Guide to recovering from porn addiction

Addiction to pornography is becoming a real problem that many people do not take seriously. Because pornography addiction is not as objectively dangerous as an addiction to drugs or alcohol, many people allow the problem to fly under the radar.

Pornography addiction is part of a class of addictions called process addictions, or behavioural addictions. Even though they may not involve the use of drugs or alcohol, process addictions cause many of the same changes in the brain.

This guide on recovering from porn addiction will explore some of the dangers of porn addiction before teaching you about the most effective solutions for recovery.

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What are the symptoms of porn addiction?

Pornography addiction isn’t always easy to identify. Many people are able to engage in pornography usage occasionally without it becoming an addiction. Other people are able to masturbate a healthy amount without developing a habit.

One of the reasons that it’s hard to identify is that people don’t often discuss these habits. As such, there’s no third-person party to point out when their porn use crosses the boundary of ‘casual use’ into ‘addiction. This can make it very difficult for people to recognize the pornography habits of other people as well as their own.

Identifying some of the symptoms of pornography addiction is one of the best ways to recognize whether or not you or your loved ones have a problem. This section will outline some of the physical and psychological symptoms of pornography addiction. If you notice that you are experiencing several of these symptoms, it may be worthwhile to look into treatment for pornography addiction.

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Psychological symptoms of porn addiction

Pornography addiction is a behavioural addiction. As such, many of the most significant symptoms of addiction are psychological in nature. Understanding the behavioural issues associated with pornography addiction is one of the easiest ways to identify the problem.

Here are some of the most common psychological symptoms of porn addiction.

Constantly thinking about pornography and sex

Most people will think about sex and pornography several times a day. This is entirely normal. However, if you find the thoughts of pornography and sex are occupying your mind throughout a greater portion of the day, this could be a sign of addiction.

Foregoing other activities in order to watch pornography

If you find that you are foregoing your hobbies, activities, or responsibilities in order to watch pornography, this is a clear indication that you are developing, or have developed, an addiction.

Pornography interfering with your social life

Regular pornography use is generally not healthy, however, it does not necessarily indicate a problem. However, if you find that your pornography use is interfering with your social life, this could indicate an addiction. 

You may find that you are talking about pornography during social situations in which it would otherwise be inappropriate. You may also decide to opt out of social situations in order to watch porn and masturbate. 

Regular porn use can also create psychological changes that cause you to sexualize people that you engage with. If you find that you are looking at people, especially friends or family members, in an objective or sexualizing manner, this is a sign that your porn use is reaching the level of addiction.

Porn interfering with your relationship

Some couples are able to accept when their partners watch pornography. Other couples are able to engage in porn watching together. However, if your porn use is negatively affecting your partner or your relationship, this could be a sign of an addiction. Some partners are unable to accept their loved ones watching porn, and if porn use is more important to you, it’s important that you consider your priorities.

Lying or being deceitful about your porn use

If you find yourself being untruthful or lying about your porn use, especially to your partner, this is a sign that you’re becoming addicted.

Being unable to stop watching porn despite intending to

One of the biggest signs of addiction is being unable to stop watching porn despite having a strong desire to stop. If you no longer have self-control, this is a certain sign that your porn use has become an addiction.

Emotional changes

You may be surprised to learn that pornography addiction can actually cause emotional changes. These emotional changes can be both acute (short term) or long term.

Acute emotional issues caused by pornography use can include feelings of shame, sadness, or embarrassment regarding your addiction. You may feel these feelings after masturbating or while watching pornography, or you may feel hesitant or anxious prior to watching porn. 

These feelings often occur when your subconscious mind is responding to a behaviour that isn’t beneficial to your well-being. You may not consciously be aware that your habit is causing unhealthy patterns to emerge in your life, but the presence of negative feelings like this indicates that, deep down, some part of you knows that porn is not helping you.

Long-term changes can also occur. Some of these changes can emerge because of changes in the brain. Feelings like depression and anxiety can occur because of the chronic stimulation of the brain’s dopamine system and the relevant withdrawal or down-regulation of the system. Feelings of low self-worth or a distorted self-image can also occur because of the unrealistic standards set by pornography.

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Physical symptoms of porn addiction

Porn addiction can also cause physical symptoms. These symptoms are generally not too serious and can usually be reversed with a bit of time to heal. Some of these symptoms are psychosomatic, meaning that they are physical symptoms that emerge as a result of psychological behaviours or patterns.

These are some examples of physical symptoms of pornography addiction -

Sexual dysfunction 

One of the biggest and most challenging physical symptoms of pornography addiction is the development of erectile dysfunction. People who watch porn all the time often develop unrealistic sexual standards. This can cause it to become very difficult for them to get erections when they are actually in the bedroom with another person.

