PORN ADDICTION DESTROYING LIVES-SOME FIGHTING BACK

‘Sex isn’t difficult any more’: the men who are quitting watching porn

The Guardian

Addiction to pornography has been blamed for erectile dysfunction, relationship issues and depression, yet problematic use is rising. Now therapists and tech companies are offering new solutionsThomas discovered pornography in the traditional way: at school. He remembers classmates talking about it in the playground and showing each other videos on their phones during sleepovers. He was 13 and thought it was “a laugh”. Then he began watching pornography alone on his tablet in his room. What started as occasional use, at the beginning of puberty, became a daily habit. Thomas (not his real name), who is in his early 20s, lived with one of his parents, who he says did not care what he was doing online. “At the time, it felt normal, but looking back I can see that it got out of hand quite quickly,” Thomas says. When he got a girlfriend at 16, he started having sex and watched less pornography. But the addiction was just waiting to resurface, he says. During the first UK lockdown last year, Thomas lost his job. He was living with older relatives and trying to protect them from Covid while becoming increasingly stressed about money. He was spending hours online, where the pornography streaming sites had found a rising demand from people stuck inside. “It became daily again,” he says of his habit. “And I think about 80% of my mental downfall was because of porn.” Thomas began seeking out more explicit content and became withdrawn and miserable. His self-esteem plummeted as shame consumed him. Did he ever feel suicidal? “Yeah, I did get to that point,” he says. “That’s when I went to see my GP. I thought: I can’t sit in my room and do nothing; I need help.” The shame stopped Thomas from mentioning pornography to the doctor, who prescribed antidepressants. They improved his mood, but not his habit, which was starting to breed mistrust in his relationship and affect his sex life. He began to think other men must be trapped in the same cycle. “So I just Googled something like ‘How to stop watching porn’ and there was so much,” he says.

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