Boulder Recovery Blog

You decided to quit porn for good this time. You went cold turkey, and now a few days or weeks later, you feel awful. You’re tired, irritable, and feel like you’re in a fog. You’re experiencing porn addiction withdrawal. 

Yes, porn can be as addictive as alcohol or drugs. Meaning, when you stop using pornography, you experience some of the same withdrawal symptoms of people who stop using substances. 

By understanding porn addiction and its withdrawal, you can better prepare for recovery. 

At Boulder Recovery, we specialize in helping men overcome the unresolved trauma driving their addiction. Dealing with the trauma helps restore authentic connections with themselves, their families, and God. 

What are the Symptoms of Porn Addiction Withdrawal? 

If you stopped using pornography and notice any of the following symptoms, you may be experiencing porn addiction withdrawal.

Physical Symptoms

Have you noticed any changes in the way your body feels? For example, does it feel similar to how you feel when you’re sick with a virus? 

Physical symptoms of porn addiction withdrawal include:

  • Difficulty sleeping 
  • Headaches
  • Body aches or stiffness in muscles and joints
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Decreased or non-existent sex drive

Mental and Emotional Symptoms

Does it feel like you’re living in a fog, or do you find yourself irritated with everyone around you? These are just some ways porn addiction withdrawal can impact your mood. 

Other mental and emotional symptoms of porn addiction withdrawal include:

  • Depression and sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability or agitation
  • Mood swings
  • Inability to focus
  • Feelings of frustration and annoyance
  • Avoiding socializing
  • Intense sexual urges or cravings
  • Flashbacks or dreams about pornography

A man sitting with his head in his hands while a therapist is in the foreground

Why am I Experiencing Withdrawal from Pornography?

If you’re experiencing the symptoms of porn addiction withdrawal, you may be wondering how it happened. How could not watching videos or looking at pictures cause such an intense physical and mental reaction? 

To understand why your body is reacting this way, you need to understand the science behind addiction. 

When you watch porn, your body releases dopamine. Dopamine is the “feel good” neurochemical. When you do something pleasurable, the brain activates its reward system by releasing dopamine. Dopamine causes your mood to improve and makes you feel sensations of pleasure and satisfaction. 

Dopamine is also the reason you have a craving to do pleasurable activities again. Dopamine makes you feel great. Your brain remembers what you were doing that caused the dopamine spike. Then it encourages you to repeat the activity. 

Unfortunately, the dopamine reward system is ill-suited for the abundance of stimuli just a click away. Overuse of pornography can lead to dopamine dysregulation, where you become desensitized to stimuli. Men who struggle with pornography addiction find they have to search for more intense videos to get the same satisfaction. Dopamine dysregulation drives desensitization and escalating viewing habits. 

What Treatments are Available for Pornography Addiction?

Help for pornography addiction is available. Recovery often starts by separating shame from the behavior. Dealing with shame is particularly important for Christian men seeking treatment for pornography addiction. Guilt says, “I did something bad.” Shame says “I am bad.” Increased levels of shame can actually lead to increased porn use. This is due to the release of adrenaline related to risky or shame inducing behaviors. This increased adrenaline can make the “high” of porn use more powerful and thus more addictive.     

We frequently get asked, “is watching porn a sin?” In short, yes, pornography is sinful, but addiction is an illness. 

We’ve compared pornography with alcohol or drug addiction, but each of those comes with moral baggage. So let’s take a more neutral example of addiction. If you drink a couple of cups of coffee each morning, you’ll probably have a hard time kicking that habit. The first day you skip your morning cup, you’ll likely end up with a headache. In essence, you’ve trained your body to expect a caffeine boost each morning. If you don’t get it, you start to go into withdrawal. 

The same is true of pornography. Frequent porn use trains your body to expect a dopamine hit, and you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms without it. 

Getting Help for Pornography Addiction

Part of our 14-Day program is helping men understand the addiction and how their body responds to pornography. Through our clinical practice, we’ve witnessed the addictive nature of pornography firsthand. The withdrawal symptoms are brutal. Men shouldn’t feel shame about asking for help in stopping pornography. Part of the reason quitting pornography is so challenging is the biochemical process. 

Our treatment program combines addiction science with the latest research on trauma-induced sexual addiction. Dopamine is only one piece of the puzzle. Pornography use is rampant among men, but not all men struggle with addiction. Experiencing neglect, abandonment, or another childhood trauma creates a need for men to cope with their emotional wounds through dopamine release. In other words, experiencing trauma as a child makes a man more susceptible to pornography addiction. 

To recover from addiction, these men have to work through their unresolved trauma. Therefore, each program participant receives personalized treatment with a clinically-trained therapist to address the emotional scars driving their addiction. 

Support for Porn Addiction Withdrawal

You don’t have to experience pornography withdrawal alone. If you’ve tried quitting in the past and couldn’t make it because of the withdrawal symptoms, you can try again with the right support team. Our 14-Day Intensive is a live-in program, so you receive support 24 hours a day. Change is difficult, but restoring your authentic self is possible. 

 

  • Category: Addiction
  • By Lawrence Buddoo
  • June 9, 2021

Inquire About our Intestive Programs

Let's talk! Complete the information below and one of admission specialists will reach out.







    Please prove you are human by selecting the Tree.