Porn Users: Casual vs. At-Risk vs. Addicted/Compulsive

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Not every person who uses pornography struggles. For an analogy, consider alcohol. Almost every person, by the time they reach adulthood, has experimented with alcohol. And the vast majority of those individuals do so without incident. They don’t become alcoholic, they don’t make terrible decisions because they drink too much, they don’t ruin their lives and the lives of people around them because of alcohol. However, some of the people who try alcohol do develop problems related to its use.

Pornography is the same in this regard. Not every porn user struggles, but some do. There are multiple reasons for this – a topic that will be explored in a future posting to this site. For now, we simply want to state that there are three basic categories of porn users. If you are reading this article, it’s likely that you or someone you love is using porn and you’re worried about this use, and you want to know if intervention is needed. Hopefully, information below, delineating three categories of porn users, will help you understand the situation you face.

  1. Casual Users: These are individuals who find pornography fun and sexually stimulating but ultimately not that important. They use porn occasionally but not compulsively. Often, their use is driven by curiosity and novelty. For example, they might use porn to learn about sex during adolescence. Casual porn users find porn enjoyable but ultimately not as satisfying as real-world sex and romance. As such, their interest in porn is not sustained.
  2. At-Risk Users: These are individuals who go through periods of intense engagement with pornography, perhaps, at times, using it as a distraction from emotional discomfort and other life issues. However, their porn use does not reach the point where it creates problems for them or their loved ones. In fact, they will stop using porn if they start to experience (or even see the possibility of experiencing) porn-related problems.
  3. Addicted/Compulsive Users: These are individuals who use porn compulsively or addictively, regardless of potential or actual consequences. Often, they use porn as a way to emotionally numb out. Typically, they find themselves leading a double-life, keeping their porn use separated from the rest of their life – maintaining secrets, telling lies, and justifying their behavior to make it OK in their own mind. Usually, they lack empathy for those who are negatively impacted by their isolationist porn use. Sometimes they even blame their ‘need’ to use porn on the attitudes and actions of these other people.

If you or someone you know is struggling with the use of pornography, free help can be found via SexandRelationshipHealing.com, and professional help available at Seeking Integrity.