The potency and accessibility of online pornography is an intensely addictive outlet for anyone who struggles with a sense of disconnection. The Internet offers instant access to mood-altering experiences in a setting of privacy, convenience, and affordability. Sites and services are so plentiful, and the apparent need for this addictive escape so unbridled, that iPorn has been called the “crack cocaine of sex addiction.”
The Internet is open 24/7 to indulge an addict’s every fantasy, and this immediacy is hazardous because it plays into impulsivity. Online there is only a small window of think-time between impulse and action. The intensity of the images and the hypnotic quality of the experience impair judgment. For a sex addict, having Internet access is comparable to an alcoholic hanging out in a bar twenty-four hours a day, or a drug abuser living in a pharmacy.
Criteria for problematic Internet sexual behavior have been established by experts and are as follows:
- Preoccupation with sex on the Internet, such as having obsessive thoughts about the previous online activity or anticipation of the next online session
- Going online more frequently or increasing amounts of time online in order to achieve satisfaction
- Increasing the intensity or risk of online sexual experiences
- Repeated, unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop using the Internet for sexual purposes
- Feelings of restlessness, moodiness, depression, or irritability when attempting to cut down use
- Staying online longer than originally intended
- Jeopardizing or risking loss of significant relationships, job, educational or career opportunities because of Internet use
- Committing illegal acts online or incurring financial consequences for online sexual behavior
- Lying to family members, a therapist, or others to conceal the extent of Internet involvement
- Using Internet sex to escape from problems, or feelings such as hopelessness, guilt, anger, anxiety, and loneliness.