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How to Stop Watching Porn

Close up photo of a man sitting looking focused holding a mobile phone

Pornography addiction affects people of all different backgrounds and can severely impact your daily life. People who want to stop watching porn may face challenges because pornography is widely available and often considered acceptable. 

With the compassionate support of the Begin Again Institute, you can learn how to stop watching porn, break the addictive cycle, and work toward a better life in recovery.

Understanding Pornography Addiction

Compulsive use of pornography is an addiction not unlike the addictions people face with alcohol, gambling, or substances. It shares all the same hallmarks of other types of addiction, including:

  • Compulsively seeking out addictive behavior
  • Multiple failed attempts to cut down or stop watching porn
  • Growing a tolerance to pornographic material and needing more extreme images to get the same feelings
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities outside of pornography
  • A feeling of dependency on pornography
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when pornography use suddenly stops 

Pornography addiction affects the brain’s reward system. Viewing pornography provides a spike in dopamine — the brain’s primary reward chemical. When dopamine levels spike, it encourages people to repeat the behavior.

So why do people seek out dopamine? Porn addiction typically stems from unresolved trauma. Something happened to you, and your body and mind responded by searching for a way to feel better. Pornography and dopamine filled that need, and before you knew it, an addiction developed.

If left untreated, pornography addiction can cause devastation in your relationships, work, and mental health. But you can learn how to stop watching porn and achieve recovery by reaching out to the Begin Again Institute.

The Impact on Relationships and Personal Life

One of the most devastating aspects of pornography addiction is how it can harm your relationships and interpersonal life. Among other challenges, pornography addiction can lead to:

  • Reduced intimacy with your partner
  • Creating a lack of trust
  • Distorted perceptions of sexual intimacy
  • Poor communication
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Interpersonal conflict

All of these results vastly reduced the quality of life of people living with a pornography addiction. Learning how to stop watching porn is the first step, but it often takes substantial self-work and professional help to achieve a strong and lasting recovery.

How to Stop Watching Porn: Strategies to Break the Pattern

Breaking the pattern of watching pornography isn’t easy, but it is possible. Learning how to stop watching porn is a process, and it doesn’t always happen immediately. But if you follow the strategies listed below, you’ll be on the right path to a better life in recovery.

Accepting the Problem

The first step in addiction recovery is understanding and truly accepting that you have a problem. Without being able to recognize porn addiction, you’ll never achieve the mindset required to break free from the pattern once and for all.

“The best way to start winning the battle with porn addiction is to start being honest with yourself,” said Ed Tilton, President of Begin Again Institute. “Start to be honest with your behaviors as it relates to cravings and about the consequences of the addiction. 

“The lies that we tell ourselves often become the strongest delusions and hardest behaviors to change. Once we are able to find honesty with ourselves, we are more likely to start to be honest with others. Through that honesty, we start to acknowledge a desire for change and a new freedom in how we see choice.” 

Take a moment to recognize how porn is negatively impacting your life, and acknowledge that your porn use has become an addiction.

Setting Goals for Recovery

The next step is outlining your personal recovery plan. What do you hope to achieve from learning how to stop watching porn? Breaking free from the addiction itself is a common goal, but it typically isn’t the only goal. Do you want to improve your relationships? Achieve better mental health? Regain lost motivation or productivity?

Outline your goals for recovery and what it means to you. Planning for your success is critical to finding the strategies and treatments that could work best for you.

Avoiding Triggers

Like all other addictions, a pornography addiction often has a number of different triggers and situations that lead to the behavior and could lead to relapse. By working to identify the situations which lead to porn viewing and taking steps to avoid them, you’ll help protect yourself from the behavior you’re attempting to avoid.

Finding Healthy Alternatives

The fact of the matter is that most people use pornography for a purpose. For some, it’s a means of preventing boredom. For others, it can become a crutch for avoiding your challenges in life. Whatever the case may be, finding healthier and more productive alternatives gives you the outlet you need to achieve recovery.

Healthy alternatives to viewing porn may include:

  • Sports
  • Exercise
  • Reading
  • Spending time with friends or family
  • Meditation
  • Prayer
  • Exploring the great outdoors

Whatever your alternative is, set aside time each week to engage in other dopamine-producing activities that you enjoy. Make them your new habit.

Expect the Struggle — Get Support

As effective as the strategies above may be, they don’t always account for the struggles that people face when learning how to stop watching porn. Recovery is a journey. You should expect to face setbacks, temptations, and difficulties on the path to recovery.

Seeking support from friends, family members, or mental health professionals is often the best method for dealing with these challenges. Structured support systems, such as group therapy, support groups, or check-in buddies, can all be vital components to your long-term success.

The fact is that you don’t need to try going it alone. Having a support system can help you overcome the roadblocks on the path to recovery, assist you in meeting your goals, and keep you accountable to your ideals.

“Recovery is a lifetime process,” said Matt Wenger, Clinical Director at Begin Again Institute. “The best steps to take to avoid relapse are to engage in ongoing trauma therapy, maintain a rigorous recovery program, engage in authentic and supportive communities of other recovering addicts, and live a life of transparency.”

Seeking professional mental health support is an effective, private way to conquer a pornography addiction. Programs like Begin Again Institute’s 14-day intensive can help jumpstart your recovery.

Dealing With Underlying Issues

A commonly overlooked aspect of learning how to stop watching porn is addressing any underlying mental health concerns. In other words, people attempt to stop the negative behavior without addressing what caused it in the first place.

People living with porn addiction often have other mental health concerns like:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Emotional trauma

Any one of these underlying concerns can directly feed into a porn addiction or lead you to turn to pornography to feel better. Yet this pattern quickly leads to a worsening of both conditions and leaves you feeling worse than ever.

People who have survived trauma often feel as though they are left constantly on guard, and the surge of dopamine from pornography use can alleviate this feeling. It temporarily calms the fight or flight response, only to return in greater measure after the fact.

At Begin Again Institute, our trauma-informed approach teaches you not only how to stop watching porn but how to achieve emotional well-being. This often means working one-on-one with a therapist or finding mental health support that can help you on the path to recovery.

Taking Action and Moving Forward

Learning how to stop watching porn isn’t easy. But when porn addiction runs out of control, it can lead to devastating consequences throughout your life. There is a path to recovery with pornography addiction treatment at Begin Again Institute. Contact us today to get started.

  • Category: Addiction
  • By Begin Again Institute
  • March 15, 2024

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