Many people suffer from porn addiction and are not getting the help they need due to the social stigma attached to porn in general. Porn addiction is a common issue where treatment is possible. If you are concerned about yourself or the wellbeing of someone you care about due to porn addiction, you can call our admissions team to arrange your free addiction assessment, and they will be able to advise you on the next steps. 

Can Porn Really be an Addiction?

As with any behavioural or process addiction, when an individual experiences an uncontrollable compulsion to participate in an activity, in this instance viewing porn, it can be just as problematic for some people as other behavioural addictions like gambling. Since it is such a taboo topic to discuss it can be difficult to ask for help and to talk about how someone’s porn addiction may be affecting them.

What is a Behavioural Addiction?

Addiction is more than just an intense interest in something. It is a medical condition that causes changes in the brain and body, which means you feel compelled to continue using a substance or partaking in a particular activity, even when doing so may cause harm. Addiction is no longer solely focused on the abuse of substances, such as drugs and alcohol. As we continue to learn more about addiction, society and the medical community now recognise that behaviours, as well as substances, can be addictive. 

Behaviours acted out in a compulsive manner are commonly referred to as a behavioural or process addiction. Behavioural addictions are often seen in people who may also struggle with alcohol or drug abuse, however, a process addiction can occur in and of itself. 

When Does Porn Use Become an Addiction?

Your initial use of a substance or participation in behaviour results in an intense rush of dopamine, causing feelings of pleasure and reward. Over time, your body may produce less dopamine and rely on the substance or behaviour, in this case, porn, to feel the same ‘rush’. Viewing pornography may activate the dopamine system, potentially leading to addiction. Addiction affects other aspects of the brain as well, steadily changing it, and making it increasingly difficult for you to avoid the addictive substance or behaviour.

Signs and Symptoms

All forms of addiction can have devastatingly severe consequences. You may begin to have an increased focus on a specific behaviour, for example, exercise, at the expense of other elements of your life such as relationships, work, hobbies and school. You even run the risk of developing health problems,  financial loss, experiencing changes in appetite and/or sleep pattern, and beginning to exhibit increasingly volatile behaviour. Often this behaviour seems completely out of character to friends and loved ones. While there are common traits to look out for, the signs and symptoms are all rather similar, but the symptoms of one person’s addiction can sometimes vary from another’s.  

Signs of Porn Addiction

Simply viewing or enjoying porn doesn’t make you addicted to it. Porn addiction often involves an inability to stop the behaviour despite negative consequences.

Your viewing habits may be a cause for concern if:

  • Your time watching porn is increasing
  • You feel as though you need to watch porn to feel a rush or high 
  • You feel guilty about the consequences of viewing porn
  • You are spending many hours online looking at porn sites
  • Responsibilities are being neglected
  • Personal hygiene such as washing, sleeping, and eating are being neglected
  • You insist that your romantic or sexual partner views porn or acts out porn fantasies even though they don’t want to
  • You are unable to enjoy sex without first viewing porn
  • You are unable to resist porn even though it’s disrupting your life

Other signs and consequences of porn addiction include:

  • Denial – denying you watch porn or watch too much porn despite knowing you do
  • Lying/deceitfulness – lying about watching porn
  • Manipulative behaviour
  • Isolating – withdrawing from social interaction with friends and family so you can watch porn
  • Health problems (injury or disease) – neglecting your diet, your fitness and self-care because you are watching too much porn
  • Financial debt – spending money on porn
  • Sleep deprivation – staying awake late every night to watch porn
  • Loss of appetite
  • Inability to focus on other aspects of your life 
  • Missed work/school 
  • Relationship issues 
  • Loss of interest in your partner and sex
  • Increased avoidance – of others and of your responsibilities
  • Inability to take responsibility
  • Aggressive behaviour – you feel aggressive, agitated and angry when others criticise the amount of porn you watch; you feel aggressive when you can’t watch porn because you have to do something else
  • Suicidal ideation.

One of the most common signs of porn addiction is intense denial. In the face of clear evidence, an individual will often reject any suggestion that they need help, even if they recognise they may have a severe problem. 

What are the Treatment Options for Porn Addiction?

If you believe you, or someone you love, is suffering from an addiction, you should seek help before the issue escalates. Our team at CATCH Recovery can help. 

All treatment options will depend on how porn is impacting your life. One of our addiction counsellors may recommend individual, group, and/or family counselling. Counselling sessions can help you understand what caused the compulsion in the first place. 

Treating the psychological aspects of addiction will provide you with the tools you need to maintain long-term sobriety. Psychological dependence is the term used to describe the emotional and mental components of substance use disorder. This is usually characterised by strong cravings for a particular substance or behaviour and the inability to function without it. 

CATCH Recovery uses evidence-based treatments such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), grief and trauma therapy, one-to-one counselling sessions, group therapy and online therapy. We also follow the 12-step recovery programme which is extremely beneficial in treating behavioural addictions. Your therapist can help you develop effective coping mechanisms to change your relationship with pornographic materials. 

Our outpatient clinic is based in South West London, which is accessible from anywhere in the UK. If you need support but don’t live in the South East of England, you may benefit from the tele-health services we offer. If you require residential rehab, we also provide referrals to rehabs in the UK and Ireland. Call us today to discuss the different options that are available.