Pornography addiction refers to getting hooked on watching pornographic videos. It may become a problem when it starts to interfere with school, jobs, relationships, one’s ability to function in social situations, and daily life in general.
With easy access to the internet and the widespread availability of porn sites today, internet pornography addiction isn’t an uncommon occurrence. In 2019 alone, there were 42 billion visits to Pornhub—that’s 115 million site visits per day. Shocking, isn’t it?
You may have many questions about the condition, and today you’re going to find out the answers to some or perhaps all of them. In this article, you’ll learn what pornography addiction is, its causes, and its signs. If you’re concerned about a loved one dealing with this issue, or perhaps it’s you who wants to stop your porn habit, you’ll discover treatment options worth looking into as well.
Is Pornography Addictive?
Porn addiction or problematic pornography use (PPU) isn’t a recognized mental health disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but yes, porn can be addictive. Since it’s considered a behavioral addiction, it’s very much like gambling, alcohol, and sexual addiction.
Addiction to pornographic videos doesn’t always involve masturbation. Some people only like to watch porn, while others do it as they’re pleasuring themselves. So technically, it can’t be categorized as sexual behavior.
Studies show that people when people with online pornography addiction are shown sexual images, their brain activities are similar to those with drug and alcohol abuse issues. The area of their brains responsible for motivation, reward, and memory turns on. This explains why they have an uncontrollable urge to watch pornographic videos.
Watching porn or any sexually explicit material isn’t inherently bad. The same goes for masturbating, which is a natural act. But watching internet pornography frequently at the wrong place, at the wrong time and losing the ability to control your impulse to the point that it starts to negatively impact your life, that’s bad.
Compulsion vs. Addiction
Both compulsion and addiction involve a lack of control. Compulsive behaviors are repetitive actions without any rational motivation. Mostly, watching porn is a compulsion to reduce anxiety or stress. The urge to it may be uncontrollable, but it isn’t thought of often or in excess.
On the contrary, addiction involves the inability to stop watching porn despite knowing the negative consequences. Addiction involves a lack of control and relentlessly thinking about doing a particular act.
What Are the Signs That You’re Addicted to Porn?
The characteristics of someone with porn addiction differ from person to person. Moreover, individuals end up developing it for different reasons. For some, the intense urge only stems from boredom. For others, watching porn has become their way of reducing stress and managing anxiety. Meanwhile, the rest are hooked on the sexual pleasure they get from the experience.
Whatever the root cause may be, there are different signs for porn addiction. If you suspect a loved one is dealing with it or if you think you’re experiencing it, ask yourself these questions:
- Have you stopped doing things you used to love doing because you’re preoccupied with watching porn?
- Are you starting to neglect personal care because of excessive porn use?
- Have you become less interested in bonding with your family or socializing with friends because you prioritize porn?
- Is your current romantic or sexual relationship getting affected? Is your partner complaining about less sexual satisfaction?
- Have you neglected your responsibilities at work, at home, or in school because you’re watching too much pornography?
- Are you thinking about watching porn even at inappropriate times or places such as the office or a restaurant?
- Is your sex life getting affected? Perhaps you can’t have orgasms anymore because all you think about is what you see in pornographic videos.
- Are you having a hard time quitting or not watching for the past six months or more?
If you’ve answered yes to several of the questions above, it could be a sign that you’re addicted to porn. Do you know whom you can talk to in order to determine that assumption is correct? A psychiatrist or counselor. No one really knows what’s going on in your life or inside your mind, but you have to be honest to yourself and be brave enough to admit what you’re going through.
Should you be concerned about a loved one with porn addiction, try to ask them these questions. Better yet, send them a link to this article because they might find it embarrassing to talk to you about the issue. They might also get offended if you open up the topic to them. Remember to be sensitive, open-minded, and not judgmental.
Porn Addiction Possible Causes and Risk Factors
It’s unclear what truly causes porn addiction. Even the medical and mental health community finds that aspect of the condition rather controversial. However, these are the possible risk factors that contribute to a person’s addiction to pornography:
- Easy access to the internet and porn sites
- A history of sexual or physical abuse
- Relationship problems or dissatisfaction with sexual partners
- Compulsive sexual behavior caused by substance addiction or alcohol abuse
- Underlying mental health disorders like depression or hypersexual disorder
- High levels of serotonin or norepinephrine, which is linked to hypersexual arousal
- Changes in the brain’s pathway because of the euphoric effect of porn as this makes a person addicted and wanting that “high” feeling, prompting them to watch porn repeatedly
- Brain diseases like dementia and epilepsy can damage the regions of the brain responsible for controlling sexual behavior, which may lead to compulsive sexual behavior and watching porn for relief.
