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dangers of porn addiction

Pornography is becoming increasingly accessible. From free websites to subscription services, porn is available seemingly anytime and anywhere. With this kind of accessibility, watching porn can become addicting, which can be debilitating.

From affecting relationships to causing financial strain, porn addiction can be detrimental to a person’s mental and physical health. So, what are the dangers of porn addiction, and how can you get help

What is Pornography Addiction?

A growing number of people report experiencing an addiction to porn, with an estimated 5-8% of the population addicted. A porn addiction is a compulsive need to view pornographic content or material to the point that it interferes with a person’s daily life. It is a compulsive sexual behavior, like sex addiction, and people can’t quit, even if they try. 

Recognizing that you might have a porn addiction can be frightening, but self-awareness is the first step to recovery. It’s important to reflect on how porn affects your everyday life to recognize the dangers of porn addiction and the need for healing. 

Symptoms of porn addiction include if you:

  • Can’t Stop Watching. You act on the compulsive urge to watch porn, despite trying to stop. It becomes a central part of your life and replaces activities you usually enjoy.
  • Always Want More. You may experience a craving or “need” to watch porn and feel frustrated when you can’t. Your need may increase over time, requiring more explicit porn or excessive use.
  • Feel Guilty. Watching porn can cause shameful or guilty thoughts. You may hide watching porn from loved ones and become irritable or angry when confronted about it. 
  • Stop Taking Care of Yourself. When watching porn becomes your primary focus, you may neglect regular hygiene, daily tasks, or responsibilities. 
  • Lose Time. When stuck in a porn addiction, it can be easy to lose track of time and become lethargic. It’s difficult to take an interest in other activities or find the motivation to accomplish anything. 
  • Struggle with Relationships. A porn addiction can cause a rift in relationships, especially if kept a secret. It can lead to a reduction in intimacy and self-esteem issues for you or your partner. It also can cause you to want to spend more time on porn than with friends and loved ones.
  • Lose Interest in Sex. Watching porn consistently can give you unrealistic expectations of beauty or sex, which can cause you to lose attraction to your partner or expect more than your partner may be able to provide.
  • Lose Money. Money can get bigger, better, and more porn. Over time, this can add up and leave less for daily necessities or bills. You may also have problems at work if your addiction consumes your work hours.

Causes of Porn Addiction

Consuming porn doesn’t always lead to addiction. Excessive use or an inability to stop indicates your porn watching has become problematic. 

Watching porn usually starts in adolescence as young people experience urges and curiosity. Consuming porn at a young age can impact teens’ perceptions of sex and dopamine behaviors. If a frequent and consistent habit builds over time, it can have difficult consequences.

Like most addictions, there is not always a singular contributor to porn addiction, but unresolved trauma is the most common cause. People use pornography to deal with adverse feelings resulting from past trauma. Then, before they know it, they’ve turned to pornography to feel better so often that it’s an addiction. They can’t stop.

Some people might be more susceptible to addiction due to genetics, environment, excessive stress, or mental health issues. Similar to drug use, first-time porn watchers may experience a “high” or arousal that keeps them returning for more. Continued use increases a person’s tolerance, causing them to need increased content or more explicit porn to feel satisfied. The Dangers of Porn Addiction and How to Get Help 2

Why Porn Addiction is Dangerous

Excessive consumption of porn can affect your daily life, relationships, and mental health. Porn use changes the brain. Continuous stimulus from porn hijacks the brain’s reward system and overly produces dopamine for extended periods. In turn, it can be difficult for the brain to produce dopamine naturally. 

Research has shown a reduced frontal cortex due to porn addiction, affecting brain functions like willpower and control. It can even cause changes in the brain’s shape, size, and chemical imbalance. Porn users have also reported noticeable changes in their everyday mood and higher rates of depression and anxiety.

Porn addiction doesn’t just cause chemical changes. Excessive porn use can cause difficulty experiencing normal arousal and lead to sexual dysfunction, sexual frustration, or violence. Researchers attribute this violence to neurons mirroring each other when perceiving violence in porn. 

Because of the widespread availability of porn, it can be difficult to escape it. Secret browsers make staying discrete easy, aiding compulsory behavior. 

Ways to Try Controlling Porn Use

Overcoming a porn addiction is possible. You can do some things on your own to curb your addiction. But to truly recover, you’ll likely need professional mental health support to uncover and treat the cause of the addiction, then learn to alter the behaviors. 

Methods of managing porn use include:

  • Remove Access. Remove all electronic porn and bookmarks from your devices. If it’s no longer at your fingertips, it’s less likely to become your default habit. Have someone install anti-porn software on your computer. You can’t access it if your devices don’t allow it. Asking someone else to install it will help with accountability.
    • Pre-Plan Activities. If you know you will experience the urge, find a replacement. By planning stimulating activities you enjoy, you can trick your brain into replacing the feeling of watching porn. 
    • Avoid Triggers. Know what your triggers are and avoid them. Reflect on your habits and when you feel most tempted. Stay away from images, places, or feelings likely to make you crave porn.
    • Control Use of Devices. Use your devices, like your cell phone or laptop, in public places. It’s more difficult to be discreet in front of others. Hold yourself accountable, and don’t let your device use become private.
    • Seek Support. Find an accountability partner. Confide in a trusted friend and ask for help. You’re more likely to stick to your goal if someone else encourages you.
    • Practice Self-Reflection. Self-reflect through journaling. Keep track of your setbacks, reminders, and patterns in your behavior. Celebrate the wins you have each day.
  • Get Professional Help. While you may be able to control some behaviors, you’re unlikely to recover from porn addiction on your own. Get professional help to identify the cause of your addiction and stop adverse coping behaviors.

Getting Help for Porn Addiction

You may have tried unsuccessfully to control your porn use. Talking to a trusted friend or family member can help you cross the first hurdle.

Ed Tilton, Regional Director of Integrative Life Network, said honesty is the first step in recovery from porn addiction. He said you must be honest about how the addiction affects you and the people you love. Then you have to commit to recovery.

“The lies we tell ourselves often become the strongest delusions and hardest behaviors to change,” he said. “Through honesty, you start acknowledging the desire for change and become committed to altering sobriety.”

Once you decide to seek help for porn addiction, you can:

  • Consult your doctor or a mental health professional for treatment
  • Talk to people you trust
  • Learn more about porn addiction
  • Join support groups

The effects of porn addiction can be devastating to your well-being. Rebuilding relationships and your mental health takes time, but you don’t have to do it alone. Entering a treatment program designed to treat those suffering from sex addiction or porn addiction can help address the root of the behavior and start the road to recovery. 

Help is Out There

Begin Again Institute has a proven track record utilizing TINSA® (Trauma-Induced Sexual Addiction), a new perspective for treating sexual addiction. By treating the root of addiction rather than the symptoms, we can break through to core issues. 

We are passionate about making recovery feasible for your life. Contact us today to start your journey to recovery.

  • Category: Pornography Addiction
  • By Begin Again Institute
  • December 7, 2022

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