In today’s digital age, it has become easier than ever to access pornography. Virtually anyone with an electronic device with a stable Wi-Fi connection can gain free and immediate access to pornographic material. And with that ease of access comes the increased risk for addiction.

Porn addiction, despite ongoing debate, is a serious issue. Those affected by it typically feel lost and powerless to control their reality and that their lives have become unmanageable. However, recovery from porn addiction is certainly possible.

By understanding the warning signs, causes and addictive factors contributing to pornography use, one may develop a path toward renewed mental well-being and recovery from addiction to pornography.

Is Porn Addiction Real?

Yes. And no.

The truth is, porn addiction is still a heavily debated topic among researchers. While the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) does not officially recognize porn addiction as a psychological condition, viewing pornography can still become an addictive behavior in the category of process addictions.

Furthermore, despite pornography addiction not being included in the DSM-5, treatment options are still available.

What is Porn Addiction?

Porn addiction is a type of sex addiction characterized by a person’s inability to control their consumption of pornography. It is characterized by a compulsive and excessive need to view sexually explicit materials.

While some individuals feel that pornography consumption can be a healthy part of one’s sexual life, it is when it consumes one’s time, energy, resources, and focus that it becomes damaging. Porn addiction leads to negative consequences in various areas of a person’s life, including relationships, career, finances and overall mental and physical health.

Like other addictions, porn addiction can create a cycle of dependency where, over time, the person may require more explicit and extreme material to experience the same level of arousal.

Porn Addiction Signs

Often, it can be difficult to draw the line and recognize how much porn is “too much”. Signs of porn addiction include:

  • Failed attempts to quit
  • Emotional distress, including feelings of shame, guilt of depression after watching pornography
  • Constant thinking about or planning when or how to view pornography
  • Neglecting personal responsibilities and obligations to view pornography instead
  • Choosing to neglect personal hygiene and health over viewing pornography
  • Experiencing irritability, restlessness or mood swings when attempting to reduce or stop pornography consumption
  • Escalating pornography consumption in terms of frequency, duration, and / or intensity to achieve the same level of arousal
  • Loss of interest in other activities
  • Excessive time spent viewing, obtaining, sending, or cataloging pornographic materials
  • Difficulty controlling porn consumption / compulsive porn consumption
  • Increased isolation
  • Hiding or lying about one’s behavior
  • Decreased self-esteem due to addiction

Porn Addiction Causes

There can be several causes of porn addiction.

For some, porn use starts at a young age sometimes out of curiosity, peer pressure, or exposure to a family member’s stash of pornography. Early exposure often makes it difficult for a person to appropriately self-regulate and can lead to increasing problematic sexual behavior in adulthood.

For others, growing up in religious or cultural environments that condemn sex as immoral can lead to distorted views of acceptable sexual behavior.

Pornography addiction can also be caused by trauma or other mental health issues. Porn consumption may be used as an unhealthy trauma response or coping mechanism. It may feel like the only safe way to deal with the difficult emotions caused by trauma or other distressing emotions such as shame, guilt and low self-esteem.

Why Is Pornography Addictive?

There are several reasons as to why pornography can be so addictive.

One key factor in porn addiction involves the way it affects our brain. When a person views sexually explicit content, it triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. The dopamine release reinforces the sexual behavior, making the person crave it more and creating a cycle of pornographic consumption.

Furthermore, in an age in which sexually explicit material can be easily and anonymously accessed online, pornographic consumption is more tempting than ever. Whereas in the past there were more barriers to accessing porn (such as availability and costs), now it is even more difficult to resist. As a result, it is easy for pornography consumption to become a compulsive habit.

How to Stop Porn Addiction

While recovery from porn addiction can be a challenging process, it is not impossible and the benefits of recovery are numerous.  Here are some resources that can help people on their journey to recovery.

Porn Addiction Therapy

Therapy is a crucial component of recovery from porn addiction. Pornography addiction treatment can help people identify the root causes of their addiction and develop coping mechanisms to overcome it. Certified sex addiction therapists (CSATs) can provide specialized and individualized counseling that addresses the person’s unique challenges, history, and needs.

Common treatment options for porn addictions include:

Support Groups

Support / 12 Step groups, such as Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA), Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) to name just a few, provide a safe and supportive environment for people struggling with porn addiction. These groups provide a sense of community and accountability, which can be beneficial in the recovery process.

Support groups help people realize that although they may feel alone or unique in their struggles, they are not. Joining support groups provides the opportunity to develop healthy friendships within a safe and understanding environment including developing a relationship with a sponsor who will provide you with a more individualized source of support and guidance during your recovery. This person can help you develop healthy coping mechanisms to avoid relapse and may act as living proof that while recovery is an ongoing process, it is indeed possible.

Recovery Is Possible

While still topic of debate among some researchers and therapists, porn addiction is a serious issue that can have a devastating  impact on a person’s life and overall well-being.

KeyStone Center ECU can provide help with pornography addiction. Located in Chester, Pennsylvania, we provide a supportive and empathetic environment for sex addiction treatment. Learn more about what KeyStone Center ECU’s treatment for sexual addiction by getting in contact with us at 833-635-6840 or by using this form.