Porn Addiction Treatment and Remedies
Just like any other behavioral addiction, porn addiction can be overcome. With the combination of medication-assisted treatment, therapy, a holistic approach, and personal changes, anyone would be able recover from this condition.
If you think you’re addicted to watching porn and it’s starting to cause problems in your life, go ahead and seek treatment as soon as possible. Here are some of the options you need to know:
Though it may be obvious, the first approach to putting a stop to porn addiction is therapy or counseling. One way or another, you’re going to need the assistance of a mental health professional on your journey toward healing.
First of all, you have to talk to a counselor to ascertain whether you do have a porn addiction. Next, your counselor will help you pinpoint what has caused your uncontrollable impulse to watch porn. They’ll then evaluate how the addiction has negatively impacted your life. Lastly, you and your counselor will come up with a treatment plan that works for you. For instance, you’ll be given ideas on spending your free time or effective coping mechanisms so you’ll stop thinking about pornography.
This may require several counseling sessions, be they face-to-face or online. These are some common types of therapy you can expect:
Also known as talk therapy, this is a great way to explore what leads a person to develop porn addiction. It involves individual, group, or family counseling. Psychotherapy with a counselor can help one understand why the addiction started in the first place. Over time, the counselor and the patient will develop strategies on how to combat the latter’s addiction to porn.
It’s also an effective form of therapy to treat co-occurring disorders. Let’s say the addiction was caused by underlying depression. Psychotherapy can hit two birds with one stone and address both issues at the same time.
Behavior Modification or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Since porn addiction is a behavioral problem, behavior modification or cognitive behavioral therapy is highly recommended. Behavior modification is meant to help individuals with addiction problems change their harmful behaviors. It’s a form of psychotherapeutic intervention that follows the principles of operant conditioning, which in this case is targeted toward the urge to watch porn.
Medically reviewed studies have shown that behavior modification therapy has long-lasting effects on pornography users in stopping them from watching porn obsessively. In combination with psychotherapy and medication, CBT is excellent for addressing behavioral problems.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Another form of cognitive behavioral therapy that can aid in the treatment of pornography addiction is acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). Counselors use ACT to help people identify what triggers their impulses to watch porn.
Unlike CBT where changes of thought patterns are encouraged, acceptance and commitment therapy teaches a person how to accept tempting thoughts and how not to react to them. There’s no pressure for them to change their thought patterns but rather their responses. As a result, even when a pornography addict is exposed to pornographic videos, they won’t respond to them like they used to.
One study of people receiving treatment for porn addiction found that eight 1.5-hour ACT sessions reduced porn viewing by 85%. This change remained consistent over a three-month period.
Couples Counseling for Sex Problems or Sex Addiction
One of the negative effects of pornography addiction is conflict with your partner. It may result in fights if watching porn is not your partner’s thing. Some individuals even find it insulting and consider it an emotional form of cheating.
Similarly, porn may affect the sexual performance of those who simultaneously watch it and masturbate. In most cases, there’s diminished sexual interest, complete loss of sexual desire, and reduced sexual responsiveness leading to relationship problems. More arguments might ensue in the relationship, for which counseling could help. Couples counseling is a primary intervention for partners fighting about any intimate or relationship issue.
The treatment approach for behavioral addictions involves therapy, and it’s been proven effective. But when behavioral addiction co-exists with other mental health conditions such as depression or substance abuse disorder, then medicine prescribed by a psychiatrist can be of significant help.
Certain medications control the brain chemicals linked to obsessive thoughts or actions, case in point, watching porn. A few examples are the following:
- Antidepressants are prescribed to treat depression and anxiety and help with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as well.
- Naltrexone is taken by those with substance abuse disorder. It blocks euphoric effects coming from alcohol or opioid drugs. Furthermore, naltrexone blocks the region of the brain where pleasure is triggered in addictive behaviors.
