February 22, 2022

Porn Addiction (What it is and How to Overcome It)

by Psych Times Staff

Pornography consumption is a common pastime for men and women alike. While it can be helpful for sexual education and exploration benefits, there’s a point where it can become problematic.

When cravings and compulsions to consume pornographic content begin to take over other life interests, it could indicate porn addiction. The negative impact porn addiction can have on a person’s life can hinder several areas, including their school, work, and social interactions.

In this article, we’ll discuss what porn addiction is, the symptoms of porn addiction, and how to overcome it.

What is Porn Addiction?

Porn addiction is defined as the compulsive need to view pornography, regardless of the consequences of one’s behavior. Unlike an acute interest in watching porn, porn addiction is characterized by these negative consequences.

For example, excessive time spent watching porn may take precedence over important things, including one’s responsibilities, relationships, career, and wellbeing.

Although it is not recognized as a true, diagnosable condition, porn addiction behaviors are problematic. The symptoms are similar to behavioral addictions like gambling addiction or internet addiction.

If a person constantly craves porn and is overtaken by their need to consume pornographic material, they may have a porn addiction.

What are the Symptoms of Porn Addiction?

While more research is needed on the adverse effects of heavy pornography consumption, most experts advise keeping porn consumption to a minimum. This is especially true for anyone who identifies with some of the following signs:

  • Watching porn in public spaces or social situations where you could be seen but hide it from your partner or family.
  • Continuing to watch porn despite the negative impact on your personal or professional life.
  • Losing track of time when watching porn and are consumed with thoughts of it even when you’re not.
  • Trying to quit watching it but haven’t succeeded yet. Getting upset when others ask you to cut back or stop.
  • Feeling guilty, ashamed, or depressed about your behaviors.

What are the Effects of Porn Addiction?

Porn addiction does not meet the definition of addiction because it does not inherently involve risk-taking. It also does not involve tolerance – the need to engage more for the same effect – or withdrawal. 

Not all experts agree on the effects of pornography; those who advocate it consider it a healthy outlet for sexual desires. While this may be true for many people, there are known effects for those who consume too much.

Here are a few common effects of porn addiction:

Daily life and functioning

It isn’t easy to maintain a daily routine and stay productive when constantly glued to your screen. Viewing or thinking of pornography in excess can inhibit your ability to focus on and complete tasks.

Not only that, but it can interfere with basic self-care needs when pornography takes priority, even on your days off. For instance, you may put it before an important appointment with your doctor or a meeting with a client.

Reduced satisfaction from sex

Porn addiction can contribute to unhealthy pressures regarding performance during sexual intercourse, which can significantly diminish one’s experience.

When pornography is not in the picture, they may perceive their sex life as less satisfying.

Anxiety and mood disorders

Experts have found links between porn addiction and anxiety disorders. A person’s hypersexuality can also contribute to mood disorders and substance abuse issues.

Effects within relationships

When porn addiction is present in a relationship, it can harm the relationship and the other person.

Research shows that men – who are more likely than women to have porn addiction – tend to be more emotionally withdrawn. Someone with porn addiction will often pull away from their partner or develop secretive habits. These behaviors tend to impair the connection and intimacy within the relationship.

Furthermore, the partner with this hypersexual disorder may also pull away physically. Their preference for porn over intimacy with their partner can seriously affect their self-esteem.

Overcoming Porn Addiction: Therapy & Coping

When pornography consumption reaches a point of excessiveness and compulsion, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. While not all psychiatric experts agree that porn addiction is a real addiction, it is still treated that way.

You can explore many different routes when seeking help overcoming porn addiction.

Therapy is one of the most effective ways to manage your thoughts and behaviors. A mental health professional – such as a therapist or counselor – can help provide therapy methods to get your hypersexuality under control.

In cases involving a romantic partner or spouse, relationship or couple’s counseling can help both parties navigate this condition.

One specific type of therapy that you may find worth exploring for porn addiction is cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT. CBT can effectively help people struggling with porn addiction learn prevention skills and prevent relapse. This is important to note, as people with porn addiction may constantly crave erotic material despite attempts to reduce these urges.

A mental health professional can help you determine the best place to start depending on your situation and preferences. However, any form of traditional talk therapy can help a person manage their habitual behaviors and the emotional and intimacy challenges they cause.

Supplemental Treatment

In addition to therapy, coping mechanisms can help people manage their unhealthy behaviors. If a compulsive need for pornography is causing problems in your life, here are a few things you can do:

Exercise

Exercise is a healthy physical outlet where you can productively channel your energy.

Avoid triggers

One of the best ways to avoid acting on your compulsions is to stay away from them in your environment. This means updating settings on your devices that restrict you or make it harder to view pornography.

That said, you don’t have to quit cold turkey – progress is key.

If you notice that one of your triggers is simply being unbusy or bored, find distractions that keep you engaging.

Create goals

As behavioral changes are key to porn addiction recovery, setting goals to strive for can help you manage your behaviors.

Talk to someone you trust

Confiding in a trusted partner or friend outside of therapy can give you the extra support and encouragement you need.

Final Thoughts on Overcoming Porn Addiction

While it may be uncomfortable and challenging to acknowledge issues surrounding your behaviors and thoughts, it is a necessary first step. You can recover from porn addiction with the right treatment and support.

For more information and help to find qualified therapists, the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) website has an online locator tool that can help you find help in your area.


Psych Times Staff

At Psych Times, we strive to help increase the awareness of mental health, to reduce the stigma of mental illness, and to provide our readers with high-quality content to help them cope with the stresses of everyday life.

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