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How Has the Internet Affected Sex Addiction

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Running head: How has the Internet Affected Sex Addiction

How has the Internet Affected Sex Addiction
Edward Vega Jr.
National University

Abstract
Sex addicts have plenty to struggle without adding the access to their wildest fantasies. That is what the Internet has given them. Addicts can get online and search pornography, cybersex sites and sites where they can find people to meet up with. The Internet makes it that much easier for sex addicts because just like any other addict they are ashamed of their addiction but with the Internet they do not have to worry about it cause they can do whatever they want from the comfort of their own home. What we need to understand is that sex addicts are not born sex addicts. Some sort of abuse had to happen while they were children.

How has the Internet Affected Sex Addiction There are lots of different addictions in the world that people are dealing with, from drug alcohol and gambling. The addiction that I am going to focus on is sex addiction. Sex addiction has been around for as long as any other addiction and is just as serious. However since the Internet has become bigger and better we can do anything we can imagine, so how has the internet affected sex addiction?
“The terms "sexual addiction" is used to describe the behavior of a person who has an unusually intense sex drive or an obsession with sex” (WebMd). The following behavior patterns can indicate the presence of sexual addiction:
Out of control sexual behavior; Compulsive masturbation (self-stimulation), Multiple affairs (extra-marital affairs), Multiple or anonymous sexual partners and/or one-night stands, Consistent use of pornography, Unsafe sex, Phone or computer sex (cybersex), Prostitution or use of prostitutes, Exhibitionism, Obsessive dating through personal ads, Voyeurism (watching others) and/or stalking (WebMD).
“Some severe consequences reported by sexual addicts include: suicidal obsession, relationship problems, loss of career opportunities, exposure to AIDS, venereal disease and rape” (Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 2008). Addicts use the Internet as their tool to find sex partners. Many spend most of their time on the Internet exploring erotic Web sites. The Internet changed the way in which people communicate. When they get the urge they have the ability to look up anything they want from pornography, sex cams to chat rooms.
Not long ago we were figuring out how to use the World Wide Web and now we have everything we want at our fingertips in the comfort of our own home. In Shadows Of The Net written by Patrick Carnes Ph.D., David Delmonico Ph.D. and Elizabeth Griffin M.A., estimates about 322 million internet users spread over 120 countries. Journal of Addictions & Offender Counseling estimates that 17 to 37 million Americans struggle with sex addictive disorders. In recent years, the Internet pornography business has grown to an estimated 13-billion-dollar industry (Ropelato, 2006), with nearly 50% of all Internet use related to sexually oriented websites (McNair, 2002) (Psychological Record, 2012).

