Masturbation Addiction – when it becomes a serious problem

Source: Porn Addiction Help – Is Porn Addiction Real? | Men’s Health

Theo*, 47, has a successful job, a daughter, and many healthy friendships. From the outside, it appear as though he has a fairly conventional life. But for most of his life, he had a problem: he masturbated. A lot. “There were times it would be every day, for only 15-20 minutes, and other times I would masturbate for eight, 10, or 12 hours,” he says. And when he started, he could not stop. “For me, it was a maladaptive coping mechanism,” he says. “[It was] much akin to someone going to a bar and wanting to get that edge off with a drink, and then five or six drinks later, they have a problem. But everything else [in my life was] in control.”

Eventually, Theo went to therapy and discovered what he had already suspected: he had a problem with out-of-control porn use. But acknowledging that he had an issue was only the first step to getting his life back. Just as an eating disorder is usually about much more than food, the root of a compulsive sexual behavior is often about sex at all. Usually, there are underlying psychological issues. Theo, for instance, was sexually abused as a child, and says he has been struggling with out-of-control porn use ever since. “Because I experienced something traumatic that sexually activated me at a young age, watching porn and masturbating became a go-to for managing stress or anxiety and dealing with my feelings,” he says.

So how do you know if you’ve crossed the line from simply enjoying your own company, to having an out-of-control sexual behavior?

Are you using masturbation as an escape or a coping mechanism?

There is no magic number for how many times a day you must masturbate to be diagnosed with a compulsive sexual disorder. According to Sara Cooper, LCSW, CST, “While the sex addiction industry sets some sort of number… the out-of-control sexual behavior model [is defined as] a person’s internal sense of their own agency not being clearly understandable to the individual,” (basically, if your sexual behavior makes you feel helpless or out of control).

Additionally, if your masturbation habits are “taking time away from family, work and responsibilities,” or if you’re “at risk for job loss, financial ruin, criminal charges and/or sexually transmitted infections,” then you [may] have a problem, says Cooper.

But it doesn’t have to be extreme as that. Theo, for instance, knew he had a problem when masturbation became his sole outlet for managing stress and anxiety. A workaholic, he used porn as a way to unwind and escape from daily stressors. At his lowest point, he was masturbating for 12 hours a day, which didn’t leave much time to connect with real-life women. “I realized my behavior was dulling and deadening the quality of life and the vibrancy of intimacy. I wasn’t really able to connect with partners and be present in life,” says Theo. “There were large gaps of time that were lost. I didn’t have the same energy.”

Fortunately, compulsive sexual behaviors are treatable. The key is acknowledging you have a problem, communicating about it, and getting to the root of the behavior.

[Consult a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist] or mental health expert for a basic assessment. If you’re looking for a support system, there are also 12-step programs for sex addiction and out-of-control sexual behaviors.

Theo, who has been in therapy for years, says the first thing to do is start a dialogue with your loved ones. Be prepared to face confusion or judgment, at least at first. “There’s a huge stigma applied to porn, because so many people watch it, so talking about abusing porn with other people can be difficult because they get defensive,” he says. Nonetheless, it’s important to “talk to people who are valuable in your life, so you’re not living in denial, shame, guilt, or awkwardness.”

*Name has been changed for confidentiality.

Excerpts taken from following Article:
He Used to Masturbate Up to 12 Hours a Day. Here’s How He Got His Life Back.
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