What Is Sex/Porn Addiction?

Sex and porn addiction are known by many names, including sexual compulsivity, compulsive sexual behavior, hypersexual behavior, and out-of-control sexual behavior, to name but a few. Chronic infidelity can fall into the realm of sex/porn addiction, though it doesn’t always. Love addiction, also known as romance addiction and relationship addiction, is closely related to sex/porn addiction, except love addicts are pursuing the neurochemical rush of romance rather than the rush of sexual intensity. Sex/porn addiction and love addiction often travel hand-in-hand.

Before discussing sex and porn addiction in depth, it may be helpful to briefly define addictions in general. Stated simply, the primary criteria used to diagnose addictions of all types are as follows:

  1. Preoccupation to the point of obsession with the substance or behavior of choice
  2. Loss of control over use of the substance or behavior, typically evidenced by failed attempts to quit or cut back
  3. Directly related negative consequences – relationship trouble, issues at work or in school, declining physical health, depression, anxiety, diminished self-esteem, isolation, financial woes, loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities, legal trouble, etc.

The International Classification of Diseases, the psychiatric diagnostic manual published by the World Health Organization, officially refers to sex and porn addiction/compulsivity as Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder (CSBD). The CSBD diagnosis reads:

Compulsive sexual behavior disorder is characterized by a persistent pattern of failure to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses or urges resulting in repetitive sexual behavior. Symptoms may include repetitive sexual activities becoming a central focus of the person’s life to the point of neglecting health and personal care or other interests, activities and responsibilities; numerous unsuccessful efforts to significantly reduce repetitive sexual behavior; and continued repetitive sexual behavior despite adverse consequences or deriving little or no satisfaction from it. The pattern of failure to control intense, sexual impulses or urges and resulting repetitive sexual behavior is manifested over an extended period of time (e.g., 6 months or more), and causes marked distress or significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. Distress that is entirely related to moral judgments and disapproval about sexual impulses, urges, or behaviors is not sufficient to meet this requirement.

So, as with other addictions, compulsive sexual behavior disorder boils down to three criteria: obsession, loss of control, and negative consequences.

More generally, sex and porn addiction are a dysfunctional preoccupation with sexual urges, fantasies, and behaviors, usually involving the obsessive pursuit of non-intimate sexuality. This occurs through porn use, casual/anonymous sexual encounters, prostitution, strip clubs, etc. This pattern of urges, fantasies, and behaviors continues despite both negative life consequences and attempts to quit.

In short, sex/porn addiction, however we choose to label it, is an ongoing, out-of-control pattern of compulsive sexual fantasies and behaviors that causes problems in the addict’s life.

If the above description sounds like you or someone you love, there may be an issue with sex/porn addiction. If so, Seeking Integrity offers unique programs that can help. To learn more, visit our Treatment Programs page, contact us via email, or call us at 747.234.4325.