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How to Tell If You’re Addicted to Porn

Everyone watches porn from time to time, right? But what separates those who have porn addiction from everyone else? 

There’s no test you can take or clear-cut answers available online. It’s a frustrating experience. 

All you want to know is whether you’re addicted to pornography and what that means for your life. 

What is Porn Addiction?

Porn addiction is when you rely on porn and masturbation to self-soothe in times of stress. You use porn to help you calm down and regain your sense of control.

What separates a habit from an addiction is whether a person can stop the behavior. A person with addiction tries to stop but can’t. 

Those with a pornography addiction know that their habits are harmful to their well-being. But despite repeated attempts to stop, it’s always unsuccessful. 

Ed Tilton, Regional Director of Integrative Life Network, further clarified, “You don’t feel like you have control of your actions and can’t stop, even though you want to. Then you feel immense shame because of your addiction and inability to control it.”

The shame of sex addiction causes many people to pull away from loved ones and hide their behaviors.

Why is Porn Addictive?

Porn is addictive for many reasons. But it all boils down to the fact that it’s cheap, readily accessible, and you can consume it seemingly privately. 

It’s like an invisible crutch that becomes part of life. Porn is a constant source of dopamine to help regulate negative emotions. 

Once a person uses porn to self-soothe, it can become a go-to source of dopamine, the pleasure chemical your brain produces. This cycle follows the same patterns as gambling and alcohol consumption. Essentially it breaks down to:

Stress + watching porn and masturbation = dopamine. 

Each time a person repeats the cycle, the brain learns that porn is there to help. Therefore, it becomes an automatic reaction to life’s stressors. 

Unfortunately, the more porn you consume, the more you’ll want and need to get the same positive feelings.  How to Tell If You’re Addicted to Porn 2

How Common is Porn Addiction?

Because watching porn is essentially an anonymous habit, getting accurate statistics isn’t easy. An estimated 5-8% of the world’s population has a porn addiction. That equates to roughly 200,000 adults in the U.S. alone. 

But those statistics rely on self-reported porn consumption and reports from pornography websites. It’s challenging to get valid numbers based on limited information and when relying on people to admit their problems. 

Most likely, there are far more people with sex and pornography addictions.

How to Tell if You’re Addicted to Porn

If you’re concerned about your porn consumption habits and want to know if you have an addiction, there are signs you can look for. Aside from being unable to control porn viewership, people with porn addictions have other commonalities.

Keeping Secrets

Watching porn can quickly become a habit, but it isn’t one people discuss. Over time, it may feel like you are hiding a large part of your life from those you love. You may even start to describe yourself as “anti-social” because you’d rather spend time with porn than people. It’s probably a reason for concern if you’re pulling away from other people and lying to keep your habit a secret.

Unrealistic Expectations

Life isn’t like the movies, even pornographic ones. Porn viewing creates unrealistic expectations of real-life sexual encounters. So, watching porn can make you uninterested or dissatisfied with sex. It can even cause you to lose attraction to your partner.

Sexual Dysfunction

Watching porn causes dopamine dysregulation. Essentially, porn causes your brain to make more dopamine than it can handle. This dysregulation can cause your brain to shut down dopamine receptors. This shutdown makes you less receptive to sexual stimulation over time. Therefore, as a result, you start to experience sexual symptoms like erectile dysfunction and delayed ejaculation.

Increasingly Consuming

Watching porn feels good and helps you relieve anxiety and stress. It seems like an innocent enough outlet, but it consumes your thoughts over time. Pretty soon, you find yourself focused on when you can watch porn again and may even do so in inappropriate places like at work. It starts to feel like all you think about and do.

Feeling Guilt and Shame

A sign that you’re addicted to pornography is an ever-increasing sense of guilt and shame. 

“Having immense shame surrounding your behavior is a good indicator that you’re living with an addiction,” Ed said.

Each time you watch porn, you get excited but feel ashamed of yourself when it’s over. You feel like you’ve let yourself and those around you down. You feel out of control of your sexual behaviors and overwhelmed. You may even start questioning whether you’re a good person because of the behavior.

Ignoring Negative Consequences

You may be addicted to porn if you ignore the negative consequences of your behavior or justify them. 

You may pretend your addiction isn’t affecting you or your loved ones, even as you withdraw and live with emotional health issues. 

You may jeopardize your job or your financial well-being or even deal with physical ailments due to the addiction. 

Regardless of the specific consequences, you may have a problem if you can’t quit porn, but are unwilling to admit it’s a problem.

Stopping Pornography Addiction

Once you determine that you may have a problem with pornography, then what? What’s the next step?

“The critical first step in stopping pornography addiction is being honest with yourself,” Ed stated. 

He said, “This includes being honest about your behaviors and their consequences.”

Keep a log of your sexual behaviors and hold yourself accountable. Note how much time and money your porn habits take up in your life. This tracking will help you be honest with yourself about your addiction. 

“Once you can be honest with yourself, you’re more likely to be honest with others,” Ed said. “That’s when real change can begin.”

When you’re ready to accept that you have a problem, then It’s time to commit to recovery. You’ll need to seek professional help for the addiction and its root cause. You’ll also want to find a support group that can help you through recovery. 

Seeking Professional Support for Porn Addiction

Porn addiction takes over your life. You can regain control if you commit to recovery. 

At Begin Again Institute, we offer a 14-Day Men’s Intensive to treat sex and pornography addiction and other intimacy disorders. You’re removed from your triggering atmosphere so you can jump-start your porn addiction treatment in a caring, supportive environment. 

Contact us now if you’re ready to commit to living a sober life. 

  • Category: Pornography Addiction
  • By Begin Again Institute
  • November 24, 2022

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