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Levels of Addiction

People often send me questions about pornography addiction.  Here I present one such question along with my answer.


     I'm having a hard time understanding the term 'addiction.' I do struggle with porn but don't feel that I am addicted. Are there different levels of addiction? If so, what are they? How do they differ? Thanks. 
    In order to talk about sexual addiction, we first need to define it.  Dr. Mark Laaser has defined sexual addiction as "Any persistent and escalating pattern of sexual behavior.  It is compulsive in nature, and is used to avoid or change feelings despite destructive consequences to self and others."  There are several types of addicts.  There's the daily user who views it every day, the frequent user who views it two or three times a week, and the binger who may go several days or weeks without viewing it and then spend several hours viewing it.  
    Dr. Kevin Skinner has divided pornography use into seven levels, which includes pornography addiction:
Level 1:  A person who has have very limited access to pornography throughout his life and has not been affected by it.
Level 2: A person who has had more exposure to pornography, yet is not addicted and does not find it compulsive.  There may be some curiosity about it.
Level 3: Although not addicted, there is a growing interest in pornography.  The person may view it once a month and have occasional erotic fantasies.
Level 4:  Pornography use has increased and is beginning to impact one or more areas of a person's life, such as work, family, school or relationships.   He may find himself fantasizing more and fighting off the urges to view pornography.  He may also experience withdrawal symptoms.  At this level a person is becoming addicted to pornography.
Level 5:  Pornography use is affecting a person's daily life.  He is now addicted to it.  He thinks about it regularly and may view it 3 - 5 days a week.  It is affecting work, school, family and other relationships.  Without it there are definite withdrawal symptoms.  He may feel his life beginning to spin out of control.
Level 6:  Pornography dominates the addict's life.  He uses it almost daily and can even go on binges that last several hours.  He may begin to act out sexually by going to strip clubs, prostitutes, affairs or anonymous sex.  He may have to lie to loved ones to cover his sexual behaviors.  His life is totally out of control.
Level 7:  The pursuit of pornography has consumed the addict's live.  He can't go a day without viewing it.  He may even need several hits a day.  He is also acting out sexually with others.  The addiction has had disasterous effects on his personal life.  Many men at this stage have lost their wives, families, careers, friends, etc.  He may want to quit, but feels it's hopeless.  He is living in despair.
    Accurately evaluating the severity of one's pornography use requires the skill of a trained therapist.  Anyone who believes they are at level 3 or above in their pornography use should seek professional help immediately.
Please feel free to email your questions to me for this bimonthly fact sheet!