DDN Magazine July/August 2021 - Page 6


Sex , love and porn addictions are becoming increasingly common and need more recognition and support , says Pamela Walters
Chernetskaya | Dreamstime . com


It ’ s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges for patients living with addictive behaviours . There has been widespread coverage of escalating rates of alcohol and substance misuse alongside ‘ behavioural addictions ’ such as gambling and shopping , but the lesser-reported sex and love addiction , cybersex or problematic online pornography usage has also seen an explosion in numbers globally .

Recent media reports indicate that half of UK adults watch porn . According to Ofcom ’ s 2021 Online nation document , Pornhub was accessed by 15m people in September 2020 while OnlyFans saw a 75 per cent increase in new subscribers from May 2020 . The pandemic has led to people becoming more introspective about their sexual behaviours , and for some this shift will develop into pathological addictive-type sexual behaviours . The problematic consumption model of online pornography benefits from the
‘ triple A ’ factor – anonymous , accessible and affordable .
ADDICTION / COMPULSION ? Love and porn addiction isn ’ t recognised as a mental health condition by the recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders ( DSM-5 ). Instead , sex addiction , masturbation addiction , and porn addiction are usually referred to as compulsive sexual behaviour , hyper sexuality disorder or out of control sexual behaviour . Sex addiction can also be characterised by multiple sexual partners or interaction with sex workers , while love addiction behaviours can include returning to damaging relationships or craving attention from new or multiple relationships .
Clouds House , our residential addictions rehab , has seen an increase in enquiries for sex , love and pornography treatment . A year of lockdowns has created conditions whereby people who are feeling isolated turn to sex and porn as a method of coping , just as it has for other addictions .
' Long-term recovery from sex and love addiction or porn addiction is different from substances or gambling .'
In addition , the fact that sex , sex and love , and porn addiction are becoming more recognised within society as a set of behaviours which culminate in destructive consequences has meant that men – and , slowly , more women – are starting to reach out for help .
INCREASING NUMBERS Over the past five years , Clouds House has experienced an increase in people accessing treatment for sex and love or porn addiction as their primary addiction . Historically it ’ s emerged within the context of
other addictions . Access to porn anytime , anywhere is problematic and a significant challenge – those with an addiction to pornography will access porn content in a continued quest to alter moods by searching for newer , more stimulating and sometimes violent / coercive content , and with an escalating habit their tolerance and choice of more extreme pornography increases .
This a manifestation of someone ’ s journey to dependency , and measurement of the true scale of the problem is challenging given the associated stigma . The shame surrounding this addiction is considerable , with significant impact on family and relationships as this dominant relationship with the online pornography behaviour takes increased salience and control .
Recovery from addiction to sex , sex and love , and pornography is possible and the community aspect of therapy is a vital part of treatment , examining how emotional experiences of addiction can often be similar regardless of how the addiction manifests .