Addiction is an incredibly common topic in the mental health field, but pornography addiction isn’t as readily discussed.
Statistics say that between 5-8% of adults struggle with this kind of addiction.
Joining us today to talk about pornography addiction is Joshua Shea, a pornography addiction expert and betrayal trauma coach.
Key Takeaways from Dr. Fedrick’s 1-on-1 with Joshua:
• Hear more about Josh’s background and how he got into the field
• Learn the correlation between mental health concerns, trauma, and pornography addictions
• Find out how Josh became aware that pornography was an addiction with which he was struggling
• Learn potential risk factors that can lead to a pornography addiction
• Find out more about age appropriate messaging which can help to prevent this kind of addiction
• Hear steps to think if you think you may have a problem
All of this and more, on this episode of Calm, Cool and Connected.
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Dr. Fedrick: Hello, and welcome to calm. Cool and connected. I'm your host, Dr.
Elizabeth Bedrick while addiction is an incredibly common topic in the mental health field. The issue of pornography addiction is usually something less often discussed. This is likely due to the discomfort that it creates for a lot of people. However, pornography addiction has certainly been on the rise as the accessibility of electronic devices, the internet.
All of those modern technology has also been on the rise. [00:01:00] This is created an increase in this concern and research suggests that about five to 8% of adults struggle with this form of addiction and that it commonly co-occurrence with other addictions as well. Joshua Shay is a pornography addiction expert and a betrayal trauma coach.
Who's here to talk with us today about the truths of this form of addiction and give us some insights around it. Hi, Joshua.
Joshua Shea: So much for having me today.
Dr. Fedrick: Thank you so much for being here. This is a really interesting, profound whatever word we want to use to describe it topic. That is like I mentioned in the intro, not talked about so frequently.
So tell us a little bit about yourself and the work that you do in it. And, and also how you got into.
Joshua Shea: Yeah. Well, the long story short is that I became a pornography addict myself at 12 years old. I had a very stereotypical textbook story, which involves being you know, somebody who was unfortunately [00:02:00] the victim of abuse.
And I had to I had to learn that my coping techniques that I used for 20 years as an addict. Like you said, cocoa addicted with alcohol, that it just simply, wasn't a manageable way to live. I didn't even realize that a pornography addiction was a thing for most of my addiction. Ironically, when I finally went and got help for both my alcoholism and my.
Pornography addiction in rehabs. I recognized just how little there was out there when it came to pornography addiction truths for average people, it was being studied, but none of the, none of the response and none of the details were coming out and trickling down. So I decided that, you know, since I didn't think I fit the stereotypical.
Mold. I was going to go ahead and start creating resources for people who were like me and who were, you know, maybe a little bit afraid to look into this. Maybe didn't want to face the truth. And since I've been doing this, it's been [00:03:00] wonderful because this is truly such an epidemic. That's going on really just under the surface, sort of a subculture, but it's hitting so many people these days.
And I'm just glad that I can be there to.
Dr. Fedrick: I'm sure. And I'm sure you're helping a lot of people, because like you're saying, there maybe is not tons of resources and because of the shame or the judgment, or even the societal views about sex in general, that puts this into a whole unique category that often just doesn't get discussed or addressed in the way that it needs to
Joshua Shea: be.
Absolutely. It's because it's naked people. It's because it's sex it's because pornography scratches certain itches. We don't want to, even in, in even admit to ourselves in the back of our head and until we can start talking about pornography, how can we possibly talk about pornography addiction? So we kind of need to grow up and be adults about this [00:04:00] stuff and recognize that we have to talk.
Dr. Fedrick: Sure. So tell me what, what's the correlation from the research that you've been doing between mental health concerns, trauma issues, as you stated earlier what's the correlation between those two things and pornography?
Joshua Shea: Well with pornography addiction, one of the greatest studies that was done Dr.
Patrick Carnes, who's kind of the godfather of study in this area among men. Roughly 70% of porn addicts have some kind of abuse in their background of a physical nature. Around 80% have abuse of a sexual nature. Over 90% have abuse of a mental or emotional nature. And that involves trauma that has not been resolved.
Because along the way, these men have found a outlet to cope with it. They found their crutch. And now that we're learning more about this now that we're seeing after 20 years of high-speed internet, what happens, you know, it's time that people step up and recognize that [00:05:00] most addicts have mental health issues.
It doesn't even matter about the addiction. Most addicts have mental health issues, but it's also important to record. People with mental health issues are not necessarily all addicts,
Dr. Fedrick: absolutely such an important distinction. And I really appreciate you bringing in that trauma piece because the unprocessed unresolved.
Has profound effects on so many people's lives, whether it's through addiction or the impact on their relationships. So their daily functioning, we know that unresolved trauma is really powerful and how it influences the behaviors. And as you're saying, the coping techniques that are chosen so that's, I appreciate you bringing that up.
That's crucial. How is pornography addiction similar to other types of addiction? Where, what is the. Well mean,
Joshua Shea: if you boil it down to a cellular level pornography addiction doesn't take place in the crotch food addiction. Doesn't take place in the stomach gambling addiction. Doesn't take place in [00:06:00] the wallet.
It all takes place up here and it's just that the person found whatever it is. To calm the storm in their head on a chemical level. 95% of addiction is basically the same on a chemical level in someone's head. Of course they all have different side effects depending on what you put into your body or the behavior that you use.
But it, it, it absolutely is a serious thing. You know, it, I lost 20 years of my life to this. I didn't, you know, I was walking around not being who I should be, and that's why I do this. I don't want any other person growing up now, especially in the, in the years of high speed internet ending up like I did, I w you know, nobody said anything to me when I was young, what can we say?
