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What is porn addiction?

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen

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What is Pornography Addiction?

Pornography addiction is when you can’t stop yourself from watching porn, even though you know that it’s causing you harm. While some people are able to look at porn occasionally without developing an addiction, for others, consuming a lot of porn can become a problem that negatively affects their lives. Although each person’s experience with pornography will vary depending on their age, life circumstances and individual personality and sexuality, an addiction to pornography is generally characterized by a consistent inability to stop consuming sexually explicit content. It can also include an increasing desire to watch more extreme or graphic content as time goes on. Porn addiction is also commonly referred to as “sexual addiction” or “hypersexuality.” While there is no singularly agreed-upon definition of “sexual addiction,” there are a number of common characteristics. Individuals who struggle with frequent or out-of-control sexual thoughts or behaviors may have an addiction, and many people with this condition also struggle with pornography addiction.

How to Tell If You Have a Pornography Addiction

If you feel like you can’t control your viewing habits or that you spend too much time with sexually explicit content, you might have an addiction to pornography. If you notice that you are getting negative or harmful results from your porn use—like if it’s causing you to lose friends, miss out on good opportunities, or spend too much money—then there’s a good chance that you may be developing a dependence. If you want to figure out if you’re addicted to pornography, there are a few questions you can ask yourself. For example, how often do you watch pornography? Does it interfere with your daily life, such as your relationships, work, or other responsibilities? Do you spend significant amounts of time fantasizing about what you want to see or need to see next? If you notice that your porn use is negatively impacting your life, it’s possible that you have an addiction. Talking to a therapist or doctor is another option, as they can diagnose you with an addiction and help you develop a treatment plan.

Strategies for Overcoming a Pornography Addiction

If you have an addiction to pornography, the first step is to recognize that you have a problem, and then seek help. Next, you can employ a variety of habits and techniques to break your porn habit and combat your addiction.

  • Set limits for yourself – First, establish a daily or weekly time frame for viewing pornography. In other words, treat pornography consumption like a normal habit and set strict limitations for when you can allow yourself to indulge. This approach can help you to better manage your viewing habits, as well as reduce your overall exposure to pornography.
  • Create a support system – Working towards recovery from a pornography addiction is often easier when you have other people to help and support you along the way. For example, if you are in therapy, you can use it as an opportunity to discuss your pornography habits and learn healthier ways to cope with life’s challenges. Additionally, joining a support group with others who are in similar situations can be very helpful.
  • Replace problematic behaviors with healthy ones – Instead of thinking of your pornography addiction as something you have to get rid of, try to think of it as something you have to replace. Instead of using porn, try to find healthier outlets, such as exercising, spending time with friends, or doing another activity that you enjoy.

What Causes Porn Addiction and Online Compulsive Sexual Behavior?

The exact causes of porn addiction aren’t fully understood yet. Researchers believe that most internet addictions, including porn addiction, may be caused by a combination of factors, such as genetics, environmental influences, personality traits, and social factors. Some people are more likely to be drawn to the internet, computers, video games, and porn because they offer an escape from unpleasant feelings such as anxiety, boredom, loneliness, or depression. In other words, people turn to internet pornography as a way to numb out. Unfortunately, this only works for a short time. Then the person feels even more negative emotions than before, usually shame and guilt.

Is Internet Addiction the Same as Online Porn Addiction?

If you’re unsure if you have an internet addiction, look for these signs:

  • You spend more time online than you planned to.
  • You cut back on social activities and other responsibilities so you can have more time to be online.
  • You feel like you have to be online and that you can’t live without it.
  • You experience negative consequences from being online, but you can’t stop.
Some people have what’s called “malicious internet use.” This is when you use the internet to hurt other people, such as posting false information, impersonating others, or stalking. It’s possible to have an internet addiction without using the internet for malicious purposes. The main thing that matters is the impact on your life.

Can Alcohol Abuse Lead to Sex Addiction?

Like internet addiction, sex addiction is a general term for a compulsive and destructive pattern of sexual behavior. Sex addiction is defined as when sexual behavior interferes with your life — and you can’t stop it, even when you want to. There are different types of sex addiction, but they all have one thing in common: a desire to escape from problems and negative feelings. Although alcohol and drugs are sometimes used in sexual addiction, sex addiction is not the same thing as alcohol or drug abuse or an addiction to porn. Alcohol abuse and other forms of substance abuse do not alone cause sex addiction, but it can put you at risk for developing an addiction to sex if you also have a sexual compulsion. And vice versa — people who are prone to sex addiction can be drawn to alcohol as a way to find an escape from their problems.

Is Viewing Porn Normal?

Many people watch porn without experiencing any negative consequences, but excessive porn use can be a symptom of an underlying mental health disorder. Pornography has become an increasingly prevalent part of our digital culture. In fact, you could argue that the ubiquity of internet pornography is directly related to its explosive growth. Today, people are watching pornography more than ever before. It’s no longer just a niche subculture reserved for weirdoes and creeps lurking in the shadows. Thanks to the accessibility of high-speed internet, pornography is becoming normalized and widely accepted as an everyday pastime activity for millions of people around the world. As a result, we’re seeing more and more men (and women) struggling with pornography addiction on a daily basis—ranging from individuals who feel like they can’t stop viewing it to those who risk losing their relationships or even their jobs because of it.

