Has Your Porn Use Become an Addiction?—How to Tell

With the advent of the internet and smartphones, we’ve all become subjects in a global social experiment. For the first time ever, extreme pornography is easily accessible for free to the majority of people. Pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry, and there are alarming statistics that demonstrate how widespread its use is. For example, about 85 percent of males between 14 and 18 years old regularly consume porn on their phones.

Such chronic, long-term consumption can have negative effects on a person’s brain. What starts as a curious peak can transform into an uncontrollable addiction. Or is it a compulsion?

Compulsion or Addiction?

Internet porn can impact the human brain in a similar way that substance abuse does. While overusing pornography is not yet technically considered an addiction, it shares many of the qualities of serious behavioral addictions. So, whether you label this an addiction or compulsion, both concepts involve a loss of control and agency. They reward certain behaviors. In the cases of pornography, the rewards include arousal and orgasm. Therein lies the hook.

Has Your Porn Use Become an Addiction?—How to Tell

The hallmark signs involve an inability to stop that morphs into a perceived need for more. You recognize that your porn habit is excessive, so you try to curtail it — with no luck. When you abstain, you miss the “high” you felt from watching the videos. As you drift back into porn use, you may experience more cravings. These drive you to want more, even if it means you have to lie to others about it. From there, you may begin noticing what this habit is causing you to lose. Some of these losses may include:

Time

Major chunks of your day are eaten up when viewing porn. This has side effects like neglecting responsibility, not taking good care of yourself, and losing interest in any activity except consuming pornography.

Real Sex

A porn addiction can slowly erase your interest in real-life sexual interactions. This manifests in many ways. For example:

  • You cultivate very unrealistic — and often anti-social — perspectives on sex
  • You’re demanding of your partners and expect them to also watch porn and/or act out what is being portrayed 
  • Your partner may suddenly seem unattractive and boring to you — leading you to reject their advances
  • If you do have real sex, you may have a hard time getting aroused and may want to have porn playing during the encounter

Focus and Concentration 

Like any compulsion or behavioral addiction, porn can consume your attention. You’re distracted from the people and responsibilities in your life. You recognize these disruptions but cannot stop or won’t even try. 

Peace of Mind

Being controlled by increasingly extreme porn is something that causes shame, guilt, and anger. In the throes of the addiction, you may lash out or feel upset at anyone who points out the problem or interrupts your access to porn.

What Can You Do On Your Own?

  • Delete videos from your devices and hard-copy porn from your life
  • Ask someone to install porn blocks on your devices but not tell you the passwords
  • Identify triggers and learn how to avoid/manage them
  • Create a plan for when the urge strikes, e.g., alternative activities, calling a supportive friend, etc.
  • Ask someone to hold you accountable 

If you need more help, there’s good news. More help is definitely available.

Where Can You Find Help?

Support groups are easy to find and can offer solace in the reality that you are not alone. Also, of course, therapy is a proven path for addressing the urges and compulsions — and getting to the root causes. Don’t suffer in silence. We’re here to talk and provide support.

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