So people don't end up.
Dr. Fedrick: Absolutely. When you mentioned earlier that you weren't even aware that it was a pornography addiction for you for a long time. What, what brought that awareness? To you? What, where did that insight
Joshua Shea: come [00:07:00] from? Well, I recognized I used pornography differently than people as far back as high school.
But what actually recognized it was, I went to rehab for my alcoholism and after. Four or five weeks. My caseworker said, I think you may have some issues around sexuality and addiction. There. I'd like you to meet. I'd like you to meet with a colleague of mine off campus. And that's when he explained to me, he, this is what porn addiction is.
It's absolutely real. Here's our, here's a lot of the causes of it. And I was just textbook along the way and he didn't have to do a lot of convincing. And within three or four weeks, he was helping to dredge up memories. Of the abuse that I suffered when I was young and unfortunately, and that hurts and that's hard, but that's the first step in healing.
You know, recovery is recovery, isn't easy, but boy is it worth it?
Dr. Fedrick: Right. And, and when we, when we think about risk factors, so you mentioned the statistics on abuse and trauma, that can be risk factors for this addiction specifically, [00:08:00] what are some other potential risk factors that could even. Lead to this, or even open someone up to it, I guess
Joshua Shea: I don't quite understand the question.
Dr. Fedrick: even thinking about maybe a lack of supervision, you know, as we're thinking about the modern world and this lack of supervision with children on there, on the internet, or what they're doing with their free time, you know, things like that. Have you found any of that in your
Joshua Shea: research? Well, I'll tell you when I'm able to go and give presentations, which is starting to come back.
I almost always have a one parent or two parents come up to me and say, you know, we loved what you were talking about, but we don't have to worry because we have filters on our telephones and filters on our kids' devices. And I usually ended up saying, congratulations, you locked down one phone out of the 4.8 billion.
we live in a world where your child, it's not a matter of if they're going to see pornography, it's a matter of when. And if you don't know how they are going to respond, you can bury their [00:09:00] head in your head, head in the sand, all you want, but you're not really taking care of things. And that's what we need to do is begin with an age appropriate plan.
To teach kids about pornography, to teach kids about things going on, you know, at six years old, you can tell your child do not let anybody ever take pictures of you without your bathing suit on. And you can't, you're not allowed to take pictures of other people without their bathing suit on. And then you go off and forget about it for a while.
There's a little message and you can do age appropriate messages. So by the time they start to hit their teen years, You can be a little more Frank with them and let them know that yes, you'll be interested in pornography. That's completely natural, but pornography, you know, much like cigarettes or drinking or whatnot is not allowed in our house.
If you're under 18. A lot of parents are afraid to talk about pornography with their kids because they think it's the birds and bees speech. And it's not, it's the don't touch drugs. Don't smoke. Don't drink. It's part of [00:10:00] that speech, not how babies are.
Dr. Fedrick: Right. I, and that's great insight. I mean, that's exactly what I mean with the work that I do with parents.
It's all about that conversation. And it's about being willing to have these hard and open conversations because to your point, their kids are going to have access to it all. But if they've had these conversations repeatedly and they've brought it to their children's awareness, that's crucial for the preventative measures.
Joshua Shea: ' cause you know, like, like I said, it's not a matter of if it's a matter of when and you prepare your kids for all of the other bad things in the world. In the 1950s, we prepared kids for nuclear war by having air raid drills. Thankfully, we don't have to do that anymore, but it's the 2020s. This is where we are.
We have to step up and respond correctly as parents and as a society. Sure.
Dr. Fedrick: So tell us before we wrap up, if somebody suspects that maybe they're struggling with this type of addiction, what's the first step. What like even, so they just listened to this, [00:11:00] shut it off. What's the next.
Joshua Shea: Well, first thing I'll say is if you're questioning yourself, you probably do have an issue because nobody ever questions.
Gee, do I have a vacuuming addiction? It just doesn't happen. So if you think you have a problem, that's a big indicator. Something's there. I always say. First talk to a professional and get a baseline, figure out where you are. There are many different levels of addiction, compulsion, bad habits, figure out where you are.
And if you're at a place that you need to create some kind of a strategy, as soon as possible, talk to somebody who's been there. Talk to somebody who has been successful. When I coach both men and women with pornography issues, you just see this relief on their face. When they recognize I've been there, I've been successful.
But not only that I probably saw just as bad things as they did, and I'm not going to judge them. I'm not going to change. I'm not going to shame them. I'm going to create a safe space. And when people feel safe, that's when they can start to address their recovery. That's when they [00:12:00] can start to be honest about their problems.
That's when they can start to evolve and become healthy.
Dr. Fedrick: Absolutely that healing takes place in connection. We know that isolation just breeds, whatever the trauma, the mental health concerns, the addiction, when somebody is isolated on their own, all of that increases when they find connection and support, they can really get the help they need.
So that's a great point. Where can our viewers find you? Where can they find more information about.
Joshua Shea: Well, my website is P addict recovery.com. That's the letter P addict recovery. And you can also find me on pretty much all the major socials except Facebook, because I don't care who you voted for at P addict recovery.
And you'll get lots of tips, both about recovery, about what addiction is like and how to just try to, you know, create the best life possible for yourself.
Dr. Fedrick: Wonderful. Thank you so much, Joshua for joining
Joshua Shea: us. All right. Thanks for having me. I appreciate.
Dr. Fedrick: And thank you all for tuning into this episode of calm, cooling, connected.
Please make sure to find us on Facebook and Instagram and [00:13:00] also make sure to rate and subscribe to our podcast so that others can discover our content as well. Thank you again for joining us in this episode of calm, cooling, connected. .