Steps to combat pornography addiction
Porn addiction. Not lightly talked about nor well-known, the condition has grown in the last decade. In a study conducted by Cambridge University scholars, research shows that it has strongly affected over half of relationships, with one partner in each relationship suffering from porn addiction.
Porn addiction is one of the more dangerous addictions because of how easily accessible it is in today’s tech-savvy world, Dr. Freddy Tung, a staff psychologist and counselor at Olivet, said. Tung, who has been at Olivet for three years, has experience in counseling students with problems like porn addiction.
Nathaniel Sahyouni is also a counselor at Olivet, and is currently writing his dissertation on how pornography affects Christian marriages. As far as Christian relationships go, Nathaniel said research seems to indicate that if one of the partners is looking at porn, it reduces feelings of commitment.
Outside of a Christian environment, viewing porn isn’t typically considered a problem. It all depends on how one defines it: as infidelity or a societal normality, according to Sahyouni. In the Christian world, however, small amounts of porn use can cause many relationship problems.
That is why Olivet has taken steps to combat this. Through the Olivet’s Counseling Center, male resident assistants (RAs) are trained to handle situations involving porn use during their training at the beginning of the year. Conversely, female RAs are not trained as much for those scenarios.
During RA training, the RA’s split up into male only and female only groups for specific instructions and training. Male RAs are shown a video on how to deal with students having porn addiction problems while female RA’s focus on other matters, such as eating disorders, pregnancy, and self-harm.
The reason, said Residential Director of McClain Amanda Hogan, is that it is “predominantly a male issue, although for women in particular it could be an isolating stigma.” In addition, it is “hard to cover everything in RA training, so you have to cover what you will deal with the most,” and counseling and health services are provided for additional help.
As with all addictions, viewing pornography is hard to stop once you start. It’s important to create as many barriers as possible, Tung said, though that won’t necessarily dissuade everyone.
Outside of counseling, it’s important to have an accountability partner, such as an RA or a friend: someone who can keep you accountable or give you a daily reminder to fight the urge. In addition, there is the Counseling Center with qualified staff and free sessions.
The Counseling Center also used to have a Men of Integrity group that would meet occasionally. It was for male students and discussed a variety of things, including porn addiction. However, student interest in the group dropped and it has not met in the last two years.
Warning Signs of Porn Addiction:
You should never accuse someone of having a porn addiction, but there are a couple of warning signs of porn addiction that you can keep an eye out for.
If the person starts isolating themselves more and spending a lot of time on their device, those behaviors combined could be an indicator of porn addiction, although not an obvious one.
Hogan said that another warning sign could be when an RA walks in, the student quickly shuts their computer.
Generally, those who suffer from porn addiction perceive a sense of less control, Sahyouni said.
Being diagnosed as a porn addict is harder than the general populace would assume, Sahyouni said. The amount of time a person has to be watching porn for it to be considered an addiction has to be enough to be disrupting daily life. Some studies suggest about eight or nine hours a week. Although, numbers are generally meaningless in determining whether or not someone is a porn addict, Sahyouni said.
On secular campuses, 90 percent of students have watched porn in the last month. At Olivet, people are more actively trying not to, though it is still happening, even with the filters Olivet puts in place.
While researching, Nathaniel said that the average age of first exposure for boys is 11 and declining. The average age for women is 13. The percentage of women who watch porn has grown in the past few decades. Studies have reported varying percentages from 70 percent to 30 percent of women who watch porn, depending on how the researchers defined porn, such as watching it versus reading erotic novels.
Porn addiction worsens when it is kept secret. Porn addicts can help themselves by not being embarrassed and talking about their addiction with someone they trust.
—Claire Schmidt, staff writer