Many people view porn addiction in terms of black and white. You either have it or you don’t.
This approach, however, is not very practical. It forces most of the people to react by denying any form of porn addiction, until they are presented with undeniable facts, such as getting into legal trouble, or getting caught by their spouse or children.
In his book “Treating Pornography Addiction” Dr. Kevin B. Skinner suggests viewing addiction not in terms of black and white, but rather in terms of stages.
Stage 1. Mild exposure – once or twice a year, no affect on regular life.
Stage 2. Pornography use does not indicate addiction – occasional looking at pornography with increased interest.
Stage 3. Signs of trouble – person looks about once a month, usually tries to avoid, but occasionally urge get so strong that cannot be controlled, and person gives in.
Stage 4. Individual notices increased sexual fantasies, and attempts to control them, which results in stronger withdrawal symptoms.
Stage 5. Pornography impacting day to day living with significant portion of the day spend thinking about pornography.
Stage 6. Pornography dominates most of the day to day lives, affecting work, school, and personal relationships.
Stage 7. Pornography and acting out consumes most of individuals time, leaving him feeling completely out of control.
This “staged” definition of porn addiction is very practical, and it allows individuals to recognize the signs of trouble and begin seeking help prior to arriving to stage 7.
Similar approach could be used with almost all pleasurable behaviors such as drinking coffee, eating, and watching TV, and I believe it provides a simple, but effective definition of addiction.