Excessive masturbation can also lead to physical difficulties getting an erection when presented with face-to-face stimulation.

Premature ejaculation can also result from pornography addiction. If you are frequently masturbating with the intention of having an orgasm as quickly as possible, you will basically be training your body to reach a point of orgasm quickly. 

Over time, this behaviour will become the norm for your body. This symptom is especially well known in men who began compulsively masturbating at a very early age.

Injuries

A number of injuries can also happen if you are frequently watching porn and masturbating. Masturbating too hard, too vigorously, or too frequently can lead to chafing, irritation, and other injuries of the genital region.

Sex addiction versus porn addiction

Porn addiction is one of the many different types of sexual addiction. Sex addiction itself, however, is very different than porn addiction. The two conditions can occur at the same time or independently of one another.

In fact, porn addiction can be the direct cause or the direct result of sexual behavior or the lack thereof. People who have a difficult time connecting with others and developing relationships may rely on porn for their sexual satisfaction. Conversely, porn addiction can set an unhealthy standard and desire for sexual connection.

Porn addiction can also make it very difficult for people to develop healthy sexual behaviors. This is especially true for young teenagers, especially males, who first become exposed to sexuality through the use of pornography. This immediately sets high standards, many of which are unrealistic, especially for people who are inexperienced or uneducated about sex.

This can make it frightening or challenging for teenagers to approach sexuality or form relationships.

On the other hand, pornography addiction can lead to rampant or deviant sexual behavior. Too much porn can cause people to become hyper-focused on sex. A lot of the behaviours depicted in porn are unhealthy or potentially dangerous. Teenagers who follow these actions, thinking that they are normal and healthy, could create disastrous or traumatizing sexual situations.

However, porn addiction doesn’t necessarily lead to all of these things. This only happens when porn use becomes habitual and problematic. People of all ages and genders can become addicted to porn.

Porn addiction recovery

If you or someone that you love are addicted to pornography, there are lots of things that you can do to overcome the problem.

Overcoming addiction is rarely easy. However, with enough determination and support, you can definitely do it. Here are a few things that you might like to do to overcome your porn addiction.

Be open and honest

As long as you are surrounded by people who are understanding and supportive, you should be open and honest about your problem. This can seem tricky at first, especially because pornography addiction is quite taboo. However, trying to tackle the problem on your own can seem overwhelming.

If you are not surrounded by people who are open and understanding, you may reach out to a support group. This leads to our next recovery tip.

Support groups

Addiction support groups have been popular for nearly a century. The first support group that achieved international claim was Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous focuses exclusively on recovery from alcohol. However, it has led to the development of a number of other support groups, some of which focus on behavioural addictions.

These support groups may not be as ubiquitous as drug and alcohol support groups, however, they are out there. 

Your best bet is probably going to be to look online for a support group. If you can’t find one that’s in your local area, there are plenty of online forums, group chats, and video groups that you can join to talk about your problem.

Support groups are one of the best things to do for anybody who has an addiction. They allow you to connect with other people who are on the same page as you. Having support from people who understand your problem is incredibly useful for anyone who wants to make positive changes.

Do some inner work

Figure out the underlying issues associated with your addiction and make some positive lifestyle changes. Anyone who has an addiction is driven by some sort of underlying emotional or mental issue. This is true even if the addiction started out fairly innocently.

It’s not always easy, but it’s very important to figure out what is driving your addiction. Pornography addiction especially is very challenging to understand because the driving forces are generally very personal and difficult to discuss with others, or even come to terms with yourself.

Sexuality and intimacy are very sensitive topics for just about everyone. If you first got introduced to sexuality through pornography, chances are, you never had a chance to really figure out how you feel about your own sexuality. Understanding these feelings can feel foreign and can be difficult to do. However, doing this is one of the only ways you’re going to figure out how to overcome your pornography addiction.

Counseling and rehab

If you’re having trouble overcoming your porn addiction on your own, then you might want to seek help from a professional. Many rehab companies offer treatments for people who have behavioural addictions.

The backbone of your rehab treatment will be connecting with a counselor. These counselors will help you understand the emotional, mental, and underlying factors driving your addiction.

By figuring these things out in a structured environment, you will be able to gain control over your addiction in no time.

Conclusion

Pornography addiction is very common, however, many people are unaware of this because not many people discuss their sexual habits.

Pornography addiction can cause a number of physical, emotional, and mental symptoms. Learning about your addiction and the underlying causes is one of the best ways to overcome it. If you’re concerned about pornography usage, don’t hesitate to start making positive changes today.