EXCLUSIVE: Working from home has fuelled a rise in porn addicts: Clinics reveal record number of Brits are seeking help after flexible working put ‘temptation at our fingertips’

  • Experts say hours spent on porn addiction have doubled compared to 2019
  • One centre has seen 750 clients in six months, compared to 950 pre-pandemic 
  • WFH has given porn addicted Britons an extra opportunity to feed their habit

Working from home — away from the prying eyes of colleagues — has fuelled a surge in porn addiction, experts have warned.

The number of Britons seeking medical help for the issue has almost doubled during the pandemic, when remote working became widespread.

Doctors say having temptation just a few clicks away has turned some casual porn watchers into addicts and worsened those who already had a problem.

The Laurel Centre in London, the largest sex and porn addiction clinic in Britain, says it is now treating some remote workers who watch up to 14 hours of porn a day.

Dr Paula Hall, the centre’s clinical director, said WFH meant people are now spending more time than ever alone in front of their computers at home.

‘It means you’ve got more opportunity, you don’t have to wait until you get home at night, you can be more impulsive during the day,’ she told MailOnline.

Working from home has given many Britons grappling with porn addiction increased opportunity to feed their habit 

The clinic has seen about 750 porn addicts in the first six months of 2022 alone, compared to 950 for the entirety of 2019.

Dr Hall said patients coming to the Laurel Centre this year need more intensive treatment.

Am I addicted to pornography? Some of the questions you should ask 

There is no strict definition of porn addiction but here are some of questions those concerned about their habits should ask:

Have you been struggling with your problem for more than 2 years?

Do you regularly view pornography for more than 11 hours a week?

Have you noticed that you need more and more stimuli or risk in order to achieve the same level of arousal?

Do you feel as if your sexual behaviour is out of your control?

Do you find yourself pre-occupied with either planning for, fantasising about, or recovering from your sexual behaviours?

Does your sexual behaviour have a negative impact on your relationship or your ability to start a relationship?*

Do your behaviours have a negative impact on your work or studies, finances, health, or relationships with friends or extended family members?*

Does your sexual behaviour contradict your personal values and potentially limit your goals in life?

Do you find yourself struggling to concentrate on other areas of your life because of thoughts and feelings about your sexual behaviour?

Have you tried to limit your sexual behaviour or stop it all together, but failed?

Are you more tempted to engage in sexual behaviour when you’re experiencing difficult feelings such as stress, anxiety, anger, depression or sadness?

Do you continue to engage in your sexual behaviours, even though they’re not as satisfying as they used to be?

Source: Pivotal Recovery

Therapists at the clinic spend around 600 hours a month helping people with porn addictions now compared to just 360 hours per month in 2019.

The real number of Britons suffering from porn addiction is likely to be underestimated, says Dr Hall, because many are put off seeking help due to shame and the cost.

Porn addiction can be loosely defined as regularly spending more than two hours at a time looking at adult material, she said.

But the main symptom is the damage it causes to relationships, someone’s careers and their mental health.

A spokesperson for Sex Addicts Anonymous UK told MailOnline: ‘Lockdown has had progressive deterioration on people’s sexual health and, whilst we don’t keep stats, the feeling is that there are more people attending our meetings, especially young people, looking for freedom from compulsive sexual behaviours.

‘Porn addiction is a shame-based illness. We use compulsive sexual behaviour to escape from and block difficult feelings.

‘It’s easy to see why; sex is powerful and all consuming and unlike alcohol or narcotics, we don’t have to visit the office or see our dealer.

‘We face a public health crisis with toxic pornography available at no cost to anyone, which is especially worrying for our young people.’

There were an estimated 1.7 million people who said that they work mainly from home in 2019, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which this represents about 5 per cent of the total workforce.

This surged to almost half (46.6 per cent) in April 2020 during the first Covid lockdown, with about 13million mainly working from home.

While the share of people working predominantly from home has dropped since the peak of the pandemic, hybrid working has become a mainstay. 

The most recent ONS data suggests 9.9million people now mainly work from home. 

Rates are particularly high in the capitol, with Kings College London research finding 61 per cent of workers now work from home at least once a week. 

Recent rail strikes have also prompted many employees to return to homeworking.

An estimated 91 per cent of London’s office workers were estimated to have worked from home during June’s rail strikes, a pattern believed to have been repeated during last week’s industrial action. 

Dr Hall said porn usage among Britons had declined from pandemic driven high as life and work routines have returned to normal. 

But she said damage done and habits formed during lockdown meant some people were coming to the realisation they had a problem or are struggling with relapsing’.

Online porn website PornHub reported a 5.6 per cent spike in daily traffic on August 24 2020 when the conference software Zoom crashed leaving thousands of online business meetings were cancelled.

Dr Hall said pandemic-related stress was one reason why many Britons had sought escapism through porn – and she predicts a similar rise as people worry about the cost-of-living crisis.

‘If you’re regularly viewing pornography for longer than two hours it’s probably not about sexual arousal. It’s probably about escape,’ she said. 

‘It’s a bit like making yourself breakfast and staring at it for two hours, if you’re hungry, you’re going to eat it, not going to stare at it.

‘Addiction is a sign of a life that is unhappy and not being well managed.’ 

Despite a significant increase in people seeking help for porn addiction, Dr Hall said many were put off by the cost and stigma of therapy to help treat the condition.

Dr Hall recently launched Pivotal Recovery a series of podcasts to help people beat porn addiction more discreetly. 

Porn addiction is considered a form of sex addiction, where people become dependent on the enjoyable feeling or ‘high’ experienced sexual activity.

Sex addiction is controversial with the NHS saying experts disagree on whether it actually exists or not.

A number of celebrities have claimed to suffer from the condition such as comedian Russell Brand, actor Michael Douglas, X-Files star David Duchovny, and actor Colin Farrell.

WHAT IS SEX ADDICTION?

In July 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared sex addiction is a mental-health disorder.

Yet many experts disagree about whether this is an actual diagnosis.

According to the relationship counselling service Relate, sex addiction is any intimate activity that feels ‘out of control’.

This could be sex with a partner, masturbation, pornography use, visiting prostitutes or using chat lines.

In some cases, people feel unable to control their urges, which affects their quality of life and those around them. 

According to the WHO, compulsive sexual behaviour disorder is defined as an inability to control intense sexual urges leading to people neglecting their health despite often deriving no pleasure from being intimate.

Patients must suffer from the disorder for at least six months, and experience substantial distress as a result of their addiction, before being diagnosed, the WHO adds.

Source: NHS Choices 

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