Figure 1 Pornography Revenue Statistics showing the financial growth during 2005 and 2006. (ToptenReviews, 2003-2007)
Many addicts fill their need by placing an ad on an erotic Web site. In their ad, they included pictures, physical details and sexual fantasies. More times than not they will change their names partly to secure their identities and partly because just like any other addict they are ashamed in what they are doing. Addicts will also do whatever it takes to make sure family and friends do not find out or at least see them participating in their addiction. They do this in fear of being judged or forced to deal with their addiction.
The convenience of sexually oriented Web sites on the Internet gives the sex addict immediate access to potentially dangerous people. The seeker can become a victim of a sexually related crime but because they cannot beat the urge to have sex they give no second thought to the dangers they might face. This behavior is often accompanied by other addictions such as drinking, drugs and eating disorders. The sex addict engages in sex to feel better about them self. They became so consumed with this feeling that they soon avoid their responsibilities; work, family, school etc.
Things like cybersex and sex shops have a big impact on marriages, families and even the addict themselves. “Consumers of cybersex may manifest changes in sleep patterns, demands for privacy and isolation, disregard for responsibilities, changes in personality, loss of interest in partner sex, and decline in relationship investment—all of which impact one’s spouse and family (Young et al., 2000)” (Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 2008). Addicts worry so much about getting their “fix” that they never stop and think about the people around them. It is no longer come home from work and cook dinner or help around the house, it is all about coming home from work and getting on the best porn site or sex cam.
Most families get use to a routine of some sort and for the most part stick to that routine on a day to day basis. By doing this we are building confidence, security and relationships with our family. Now if the routine was to change in any way it would affect people in different ways. So when a family member starts to get more and more involved with cybersex it really has an impact on the whole family. This is what an article from Journal of Marital and Family Therapy had to say,
The fundamental assumptions of this exploratory study were that the use of cybersex by an individual affects the entire family in profound ways, resulting in covert changes to definitions of love and intimacy in the couple and changes in the parent–child relationship through parental isolation and under-involvement (Schneider & Weiss, 2001). While existing studies and literature have focused primarily on cybersex as an addiction or a compulsion, systems theory leads us to posit that most forms of cybersex use, including non-addictive ⁄ compulsive or recreational use (exceptions include research, sex education, etc.), may have a negative impact on the family. The long-term effects of cybersex on children and young adults are unknown (Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 2008).
“The reality is that people who are sex addicts suffer from a need for danger,” said Sue Silverman, recovering sex addict, speaker on addictions and author of two memoirs: Love Sick: “One Woman’s Journey Through Sexual Addiction” and “Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You.” Silverman also said the Internet has provided more opportunity to “act out” and “It’s a secret highway to other people who feel ashamed of what they are doing, but have to do it anyway.” Doctors have attributed sex addiction to some deep psychological problem. Just like any other addict sex addicts start to search for that “high” and will do whatever it takes to fill their urge. It even gets to the point where sex addicts have to have some sexual encounter to get through their day.
Silverman was addicted to sex and had sex with men from work and that escalated to meeting men in bars. She then realized that these men did not care about her, they wanted sex. She said “she felt emotionally dead.” As sad as that may be that is usually the case for sex addicts and it only makes their addiction stronger. They begin to feel like having sex is the only way they can get attention and feel loved.
Family history plays a big role in sex addiction. If you have a parent or sibling with addictive habits, you are more at risk of developing an addictive personality. Also, if you were sexually abused as a child, you first suffer the abuse then look for a way to numb out the pain. Many addicts have cross addictions like drugs or alcohol.
In Silverman’s book she states “People are not born sex addicts, eighty percent of all women who are sex addicts were abused in their childhood.” Silverman said abused children cannot express what has happened to them. They take on addictive personalities as they grow older. She also said “The only way that they can feel better about themselves is to start ‘acting out.’” Research by Dr. Patrick Carnes, author, speaker and pioneer in sexually addictive behavior, has estimated the population affected by sexual addiction is between 3 and 6 percent.
Dr. Carnes also feels that “treating chemically reliant individuals has shown that successful intervention with an addict's extensive denial and repression system requires professional help.” Sex addiction is not like any other addiction where you can just go “cold turkey.” There is usually some sort of abuse that took place in an addict’s life. Situations like these need to be handled by professionals who know how to find the problem and help work them out.
“Most sex addicts respond extremely well to a 12-step program, anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of people with sex addictions are improved by cognitive-behavior therapy or medications or both,” said Dr. Carnes. “The sex addict who is still in denial can justify his or her actions by saying that they love sex and need a lot of sexual partners, but the truth of the matter is this is a slow form of suicide.” Silverman said. People with addiction never feel they have a problem or feel that they have it under control and can stop anytime they want. That is never the case because if they did have it under control they would understand what they are doing to themselves and the people around them. There is no way someone in their right mind will allow themselves or the people around them to be hurt or suffer.
Dr. Carnes goal is to learn that feelings of sex can be lived through and the urge will subside. But perhaps the best strategy is to combine medication and behavioral therapy. Even after sex addicts are controlled by medication, he said people often have not learned that they can stop the behavior. This is common with any addiction because addicts get so consumed by their addiction they know other way to live.
This is where the Internet can be more positive and less negative. With all the sexual websites out there is just as many sites that can help addicts learn about their problem. Most addicts are ashamed or embarrassed of their addiction, so the internet will allow addicts to search the web and find the right help for them and their situation. Even though they will eventually have to talk to someone and admit they have a problem, the Internet will help them until they are ready.
As we can see sex addiction is a very serious matter and when it comes to the Internet it has a very big part in the situation. The access the Internet gives to addicts is over whelming and they have enough problems without adding Internet pornography. The Internet is not all bad and can actually help those who feel like they are ready to break their addiction. What we need to do now is make sure we do whatever we can to get that information out there. Pornography industries do a very good job at selling their product, so we need to do the same with addiction programs and all the other help that is out there.

References

Bridges, D. (2012). Sexual Conditions Health Center: Sex Addiction. WebMD. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/guide/sexual-addiction.
Carnes, P. J., Delmonico D. L., Griffin, E. (September 2007). In The Shadows of the Net: Breaking Free of Compulsive Online Sexual Behavior. Hazelden Publishing. Retrieved from http://play.google.com/books/reader?id=BCAAeJ_460oC&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&hl=en.
Goldberg, P. D., Peterson, B. D., Rosen, K. H., Sara, M. L. (October 2008). Cybersex: The Impact of a Contemporary Problem on The Practices of Marriage And Family Therapists. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. 34, 4, 469–480. Retrieved from http://ehis.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.nu.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=68e6f808-8a1f-4a73-b495-d5d21014b0d9%40sessionmgr14&vid=4&hid=23.
Hagedorn W. B. and Juhnke, G. A. (April 2005).Treating the Sexually Addicted Client. Journal of Addictions & Offender Counseling. 25, 66-86. Retrieved from http://66.199.228.237/boundary/Sexual_Addiction/Treating_the_Sexually_Addicted_Client.pdf.
Silverman, S. (September 1999). Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You. University of Georgia Press. Retrieved from http://play.google.com/books/reader?id=PtLKH7-G3UMC&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&hl=en.
Wetterneck, C. T., Burgess A., Short, M. B., Smith, A. H., Cervantes, M. E. (2012). The Role of Sexual Compulsivity, Impulsivity and Experiential Avoidance in Internet Pornography. Psychological Record. 62, 3-17. Retrieved from http://ehis.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.nu.edu/eds/detail?sid=b7286d28-e5e0-4be0-aea8-fd590d55f1f3%40sessionmgr12&vid=17&hid=1&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d#db=aph&AN=71612135.
ToptenReviews, Inc. (2003-2007). Perserving Family Value in a Media Driven Society. Family Safe Media. Retrieved from http://www.familysafemedia.com/pornography_statistics.html.…...

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