Am I Addicted to Porn?

For most people, pornography is a quick and convenient route to sexual pleasure. Typically it is turned to when a close physical connection is either not available or not desired. Unfortunately, for some people, viewing pornography – with or without masturbation – can grow into an emotionally crippling addiction. In fact, research tells us that porn use progresses to the level of addiction in approximately 5 to 8 percent of adults who use it. For these individuals porn use escalates from a pleasurable distraction to a behavioral compulsion that creates loneliness, isolation, shame, and numerous other negative life consequences.

Most porn addicts suffer from underlying emotional or psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem. Over time they learn use sexual imagery not for pleasure, but as a way to (temporarily) dissociate from the uncomfortable feelings brought on by their underlying issues. Eventually, pornography becomes the default response for dealing with life stressors and unpleasant emotions. Drug addicts use drugs in the same way, and for the same reasons.

But how much porn is too much porn? Is there an easily defined tipping point between casual use and life-altering addiction?

As a general rule, porn addiction occurs when the individual loses choice over whether he or she will engage in that behavior. (This is a useful benchmark for all types of addiction.) When a person says "I don’t want to look at porn anymore" but does so anyway, there may be a problem. When porn use interferes with healthy, everyday activities (such as going to the grocery store, cleaning the house, interacting with friends and family, etc.), there may be a problem. Most importantly, when porn use begins to create negative life consequences (such as relationship trouble, decreased productivity at work or in school, emotional or physical health issues, etc.), there is almost certainly a problem.

Research suggests that porn addicts spend at least 11 or 12 hours per week looking at porn. (Usually most if not all of that time is spent online). Many addicts dedicate double or even triple that amount of time to pornography. Typical signs of porn addiction include:

  • Hours, sometimes even days, lost to viewing pornography
  • Escalating amounts of time spent on porn use and/or viewing progressively more extreme, intense, or bizarre sexual content
  • Continued porn use despite negative life consequences
  • Continued porn use despite promises made to self or others to stop
  • Lying, keeping secrets, and covering up the nature and extent of porn use
  • Anger or irritability if asked to stop
  • Reduced or even nonexistent interest in sexual, physical, and emotional connections with spouses or partners

Unfortunately, individuals dealing with porn addiction are often reluctant to seek help with their problem because they don’t view their solo sexual behaviors as the underlying source of their ongoing unhappiness. And when they do seek assistance, they often seek help with their addiction’s related symptoms – relationship trouble, isolation and loneliness, sexual dysfunction with real-life partners, etc. – rather than the porn problem itself. Many porn addicts attend psychotherapy for extended periods without ever discussing (or even being asked about) their porn use, leaving their core problem unresolved.

Though porn addiction is most often a symptom of underlying emotional and/or psychological issues that eventually need to be addressed in a therapeutic setting, the underlying behavioral issue (abuse of pornography) should be dealt with first. Usually the best route to recovery is counseling with a trained and licensed sexual addiction treatment therapist, coupled with or followed by group therapy and a 12-step recovery program. For many porn addicts, inpatient residential treatment or an intensive outpatient program are needed to jump-start the process. It is important to remember that even though getting help for porn addiction (or any other form of sexual addiction) can feel shameful and embarrassing, the consequences of continuing the behavior are ultimately far worse.

Change Your Life With One Call.
We've been transforming lives since 1999.
We can help you too.

844-876-7680
Free & Confidential