The Keys To Breaking A Porn Addiction For Good

We've all heard that old saying "you never know what goes on behind closed doors," but I don't think that we stop to really think about what that may entail.

For over 70 percent of American men between the ages of 18 and 49, these secrets behind closed doors include watching porn regularly.

Some might say, "So he watches a little porn. What's the big deal?" Believe it or not, that big deal includes so much more than most of us can even imagine.

The porn industry is booming, but meanwhile, long-term relationships are coming apart at the seams in large numbers, and more and more men are being called out for issues like sexual assault and sexual crimes with minors.

While most people don't see it, porn addiction is causing serious issues for many men and women across the world, and it's time that we start talking about what porn addiction looks like and how people who struggle with this addiction can get the help they need.

What is porn addiction?

The internet makes it easier for us to access everything, including pornographic images and porn videos. In fact, with a quick Google search and a few clicks, you can spend hours checking out porn just like you’d binge-watching a Netflix series.

But where is the line between viewing porn for enjoyment and full-blown porn addiction?

Definitions vary, but in the most basic form, “porn addiction” means a person becomes so emotionally dependent on pornography that it disrupts their day-to-day activities and relationships.

In fact, some doctors view porn addiction as a subcategory of hypersexual disorder — a general term that includes many other types of sex addiction. Other manifestations of the hypersexual disorder include excessive masturbation or frequent use of sex workers.

It’s important to remember that there’s a difference between intense interests in various things and actual addiction, though.

An addiction actually changes the way your brain operates, which causes you to continue using the substance or engaging in the interest even if it causes harm.

When you suffer from an addiction, you feel compelled to continue using addictive substances or activity, and discontinuing use causes you physical and emotional distress.

This is because addictive activities like porn provide you with a large amount of dopamine — the brain chemical that helps you feel pleasure.

Over time, your body produces less dopamine naturally and relies on your addiction to feel that same rush.

What are the signs of a porn addict?

Although porn addiction is not directly addressed in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, numerous recent studies indicate that heavy porn use might be a sign of addiction.

What’s more, experts say that the same brain areas that activate for drug or alcohol addicts also “light up” for men and women who view pornography consistently.

If you are concerned about your porn habits, you may want to look for these warning signs of porn addiction. You may have a problem with porn if:

  • You always think about porn even when you aren’t watching it.
  • You view porn at work or in other public locations even though someone may see you.
  • You feel shame when you watch porn.
  • You continue to watch pornographic videos or view pornographic photos even after witnessing the harm it does to your relationships with others.
  • You no longer feel sexual satisfaction with partners unless porn is involved.
  • You hide your porn habits from your spouse, partner, or other family members.
  • You feel angry when someone asks you to stop looking at porn or interrupts your porn viewing.
  • You make more demands during sex and feel frustrated when your partner cannot meet these demands in the way you want.
  • You lose track of time when you watch porn.
  • You can’t seem to quit watching porn even when actively trying to stop.


Why is pornography so addictive?

Current research shows that somewhere between 5-8 percent of adults around the world deal with porn addictions. Considering that Pornhub received over 30 billion hits in 2018 alone, those numbers aren’t surprising.

But what makes porn so irresistible and addictive? In this video, Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown of AsapSCIENCE explain how pornography impacts your brain in such an addictive way:

In the most basic sense, porn addiction starts in the same way as drug addictions. When you initially enjoy a positive pornography-viewing experience, you look for ways to repeat that sense of pleasure and enjoyment. 

Over time, you may face uncontrollable urges to view porn so that you can feel sexually satisfied. In fact, you may eventually feel like porn is the only way you can obtain that same level of satisfaction. 

Addiction expert Dr. Adi Jaffe says that internet porn and sexual gratification positively reinforce each other, which then causes your urges to feel more powerful and more necessary as you continue to use porn. 

Furthermore, adults can easily access pornography with the internet. In fact, pulling up porn videos online is often requires far less effort than it takes to convince your partner to have sex. 

Internet porn addiction can also quickly spiral as the user develops a tolerance to the material they consume. 

As this tolerance develops, addicts may search for more deviant material to achieve the same high. This can cause a dangerous cycle where porn causes problems in relationships, which then causes the addicted person to turn to porn even more and therefore reinforces the addiction.

