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High-speed internet has made it easier than ever to access porn at an unprecedented pace, with scores now calling themselves porn addicts. But is that a real addiction? Scientists are divided. Editors' note: This story contains sexually explicit language and descriptions not suited for younger readers. At the beginning ofSteve had a stable marriage and his own business.

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By the end ofhe had neither. Alcohol abuse contributed to the year-old's downward spiral, but it wasn't the catalyst. Steve was addicted to online porn. On a light day, he watched between two and three hours on his computer. Sometimes he'd wait until his wife went to bed, pop amphetamines and masturbate for hours.

Other times, when his wife went out of town with their son, he'd spend entire afternoons watching porn. When I spoke with Steve over Zoom from his home in Texas, he proudly shared that it was his st day "sober" from porn. Steve is part of a growing online community that believes porn use can be as addictive and destructive as alcohol or drugs. Porn is nothing new, but high-speed internet has transformed it into a different beast. An increasing of people who grew up with internet porn call it a super stimulant they've become addicted to, even saying it has the capacity to rewire the brain.

But scientists are split: Some agree that porn can cause physical harm, while others say compulsive porn use is a coping mechanism for depression, anxiety and other issues. The schism between the two camps is so wide that some players have tried to publicly discredit each other, attacking credentials or alleging ties to the porn industry.

There have also been accusations of stalking Get high watch porn and threatening behavior, both online and in the real world. How do we classify it? How do we treat it? We're still working on those issues. With consensus in limbo, Kraus and others worry there's enough misinformation for people to diagnose themselves with a nonexistent addiction, yet not enough information for all medical professionals to spot s of harmful porn use when they're actually there. While the debate rages, more people have become troubled by their porn use.

Around 4. If those percentages were seen in the US, over 6 million Americans adults would be harboring a porn habit. The statistics notably don't include teenagers, a group increasingly likely to perceive themselves as porn addicts. The biggest online community that treats porn as addictive is NoFap, a group with overmembers on Reddit alone. Started in as a challenge to see how long men could go without masturbating, NoFap is now a community that warns both men and women about the health risks associated with porn use.

When Steve first chanced upon NoFap's Reddit years ago, he laughed. After his world began to crumble inNoFap helped to change his life. Age On average, that's when most people watch porn for the first time. For most boys and an increasing of girls, it's the beginning of a lifelong habit.

The internet has made it more easily accessible than ever, too.

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Wilson, who also runs the Your Brain On Porn website, has been instrumental in promulgating the idea that porn is a public health issue. Wilson argues that our hunter-gatherer brain, exposed to hours of pornography each week for years on end, becomes accustomed to super high levels of stimulation and begins to rewire itself, becoming numb to everyday pleasures but keenly receptive to porn.

Watching porn, he says, creates a vicious cycle that le to the erosion of willpower and the formation of an addiction.

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Wilson isn't an academic, but he pulls from a dizzying amount of research: Your Brain On Porn references over studies and literature reviews. It's a convincing volume, but the list strives for quantity over quality -- some studies had sample sizes as small as one. This, the site argues, substantiates one of Wilson's key claims: That widespread porn use has caused unprecedented rates of erectile dysfunction in young men.

The researcher behind the survey of 5, men, Gunter De Win, professor of urology at Belgium's University of Antwerp, isn't entirely convinced porn was the key problem. As with all studies on porn, the data isn't so simple. Those most likely to report erectile dysfunction in his survey were self-described addicts, but often watched less porn than others.

Put simply, respondents who watch 60 minutes a week and think they're addicted were more likely to report sexual dysfunction than those who watch a care-free minutes weekly. Additionally, many of the patients De Win treats have different definitions of ED. This means data has to be interpreted carefully. I think that is very difficult to consider at the moment. While inconclusive, the claim that porn consumption can cause sexual dysfunction is influential in anti-porn circles, and it caught the attention of Gabe Deem.

Like Steve, Deem has a traumatic date seared into his mind: St. Patrick's Day That was the first time he, at age 23, experienced erectile dysfunction. Eventually, he came across an erectile dysfunction test that asked him if he could masturbate Get high watch porn and porn. He couldn't -- and hasn't watched porn since. Sincehe's run an online forum for recovering addicts called Reboot Nation. For years, looking at porn meant magazines. High-speed internet porn is a different beast -- and a more dangerous one, some argue.

Many on NoFap, and not just young men, mirror Deem's moment of clarity. Deem notes that many activists decry porn with religious arguments, or by pointing to the abuse sometimes involved in porn production. But he wants to focus on the mental and physical health risks -- the sexual dysfunction, the depression, the emotional malaise -- which he's felt firsthand.

