Up until very recently the prevalence of sex and porn addiction, especially in the UK has been unknown. And one of the biggest obstacles to undertaking research was societies’ ambivalence about accepting it as a real problem.
Is porn addiction a real problem?
Whether or not sex addiction and porn addiction are ‘real’ is a question that’s been going round and round for many years and it continues to be a topic of both professional and societal debate. And whilst we know an increasing number of people are struggling with out of control sexual behaviours, primarily their porn use, we still haven’t made our mind up what to call it.
Most people use the language of ‘addiction’ to describe their problem because that is how it feels. When you continue to do something you no longer enjoy and it’s causes significant problems in your life, but in spite of that, you can’t stop or reliably stay stopped, the common term is addiction. But for a medical diagnosis of addiction, you have to also experience physiological dependence which is most often identified by withdrawal and/or tolerance. What that means is that if someone is not able to get their drug of choice, be that a substance or a behaviour, they struggle with physical withdrawal symptoms. And if they don’t increase their behaviour, the buzz they used to enjoy wears off. Emerging research is showing that both withdrawal and tolerance do happen with porn addiction, but it’s still early days. In the meantime, the term CSBD (Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Disorder) is the ‘accurate’ label. But as we explored in an earlier blog, meeting the criteria for CSBD or porn addiction requires more than simply thinking it’s wrong.
How common is sex addiction?
So how common is CSBD? How big a problem is it? It wasn’t until CSBD was formally accepted as a diagnoses by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that we could begin to research the prevalence and now, almost 5 years on, the largest ever piece of research of its kind has been completed.
The International Sex Survey took place across 42 countries, 5 continents and involved over 80,000 participants. It was the first piece of research that included non-WEIRD (western, educated industrialised, rich and democratic) countries as well as gender, sexual and relationship diverse populations. And critically for us, it was the first study to produce figures for the UK.
The research revealed that 4.84% of the world population is at high risk of compulsive sexual behaviour and that figure was just factionally lower in the UK at 4.69%. That’s just slightly less than a staggering 1 in 20 people. The results that were published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, also found that only 14% of individuals in the high-risk CSBD group had ever sought treatment. Some of the reasons given included; too embarrassed to seek treatment (18.5%) not knowing where to go for help (8%) and unable to afford help (6.5%).
Am I addicted to porn?
The other fantastic thing about the International Sex Survey was that it further demonstrated the validity of the CSBD-19 evaluation tool. This is the same self-assessment tool we use on our ‘Am I A Sex Addict?’ questionnaire, so if you want to find out your score, why not head over and complete the anonymous and confidential questionnaire now.
Help for porn addiction and sex addiction
While sex addiction or porn addiction, or CSBD or whatever you want to call it, continues to be debated, clearly there is a significant problem and many barriers to seeking help. Reaching out for a problem like this isn’t easy – it can be embarrassing, but I promise you, the first step is the hardest. At the Laurel Centre we understand how much courage it takes make that first step and the first thing we’ll do is help you to become comfortable talking about your situation. And if you’re worried about finance, getting help doesn’t have to be expensive. PivotalRecovery is the online self-help programme that went live earlier this year and costs just £75, or 3 x £30 if you want to pay in instalments. Spreading the cost is the easiest way of making therapy affordable and at the Laurel Centre you can choose to pay for all of our workshops and recovery courses, whether online or face to face, in instalments.
If you want to find out more about our services and the payment options, the best thing to do is to invest in one of our ‘Talk to a Therapist’ sessions. A one-off fee of £65 will give you the chance to talk to one of our Clinical Associates and work out the best next step to take.