Sadly, porn addicts don’t receive the help they need because they don’t fully recognize their porn addiction as a problem. 

If you avoid help, your porn addiction may even spiral as you use porn as an escape from secondary symptoms like depression, loneliness, and relationship problems. Thus, the addiction remains untreated and causes the spiral of addiction to continue.

How does it ruin my current and future relationships?

People who battle porn addiction often brush it off and say it’s “no big deal.” However, a porn addiction can actually cause harm to your current and future intimate relationships in numerous ways.

First and foremost, healthy relationships are built on trust. When you start secretly engaging in sexual acts through the use of pornography, you break that bubble of trust with your partner or spouse. Once trust is broken, it takes lots of time and energy to heal your relationship (if it can even be salvaged at all). 

What’s more, pornography creates unrealistic expectations about your spouse and sexual behavior. In fact, studies show that the more porn someone watches, the less happy they feel within their marriage or committed relationship. 

While sexual relationships should be mutually satisfying, porn only provides self-gratification and can even cause partners who watch porn to take on a dominating role during sex that can leave the other sexual partner feeling scared and confused.

Inversely, men who consume large amounts of porn can also battle impotence or a lack of sexual attraction to their partner. Some men who battle porn addictions even find that they can't even "get turned on" unless they watch porn.

A 2013 survey of sex therapists in Europe revealed some startling results on porn’s impact on relationships. In the survey, an overwhelming 86 percent of these therapists noticed that porn addictions harmed intimate relationships. 

Most sex therapists also claim that porn increases men’s sexual expectations, while negatively impacting a women’s confidence during sex.

These effects can cause performance anxiety or even sexual dissatisfaction for both partners in a relationship, which can wear down a relationship over time.

According to Robert Weiss PhD, LCSW, porn addiction can lead to severe consequences such as:

  • The breakdown of previously-existing relationships and the inability to form new intimate relationships
  • Feelings of shame, isolation, depression, and loneliness can further break down primary and even secondary relationships
  • New addictions to substances that can further complicate relationships
  • Career losses
  • Financial and legal trouble

How do I stop being addicted to porn and get the help I need?

Although breaking your porn addiction takes serious willpower and hard work, some people are able to kick the habit on their own. If you want to try to pull the plug on pornography on your own, start by:

  • Deleting electronic porn and bookmarks from all your devices
  • Discarding any hard copies of porn you own, such as DVDs or magazines
  • Asking a friend or family member to install anti-porn software on your electronic devices
  • Finding new hobbies or other distraction techniques to use when urges hit
  • Asking someone to hold you accountable and check in about your porn use
  • Keeping a journal to track setbacks, victories, and alternate activities

Many porn addicts feel too ashamed, embarrassed, and humiliated to ask for help at first. Like any other addiction, though, recovery from your porn use often requires professional help and interventions.

You can start by seeking help from a mental health counselor or trained addiction treatment specialist.


These professionals will often use specific therapy modalities to help you work through your addiction, such as cognitive behavior therapy, mindfulness-based therapies like dialectical behavior therapy or acceptance and commitment therapy, and psychodynamic therapy.

These various therapies serve two main functions. For starters, they help you change your thought patterns and rewire your brain.


With modalities like cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy, you learn ways to stop your thoughts and start using replacement behaviors when urges strike.

Additionally, these therapy methods help you discover your addiction's root cause, which can stem from chemical imbalances, childhood trauma, or countless other physical or emotional causes.

In addition to individual therapy, many addicts find 12-step groups and other support networks highly beneficial. For porn addiction specific groups, you can attend Sex Addicts Anonymous or Porn Addicts Anonymous.

Keep in mind that the road to recovery is hard and that relapse is common in early treatment and recovery.

If a relapse happens, don't look at it as a failure, but rather as a misstep or small mistake. Having accountability and a healthy support system can help you through these trying times in your recovery.

Despite the messages that mainstream media and the general public send, porn addiction is a very serious issue that can lead to long-term problems.

However, if you're ready to recognize your porn use as a problem and take active steps to change, there are many treatment options out there for you.

Like any other recovery, the path to breaking your porn addiction isn't a straight line, and you will encounter many struggles along the way.

Breaking free of your reliance on porn will open many doors for you and, eventually, allow you to connect intimately with a partner and find love again.