With sexual content available at the touch of a button, porn addiction has increased among teenagers and young adults in India.
Porn was once a dirty little secret; to be hidden under beds, whispered about with friends and guiltily enjoyed in private. Procuring it was even more difficult, especially in a conservative country like India.
But with computers came ease, anonymity and all the porn you could want at your fingertips. Faced with an explosion of sexual content, many got hooked, and soon found their relationships with family and friends strained. While not specifically mentioned as a mental disorder in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, porn overuse and addiction seems to becoming more and more common in this information age.
Dr Kalyan Chakravarthy, consultant adult, child and adolescent psychiatrist at Rainbow Children’s Hospital in Banjara Hills, says that the addiction is seen increasingly in teenagers and young adults. Several engineering students and software professionals are aware that their porn viewing has reached levels of addiction, but refuse to acknowledge it, he adds. “Some students are so addicted that they have stopped going to college. At that age, impulsive and aggressive personalities look for any form of excitement. A porn addiction is the cheapest,” said Dr Chakravarthy.
In the past six to eight years, there has been an increase in the number of cases of porn addiction, due to easy access to the internet through home computers and 3G-enabled cellphones. Many teens start viewing porn thinking that it is safe. However, the viewing time increases rapidly from 15-20 minutes to 3-5 hours per day. Teens start to stay up late watching porn, and the parents don’t see the signs as they believe their child is studying.
As to why people get addicted to porn, Dr Chakravarthy says, “Teens who are unable to focus tend to fixate on porn on the internet. Teenagers suffering from depression also may find an outlet in pornography. Nowadays, there is a lot of peer pressure for teens and young adults to be in relationships. Few who are unable to do so turn to porn.”
He adds that people with other addictions, like alcoholics and smokers, have a higher chance of getting addicted to porn, as it is the same reward system in the brain that determines all addictions. And it isn’t always men who are addicted to porn. Dr Chakravarthy says he has had around eight women approach him about their porn addiction. The ratio is roughly 3:1 when it comes to porn addiction in men and women, he adds.
Dr Savita Date-Menon, a clinical psychologist at Apollo Hospital, however, says only a handful of people have approached her for thisproblem, though she admits there may not be too many who are open about it.
Dr Date-Menon stresses that there is a difference between porn viewership and addiction. “There may be a lot of people who view porn, but not all of them become addicts. Only when the habit interferes with a person’s daily life does it become an addiction.” In her opinion, lack of privacy and fear of getting caught are reasons why not too many people become addicts. However, people living alone or away from spouses may turn to pornography for release.Just as the reasons for porn addiction are many, treatment varies from case to case. Medication is used only in cases of people suffering from ADHD and depression, and that too to correct the underlying problem.
The most common treatment is a method called motivational interviewing. In this, the patient is encouraged to assess their lives and the advantages and disadvantages of their habits. Most of them realise the problem themselves and they can give up the addiction permanently.Most of all, Dr Chakravarthy says, is that the victim has to be handled with tact. “The patient has to feel that it is a problem that can be rectified, not a criminal activity.”
Category: Family & Relationships