- Mood stabilizers may be be prescribed to individuals with bipolar disorder. They can also help reduce compulsive urges such as watching porn.
- Anti-androgens could be prescribed to men in order to dull the effects of androgens, one of the male sex hormones. Once the effects of androgens have become dull, this reduces the person’s sexual urge.
A Holistic Approach
Holistic treatment focuses on the entire body. It’s a physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental approach to address addictive behaviors. Traditional therapy plus complimentary treatments in combination with alternative medicine may improve a person’s overall health and wellness rather than targeting only their condition. Examples of holistic approach treatments are:
- Spiritual counseling
- Massage therapy
The main goal of holistic treatments is to encourage people with behavioral problems to take responsibility for their well-being. In time, those who are addicted to viewing porn can change their ways, resist their urges, and eventually succeed in recovering.
Many individuals find strength in talking to other people who’ve had the same experiences as they have. Having a conversation with someone you can relate to is a powerful form of emotional support. What’s more, you’ll find out how others have overcome the problems you’re currently dealing with.
That’s why counselors advise joining support groups for the sake of finding strength during the journey toward recovery. You can search for those online or ask your therapist about the best ones to sign up for.
Coping with Pornography Addiction
Other than undergoing counseling, taking medication, and participating in support groups, you can practice coping mechanisms for addiction. If watching too much porn is starting to cause sexual dysfunction and other problems, it’s time to think about changing your lifestyle and mindset. Here’s what you can do:
You have to learn to accept living without watching porn. So you won’t falter along the way, formulate a plan on how you’ll accomplish that exactly. Talk to a counselor regarding this if you have no idea where to start.
Do this by controlling your environment and steering clear of factors or circumstances that could trigger your need to watch porn. Change the settings of your computer or phone to restrict your access to pornographic sites. You can also do a digital cleanse and stay away from your mobile device altogether.
Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or partner. The longer you keep this a secret and deal with it alone, the heavier your burden will be. When you ask for encouragement and support from the people you love, it’ll be easier for you to heal and stay on track.
If your pornography addiction stems out of boredom, then get busy. Find a new hobby, learn a new skill, or do anything that keeps your mind preoccupied. As long as you’re concentrating on something else, you won’t have time to think about watching porn.
Staying physically active has many advantages. First, you can refocus your energy to improve your health. Second, the activity serves as a distraction that’ll take your mind off of porn. Lastly, at night, you’ll likely be too tired to stay up and do anything else but sleep. Of course, exercise can benefit your mental health as well.
It’s hard to confront the truth and admit that you have a behavioral problem, but you need to face reality if you’re aiming for a better life. With continued therapy and a solid commitment to change, you can completely recover from pornography addiction.
You can start questioning yourself and figure out what you’re feeling by bringing your behavioral problem to light. Your answers will then guide you to making resolutions that’ll enable you to stop watching porn excessively. This is the first step to having happier and more productive days.
Internet Pornography Addiction Complications
Online porn can bring a lot of drawbacks to your life. You may feel embarrassed and refuse to open up to anyone for fear of exposing your secret. It could come to a point where you lie about your activities or whereabouts. Not seeking help for pornography addiction may lead to problems such as:
- Affected sexual relationships leading to damaging relationships
- Poor work or school performance due to lack of concentration and thinking about porn all day
- Low sex drive because of excessive masturbation to porn
- Sexual addiction as a product of wanting to imitate scenes in pornographic videos
- Too much isolation resulting in depression and anxiety
Seek Counseling Now to Overcome Porn Addiction
Watching porn isn’t always a cause of concern. Some may only be curious, while others enjoy it with no ill effects, and that’s okay. But if it’s starting to take hold of your life and ruin your relationships, then turning to therapy is one of the most advisable ways to put a stop to this issue.
Although it’s not a medical problem or a life-threatening concern, you have to admit it’s a debilitating problem that shouldn’t be ignored. This controversial behavioral addiction can lead to worse predicaments in the future.
If you or a loved one is excessively watching porn, your first step is to schedule an appointment with Counseling Now. We’re here to guide you in not only breaking pornography addiction but also achieving lasting mental wellness. Reach out to us today, and allow our seasoned therapists to listen to and address your concerns.