Similar to someone with drug or alcohol addiction, porn addicts tend to self-medicate underlying issues and emotional pain as well as replace important relationships and commitments with their “drug” of choice: pornography.

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

Porn addiction treatment must address the root causes of addiction, attend to co-occurring mental health disorders and help porn addicts eliminate compulsive behaviors and dysfunctional thought patterns through specialized therapies for sex addiction. Learn more about our porn addiction treatment program at The Ranch or call 844-876-7680.

Porn Addiction Symptoms

For some people, pornography is a quick and convenient route to sexual pleasure that is typically used when a close physical connection with another person is either not available or not desired. Unfortunately, for some people, viewing pornography – with or without masturbation – can grow into an emotionally crippling addiction.

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), and some porn addicts double or even triple that amount of time.

Porn addiction symptoms include:

  • Lying, keeping secrets, and covering up the nature and extent of porn use
  • Porn use that escalates from a pleasurable distraction to a behavioral compulsion
  • Porn use that results in loneliness, shame, isolation and other negative consequences
  • Hours or even days lost to viewing pornography
  • Continued porn use despite negative life consequences
  • Continued porn use despite promises made to self or others to stop
  • Anger or irritability if asked to stop viewing or using porn
  • Reduced or even nonexistent interest in sexual, physical and emotional connections with spouses or partners
  • Increasing amounts of time spent on porn use and/or viewing progressively more extreme, intense or bizarre sexual content

As a general rule, porn addiction occurs when an individual feels like they have no choice in their porn use. Porn use that interferes with healthy, everyday activities and responsibilities is indicative of a problem, especially when porn addiction symptoms begin to create negative life consequences (such as decreased work productivity, relationship trouble, issues at school, emotional or physical health issues, etc.).

What Causes Porn Addiction

Porn addiction is a type of intimacy disorder. Common contributors to intimacy disorders involve deep-rooted attachment, enmeshment, neglect and trauma issues that typically begin in early childhood. Porn addiction may also be complicated by socio-cultural factors and co-occurring mental health disorders such as borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and substance use disorders.

Compulsive porn use may allow a person to detach from painful feelings, self-medicate co-occurring issues, cope with life stressors and avoid real, honest intimacy — something they’ve learned is painful and scary.

Porn Addiction Treatment

Porn addicts can repair their lives, relationships and gain a stronger sense of self through treatment that addresses the compulsive behaviors surrounding porn addiction as well as the underlying issues that fuel a fear of vulnerability in honest, intimate relationships. Porn addiction treatment should provide an accepting, non-shaming environment and treat co-occurring disorders simultaneously.

The most effective route to porn addiction recovery typically involves counseling with a trained and certified sexual addiction therapist, coupled with or followed by porn addiction therapy, group therapy and a 12-step program. For many people, inpatient porn addiction treatment or an intensive outpatient program is needed to jumpstart the process and address co-occurring issues.

The Center for Relationship and Sexual Recovery at The Ranch offers specialized programming for men and women suffering from intimacy disorders like porn addiction. Our program was created by Robert Weiss, LCSW, CSAT-S, who has been a key figure in the evolution of effective, focused relationship and sexual addiction programs and continues to play an active role in programming. Our sex addiction programs are gender-separate, non-shaming, trauma-focused and led by specially trained master’s level staff. Learn more about The Ranch porn addiction treatment program or call 844-876-7680.