Cybersex: The Crack Cocaine of Sex Addiction
This concept isn't new, but I think it's important enough to bear repeating: cybersex (the use of the Internet for sexual purposes) truly is the "crack cocaine" of compulsive sexual expression, commonly referred to as "sex addiction". Many people who otherwise would never have gotten caught up in the downward spiral of uncontrolled sexual obsession have found to their shame and dismay that their use of the Internet fueled an ever-escalating reliance on sexually intense fantasy and imagery.
There are several reasons for the growing phenomenon of sexually compulsive Internet use. It's now been over a decade since the Internet was first described as providing a "Triple-A engine" of sex addiction, since it combines accessibility, affordability and anonymity. Many people have found out too late that the presence of easy, cheap and anonymous access to pornography and explicit sexual chat instantly removes many of the major inhibitors of sexual excess that were in place before the online era.
The easy availability of hard-core pornography is so especially desensitizing that people who get caught up in the thrill of illicit sexual stimulation can easily spiral downward. In addition, the virtually endless variations of pornographic imagery make it inevitable that any person's unique sexual interests can be intensely and anonymously stimulated without requiring anything of that person in return (except money). This creates a powerful "false intimacy" that can distort and erode the "messy" give-and-take of mutual intimacy that is a requirement of true emotionally-centered sexual relationships.
Neurologically, cybersex behavior such as repeated viewing of online pornography triggers a tidal-wave release of powerful chemicals in the central nervous system. The highly reinforcing dependency that can emerge as a result of this neurochemical flooding is very similar to what occurs with chronic alcohol and drug abuse.
The genie of the triple-A engine is out of the bottle and will never go back in. People who find themselves trapped in the vortex of this problem often find that they need a lot of support from various sources such as therapy, 12-step groups and other forms of accountability and healing. These and other resources are often crucial to reduce shame and isolation, break through denial, begin to teach new coping skills and start to heal damaged relationships.
I'm also a big fan of internet filters to make pornographic access more difficult. For such filters to be effective it's imperative that they be password protected by another person, often a partner or a 12-step "program buddy". There are many such filters on the market, as well as a number of web sites to help choose the best one for any particular circumstance. I've known several mid- and top-level executives who have simply and directly asked their employer install a filter on their work computers to block inappropriate access to objectionable sites with no questions asked, and I've never known this decision to come back to haunt them since almost every company is well aware of the lost hours and other work-related problems caused by Internet pornography.
As I written before, I don't have any more of a moral objection to legal pornography than I do to alcohol. Some people don't ever develop a problem with the casual use of either form of what is essentially mood-altering behavior. Other people get in over their heads, make some mistakes they regret and learn some difficult but valuable lessons about themselves on the road to greater wisdom. But just like some people can't successfully drink alcohol under any circumstances, a large segment of society is just not able to manage online sexual behavior in a healthy manner. The good news is that a lot of help is available and more and more people are recognizing the benefit of this help for individuals, families and society at large.
Since I specialize in providing discrete and understanding assistance to individuals and couples in Atlanta who are having to deal with the damage caused by hidden compulsive sexual behavior, I can be a guide to resources and support options that can help further the road to recovery. With each passing month increasing numbers of people are accepting the legitimacy and importance of this ravaging set of behaviors, and society at large is growing ever more understanding of the breadth and depth of this issue. No one needs to deal with this alone any more.
I hope you will take a little time to read some of my many other articles to educate, encourage and inspire you along your journey to a life you richly deserve. If I can provide more personal assistance to you, either in person, by phone or via Skype, please don't hesitate to contact me.