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The rise in pornography addiction in the UK

Posted by Martin Preston
on 30 Mar 2024

What’s included?

  1. Introduction
  2. How to identify a pornography addiction
  3. The consequences of pornography addiction
  4. Recovering from pornography addiction
  5. How Delamere will help

At Delamere, we have seen a dramatic spike in the number of people that are searching for terms around pornography addiction.

Having looked into this trend across the United Kingdom using Semrush data, we found that people searching for signs, symptoms, and treatments for pornography addiction have been two and a half times more searched than alcohol addiction in the past 12 months.

The rise in people consuming pornography and searching for information around this type of addiction was the topic of discussion when I was recently interviewed by the Health Editor at The Sun, Vanessa Chalmers, alongside renowned Sexual & Relationship Psychotherapist, Dr Paula Hall.

It has been well-documented that the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a growing number of people consuming pornography. People were understandably feeling anxious and lonely, and were isolated within their homes, leading to more opportunity to consume pornography.

The University of Bournemouth and the University of Roehampton commissioned a survey of 500 adults on this subject, and it found that one in five people in the UK watched more pornography in the spring of 2020. And the University of Montreal estimates that 100 million adults, which translates to roughly 3% of the global population, experience ‘problematic pornography’.

Despite the scale of this issue, there are still many barriers to recovery for people suffering from pornography addiction.

There is a growing awareness and public discourse on pornography addiction, which is an encouraging and welcomed sign. However, unlike most substance addictions such as alcohol or cocaine, pornography addiction can be much harder to spot in someone else or for someone to acknowledge themselves as it is a behavioural addiction. 

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Substance addictions are more likely to manifest themselves physically and therefore publicly, whereas behavioural addictions like pornography can more easily be suffered in silence and in isolation. The consequences of this can therefore take a long time to catch up to people.

Then there is the shame and stigma attached to this type of addiction, both personal and societal, which discourages many people from speaking up and seeking help. As Dr Hall said, pornography addiction is often driven by the release of dopamine in the brain rather than sexual desire, which is often the assumption. 

We are grateful for the opportunity to raise awareness of this type of addiction and to share how our treatments have positively benefited a former guest in their recovery from pornography addiction.

The Delamere Treatment Model is person-centred and has not been developed for one specific type of addiction, which means that we can treat a wide range of behavioural addictions, like pornography, in a more individualised way.

How to identify a pornography addiction

When evaluating pornography consumption to consider if it is becoming an issue, it requires an honest reflection of what’s happening, and the effect it is having on your life. 

For example, if you have found yourself missing deadlines or major events in your life due to this behaviour, or if your viewing habits have evoked feelings of shame, guilt or depression, then this could be considered as having a negative impact on your life. 

If you believe that you should reduce your intake of pornography, set some sensible parameters and boundaries to follow. If this becomes overwhelming and difficult to stick to, this is when you should consider reaching out to a professional for help. 

The consequences of pornography addiction

It can be difficult to reach out for professional help for addiction, particularly due to societal pressures and 

If left untreated and unresolved, pornography addiction can have detrimental impacts and can lead to other forms of addiction such as substance abuse to deal with feelings of shame.

Other consequences include: 

  • Breakdown of relationships
  • Physical pain due to excessive screen time
  • Unhealthy views about sex 
  • Difficulty with intimacy
  • Divorce
  • Suicidal feelings 

Another consequence of pornography addiction is that it can lead to consumption of more extreme or graphic content as tolerance increases. This can also increase the change of spending money on services such as webcams and chat sites, which could put further strain on relationships. 

Recovering from pornography addiction

Pornography addiction can be extremely isolating, and those who are affected may feel as though there is no one to speak to about their feelings. This is where support groups can be crucial, to encourage a feeling of community and support between people who have experienced the same difficulties. These groups will help to remove the feelings of shame that can come with pornography addiction, and make the journey to recovery feel less lonely.

Another option is to outreach to a professional in order to receive help setting boundaries and breaking the cycle of addiction.

One of the difficulties with this behavioural addiction is that you cannot abstain from sexual experiences in the same way that substances can be removed from one’s life. Therefore, recovery depends upon the tools that you have to deal with situational triggers.

How Delamere will help

It is important to look for the root of the issue, instead of just focusing on the symptoms and immediate consequences. Delamere will use a combination of one-to-one, group and creative therapy to help discover the cause of the addiction, and implement a range of healthy coping mechanisms that will help you to integrate back into day to day life.

Still of a group therapy session at Delamere outside in the woods

The Stop, Start, Grow model encourages healing in a non-judgemental and dignified way that will result in important transformations with the tools needed to continue life after addiction. 

Need help?
Call us confidentially at any time to speak to a member of our team.

Call us now: 0330 111 2015
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About the author: Martin Preston

Martin created Delamere in order to provide exemplary care in first class facilities. Find out more about Martin on our team page.

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