People jump on the no-porn bandwagon for different reasons. For some, it's self improvement. Others, like Deem, assess their habits after recognizing symptoms of addiction. For those Get high watch porn and consider themselves addicted, communities like NoFap prescribe a "reboot period" to undo the neurological harm they say is caused by years of pornography abuse. Reboots usually span 90 days, but if symptoms persist, can take over six months.

Online communities have different guidelines for "rebooting. Though these communities tend to view porn, rather than masturbation, as the problem, they argue that the brain benefits from a deep detox of all porn-related stimuli. Just as they question porn addiction itself, some medical professionals question the value of rebooting. David Ley, a practicing psychologist and sex therapist who once debated Deem on Katie Couric's talkshowtold me there's "not a shred of evidence" for it.

But whatever the reason, posters on NoFap report withdrawal symptoms during their reboot period. Other oft-cited withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, brain fog, insomnia and suppressed libido, a collection of issues known within the community as a "flatline.

Several people I spoke with cited enhanced feelings of self-control and mindfulness. Deem said he felt terrible for months but began to feel "glimmers of hope" after 90 days. He said it was 15 months before he could orgasm through masturbation without porn.

UNLV's Kraus says that there's "no scholarship" yet on how reboots work and that we don't really know why people experience these symptoms. It could be," he said. Kraus lands in the middle. Other scientists, psychologists and medical professionals go even further, arguing that much of what gets called porn addiction is pseudoscience. In other words, she argues, the "addictions" are really coping mechanisms.

This appeared relevant to some of the people I spoke to. Happily, he says, his addictive personality has now led him to become "addicted to fitness. InPrause co-authored a study which, comparing the brains of heavy porn viewers and substance addicts, questioned how appropriate the addiction model is for porn users.

Along with clinical psychologist Ley, she's been a leading scrutineer of claims made by the anti-porn movement ever since.

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It's not just that the "addiction" label is being misapplied, Prause says, but that the neuroscientific claims circulating in communities like NoFap range from misguided to flat-out incorrect. She says a lot of the arguments from anti-porn circles stem from a "differences as a problem" fallacy: MRI studies show how people's brains react to porn compared with other media, and those differences are eagerly interpreted as harmful.

There's nothing wrong about brain changes. Prause and Ley agree with some of the anti-porn movement's messages. One of Prause's studies showed that porn elicited strong positive and negative emotion at the same time -- excitement, guilt, happiness, shame -- making it a hazardous coping mechanism.

And Ley says people should scrutinize their porn and masturbation behavior, as NoFap encourages people to do, rather than be on sexual autopilot. For his part, Deem says he's not "anti-porn, just pro education. People who have diagnosed themselves find these communities and then, confronted with stories similar to their own, become convinced their diagnosis is correct.

Ley's point is a veiled jab at the likes of Deem and Wilson, who have no Get high watch porn and certifications. It's also a small illustration of the bitter tenor of the discourse. Deem counters by accusing Ley of being cozy with the porn industry. Deem criticized Ley for appearing on Stripchatan adult webcam platform, to tell viewers how claims about porn's dangers are overblown. They denied all the scientific research that showed harm, and they just said, 'Well look at this doctor, his favorite cigarette is Camel.

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The relationship between Prause and Wilson is dramatically more hostile. Each has tried to discredit the other. Much more seriously, both have accused each other of stalking, defamation and threatening behavior, which has turned a disagreement over science into a battle in the courtroom. He wasn't talking about inconclusive data, but rather how a debate over porn addiction has caused such bitterness.

But the question is for whom, and how do we determine that? We need hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of studies to really show that. Kraus is confident we'll know much more about how porn really affects people in three to five years, as more studies are being done on men and women who grew up surrounded by internet porn. Studies done in different countries with different cultures will also be invaluable. In the meantime, Kraus hopes the discourse will focus more on practical ways to help people and less on arcane scientific squabbles.

When I spoke to Steve on day of porn sobriety, he was open to the idea that porn was a coping strategy rather than his root problem. But his experiences getting clean still make him see problematic porn use as a giant problem for a generation of people now in their 20s and 30s. Porn addiction is ruining lives, but scientists aren't convinced it's real High-speed internet has made it easier than ever to access porn at an unprecedented pace, with scores now calling themselves porn addicts. Daniel Van Boom Dec.

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Everything You Need to Know About Pornography 'Addiction'