That’s how Ted Bundy got started. When the porn he was addicted to wasn’t enough anymore, he tried the real thing — rape, and then murder. When he succeeded, he did it again. And again. Pornography addiction is very serious.

Are You Addicted?

Some of you reading this may have already developed an addiction to porn. If you see any of the patterns I’ve described above in your life, you need to put the brakes on right now. Is porn beginning to control your life? You can’t put it down — you keep going back for more? Perhaps you find yourself needing to see increasingly graphic pornography. You’re masturbating more and more often. You’re starting to take risks or act out physically for sexual thrills.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

Excerpted from the Dare to Dig Deeper booklet “Toxic Porn”, by Gene McConnell and Keith Campbell. Copyright ©1996 Focus on the Family.

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