That’s the question people often have in mind when it comes to their porn use.
“Maybe I can regulate myself and not get far enough to experience any of these negative brain effects.”
People intuitively place porn addiction as binary; you either have an addiction, or you’re totally fine. As long as you don’t “cross the line” then you’ll be fine.
Addiction-related brain changes actually occur on a spectrum. You can experience them at any time at various levels of intensity.
Addiction can refer to screaming mania, life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, or a blatant disregard for consequences.
On the other end of the spectrum is called a compulsive behavior. You feel a pull to do something, but you find you can resist or at least delay your urge until a more appropriate time.
Across this entire spectrum, there are specific qualities needed in order for something to be demonstrated as being addictive (This is for any addiction, but in this context adjusted for pornorgraphy).
There is a clear, predictable pattern to your use. If these specific circumstances were to happen, you know that you’ll most likely end up acting out. When you’re home alone. When you’re stressed. When you’re triggered. On Friday evenings after the week’s over. Or even only during school breaks.
Do you have a recognizable pattern?
You acclimate and need more and more to stimulate you. In the beginning, bikini photos are enough to excite a young boy, but then he needs to see more nudity. Photos become not enough and you need video. Then you need more intense video. Then you need it for longer.
Have you experienced this at some level?
You become reliant on porn. It’s you’re go-to to pick yourself up when you’re feeling down. It becomes the only way you know how to handle stress, or the only way you know how to make you feel good about yourself (at least temporarily).
Have you experienced dependency at some level?
Porn begins to interrupt your normal life. You know you have to study for your test tomorrow but you can’t help yourself. You know you’ll get fired if they catch you looking at porn at work but you can’t help yourself. You’re visiting your fiancee but still you can’t help but sneak in a few minutes.
Have you experienced the unmanageable nature of an addiction?