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Reasons Why Sex and Porn Addiction Happens - Students and Mental Health During Covid Pandemic

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Reasons Why Sex and Porn Addiction Happens - Students and Mental Health During Covid Pandemic

Many patterns have emerged over the 8 years I have been working with sex and porn addiction clients in the types of causal factors for this disorder. I have written here already about trauma and relationships however here I'm going to share my experiences working with clients whose sex or porn addiction took hold in the early years of living independently. For many this is their university years when they are often miles away from family and friendship groups.

In the news this week https://www.fenews.co.uk/press-releases/60138-nus-student-survey-sends-clear-message-to-government-invest-in-mental-health-now there were reports on the NUS's student survey showing that more than half of students have experienced noticeable negative effects on their mental health as a result of the Covid lockdowns on their campuses. Concerns throughout this academic term about university students' mental health have been high on the agenda since September/October when infections spiked as the new year got underway.  The impact on students' mental well-being this year due to Covid is ON TOP of the 'normal' stress and anxiousness that many people experience during this period of their lives, Clearly, for a significant percentage of my clients, being away from home, feeling isolated and under the pressure of new academic expectations this period has been a major, or even primary, porn addiction 'foundry' where their dysfunctional mental coping mechanisms were forged, to be an enduring 'go to' rescue kit whenever things get tough.

Why is this so important? I have come to think that this frequently occuring 'genesis' of many clients' addictive pattern is a strong indicator of how the emotional state which occurs during difficult experiences becomes fused with a certain set of behaviours (which generate a certain set of neurochemicals to soothe and calm https://esteemtherapyyorks.co.uk/counselling/free-resources-for-sex-and-porn-addiction---module-2). Our brains have a strong tendency to make associations when a pattern of emotions, thoughts and behaviours occur.  In short, our brains learn that certain behaviours provide respite from difficult experiences, emotions and other psychological disturbances and will return to them again and again when these re-emerge or are, for some, constant.  

Its not a quantum leap then to see how earlier traumas can also set up this pattern of emotional disruption and insecurity and a seeking-out of self-soothing behaviours - often related to parts of the body such as mouth, genitals and anus. So drinking, eating, masturbation and anal sexual activities or control become the adult versions of these. Many clients report fetish-type interests where stress and anxieties trigger off instant fantasies about certain body parts, sexual activites, clothing or objects of arousal.  

If you are worried about your use of sex and pornography then knowing this is a major step in coming out of denial and starting to consider recovery options. This is because understanding how your early traumatic experiences have set you up for automated triggers ("I'm angry/hurt/lonely/vulnerable but I know doing a web cam or looking at porn will help me forget") will point to where new adaptive strategies can be put in place to head off the triggers. Learning to be more resilient in the face of challenge, set-backs or criticism is a good example. Resilience helps to regulate strong negative emotions and self-limiting thinking so that safety mechanisms such as compulsive sex and porn (as opposed to healthy, affirmative sex with a partner) won't be the 'go to'.

It is highly likely that many students will end up learning new maladpative patterns of coping mechanisms such as drink, drugs or sex whilst they are away at college regardless of Covid. It is highly likely that EVEN MORE will be needing help in the years to come due to Covid. Lets hope that they (or you) have access to the means to get professional support early on before the serious life-changing consequences experienced by my often very much older clients happen for them/you. Recently I have worked with several clients in their late 60's and 70's whose life-partners and families are reeling from the tsunami-like shock of discoveries of their husband's/father's/ life-long sex and porn addictions. Please don't let your friends/siblings/clients/partner/yourself be like them. See the pattern and talk to someone.

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