Cybersex/Pornography Addiction is a specific sub-type of Internet addiction. Estimates suggest that 1 in 5 Internet addicts are engaged in some form of online sexual activity (primarily viewing cyberporn and/or engaging in cybersex). Studies show that men are more likely to view cyberporn, while women are more likely to engage in erotic chat. People who suffer from low self-esteem, a distorted body image, untreated sexual dysfunction, or a prior sexual addiction are more at risk to develop cybersex/cyberporn addictions. In particular, sex addicts often turn to the Internet as a new and safe sexual outlet to fulfill their underlying compulsive habit.
A New and Distinct Disorder
With remarkable speed, however, people who have never had a problem with sex addiction are becoming addicted to online sex. Over 60% of our clients are individuals who normally wouldn’t go to a strip club or rent an adult video but are downloading online pornography or talking with strangers in sexually explicit adult chat rooms.
Behind the anonymity of cyberspace, online users can conceal their age, marital status, gender, race, vocation, or appearance. A short brunette can say she is a tall blonde, an overweight man can say he is thin, and a married man can say he is single. Addicts use this anonymity to experiment and secretly begin to explore things online that they would never do in real life.
As users dabble in chat rooms or download pornography, often from the privacy of their home, office, or bedroom, they perceive that their Internet use is personal and untraceable and they use the anonymity of the Internet to explore hidden or repressed sexual fantasies. As their behavior escalates, the addiction grows and users begin to feel preoccupied with using the Internet for sexual purposes. They masturbate at the computer while looking at porn, they visit more explicit sex chat rooms, or they may even arrange real life meetings. Addicts go to a great extent to conceal their online behavior and often feel guilt or shame because of the secret hurt they are causing to their real life partners. If this sounds like you or someone you know, the Cybersex Addiction Test will help you determine if you are dealing with an addiction. Developed by Dr. Kimberly Young, the test outlines the common warning signs associated with the disorder.
Treating Cybersex/Cyberporn Addiction
Treating Cybersex/Cyberporn addiction requires special care, as complete abstinence from the computer isn’t always possible in today’s technological world. Addicts often need the computer for work or school making the temptation to return to online sex just a mouse click away. To help cybersex addicts understand the emotional and psychological factors leading to relapse, Dr. Young provides in-person, telephone, and online counseling for immediate, caring, and confidential advice to deal with your addiction. She utilizes specialized recovery techniques to help clients’ stop their pornography/cybersex use and works with clients to address the underlying issues sustaining the addiction. She also counsels couples and partners of cybersex addicts hurt by the addiction in their relationship. Her book, Tangled in the Web: Understanding Cybersex from Fantasy to Addiction offers specialized recovery strategies for online sex addicts and their partners, and for immediate help, you can download Dr. Young’s new e-booklet, Getting Web Sober: Help for Cybersex Addicts and Their Families which provides a step-by-step recovery system for online sex addicts and helps their family members cope with an addicted loved one.
Center for Internet Addiction Recovery