Treating Pornography Addiction

If you realize you have a compulsive need to use online pornography and don’t know how to stop, it’s important to take steps toward treating it right away. The first step is to admit that you have a problem, which can be difficult for many people, even when they know it’s a problem. It’s important to have a support system of people who can help you through the process of change. Counseling, therapy, and support groups can be helpful. If you’re in the early stages of addiction, you may be able to stop compulsive internet pornography use with self-help strategies, such as setting time limits and/or disabling the wifi connection when you don’t need to be online.

7 Steps to Recovering if You Are Addicted to Porn

If you are struggling with a pornography addiction, know that you aren’t alone. While pornography addiction is a real phenomenon, there are many treatment options available. If you suspect that you might have a problem with pornography, it’s important to get help as soon as possible. It is never too late to seek treatment for a pornography addiction, and there are many resources available to help you on your journey toward recovery. Porn addiction treatment is a process, and sex addicts can recover by seeking the help of experts in mental disorders, sexual dysfunction, and behavioral addictions.

1. Recognize That You Have a Mental Health Disorder

Pornography addiction is a serious mental health disorder that requires professional treatment, support, and ongoing guidance. It doesn’t go away on its own, and it’s not something that you can just try to “snap out of” on your own. The fact is, problematic pornography habits and pornography use disorders are ravaging the mental health of millions of men in the United States and around the globe. The more you use pornography, the more you become trapped in a vicious cycle of addiction that is extremely difficult to break without help. As mentioned above, people who have a problem with pornography use often don’t even see it as a problem. This can make it incredibly difficult to recognize that you have a serious mental health issue that needs treating.

2. Get Help from a Mental Health Professional

If you’re having trouble recognizing that you have a serious pornography addiction, a mental health counselor or therapist might be able to help. These professionals are trained to help you understand and identify your problems so that you can begin to find a solution. You can also work with a therapist to develop a personalized recovery plan that will help you get back on track with your life and break the cycle of addiction. Just make sure that you choose a therapist who has experience helping people overcome pornography addictions, because not all therapists are trained in this area. If you don’t have health insurance that covers mental health care, you can find low-cost options through the internet or aid organizations.

3. Go to Rehab for Behavioral Addictions

If you’re struggling with any type of behavioral addiction, including pornography addiction, you could benefit from going to rehab for behavioral addictions. These in-patient and residential treatment centers provide a safe and supportive environment for people who are struggling with addiction. In many cases, you can get special insurance billing for this type of treatment, meaning that you won’t have to pay a single cent out of your own pocket. Rehab for behavioral addictions is ideal for people who have progressed to the point where they’re putting themselves or others in danger. People who are just beginning to struggle with a pornography or other addiction might benefit from seeing a mental health counselor first.

4. Treat Underlying Drug and Alcohol Abuse Problems

Pornography addiction is often tied to another addiction—namely, an addiction to drugs or alcohol. In fact, a large percentage of people who struggle with pornography addiction also struggle with drugs or alcohol. To be honest, pornography is almost always tied to another addiction. It’s very rare for someone to only watch porn. Usually, people take other drugs and/or alcohol while they’re watching porn to try to make the experience more enjoyable. A lot of people who watch porn don’t realize that it contains chemicals that affect the brain in the same way that drugs do.

5. Address Other Mental Health Issues

Pornography addiction often goes hand-in-hand with other mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). If you have one or more of these issues, the likelihood of you developing a pornography addiction is significantly higher. You should work with a therapist to treat these underlying mental health issues before you try to deal with your pornography addiction. Otherwise, you could end up making your addiction worse. When you have fewer mental health issues, it becomes much easier to resist the urge to watch pornography. It also becomes easier to recognize that you have a problem and to get the help that you need.

6. Choose Real People over the Computer

We understand that it can be tempting to try to find a replacement for the pornography you’ve been watching. However, this is not always the best idea. Trying to find a replacement for your porn addiction will likely just lead to another addiction. While it is good to work up to having real sexual encounters with real people, it is not wise to simply substitute a real-life sexual addiction for an online one. No one person, activity, or relationship can ever replace what you experienced while watching porn. Trying to find something to take the place of your addiction will just lead to frustration and failure. You’ll just end up falling back into your addiction again. Instead of trying to find a replacement for your addiction, you should focus on replacing the reasons why you turned to porn in the first place. This can help you to break the cycle of addiction for good.

7. Find a Support Group

Support groups can be a great way to get the help you need to break free from pornography addiction for good. There are many support groups for people struggling with pornography addiction, including Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA), Sexaholics Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA), and the National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity (NCSAC). These groups are a great way to connect with other people who are going through the same thing you are. You can share your experiences, learn from others, and work together as a group to find solutions to your problems. Support groups are often a great place to get the help you need to get the right treatment. They are usually free or low cost and are run by trained professionals.

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Edited by: David Beasley

David Beasley - Design for Recovery

RADT
David Beasley is a certified RADT (Registered Alcohol/Drug Technician). David, moved to California from North Carolina after many failed attempts to get sober.

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen
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LMFT
Charley earned his Masters of Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, Los Angeles, and is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).He teaches mindfulness to both adults and children in group setting such as schools, corporate workplaces, and medical treatment facilities.

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