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Where Can I Get Help With a Pornography Addiction?

What starts as innocent fun can quickly escalate into a problem. If your pornography habits have negatively affected your life, you might want to reconsider some of your behaviors. 

We have all the info you need to get help for your problem, whether you consider it an addiction or not.

What Is a Pornography Addiction?

Porn addiction is defined as a person’s emotional dependence on pornography. For porn to be considered an addiction, it has to interfere with someone’s daily life, relationships, and ability to work and function in society. 

The term “pornography addiction” carries a certain degree of controversy. Not all medical professionals agree that a porn addiction should be classified in the same way that we classify a substance addiction. 

After all, the physical dependence on drugs and alcohol is quite different from psychological dependence on sex or internet pornography. Some doctors classify porn addiction as a hypersexual disorder or sexual addiction, which encompasses behaviors such as watching too much porn and excessive masturbation. 

Regardless of what wording you want to use to describe it, if you are worried that your relationship with porn has become troublesome in your life, you’re not alone! You can do something about it. 

Signs That You Might Be Addicted to Pornography

  • Your pornography consumption habits have ramped up over time
  • You are ignoring life’s responsibilities to watch porn
  • You feel guilty after watching but continue to do so
  • You have the desire to stop using pornography but feel like you can’t
  • You have started to spend large amounts of money on pornography
  • You are using pornography to cope with anxiety, depression, insomnia, or other negative emotions
  • Pornography has begun to affect your relationships
  • Pornography has made you feel less sexually satisfied with or attracted to your partner
  • Pornography has made real-life sex less satisfying for you

If any of that resonates with you, it might be time to put away that tablet or laptop. (Unless you’re using it to search up “Where Can I Get Help With a Pornography Addiction?”).

What Causes Pornography Addiction?

Porn addiction and cravings are hard to pinpoint. Though there is no single cause, many things can impact your porn use and potentially cause a behavioral addiction. 

Experts who believe in the existence of porn and sex addiction argue that this is a tricky issue and that there are many possible causes for addictive behavior surrounding porn. However, some causes may include underlying issues like:

  • Relationship problems
  • Biological factors
  • Mental health conditions
  • Unhealed trauma
  • Unrealistic cultural norms surrounding sex

What Does the Research Tell Us About Porn Addiction?

Even though there is some skepticism in the mental health community about the term “porn addiction,” there has been substantial research done on the topic. 

One study done in 2013 found that for heterosexual men, pornography use was associated with less sexual satisfaction in general. Interestingly, in women, the study found the opposite was true! 

This is not to say that women cannot suffer from porn addiction. Women can suffer the negative consequences of pornography excess just as much as anyone.

Additionally, In 2017, a study was conducted on men seeking addiction treatment for problematic pornography use (PPU). The study determined that there were changes in the brains of these men that were consistent with other types of addiction, such as drug abuse. 

These men’s brains reacted to erotic images differently than men without PPU. Even just the anticipation of viewing pornography was enough to conjure up brain changes in these men. 

Not all of the research is consistent regarding the topic of porn addiction. A 2015 study discovered that the usual brain pathways of addiction were missing in participants who reported excessive pornography viewing and saw themselves as addicts.

In traditional addictions, the brain increases activity when exposed to the addictive substance. However, in this particular study, the participants showed decreased levels of brain activity when exposed to the stimuli. 

This data suggests that the standard addiction models and interventions might not apply to pornography as it does to other substances.

Is It Possible To Stop On My Own?

Unlike some physical dependencies and substance abuse, there is no danger in trying to curb your porn viewing habits on your own before starting to pursue treatment options. There are some things you could try on your own first:

  • Have some pre-planned activities in mind that you can turn to if a strong urge to view porn strikes.
  • Know what your triggers are and try to figure out how you can avoid them
  • Collaborate with someone who understands what you’re going through and will help to hold you accountable.
  • Have a friend or loved one install anti-porn software on your computer. Just don’t let them give you the password to bypass the software!
  • Remove all electronic porn and bookmarks from your devices. If you still have hard copy pornographic material in 2022, though we applaud your commitment to keeping it retro, you probably want to toss it in the trash or give it away.
  • Keep track of your setbacks, give yourself reminders, and start to notice patterns in your viewing habits through journaling. 

How Can I Get Started Finding Help?

It’s fair to say that porn addiction treatment is highly specialized. Since it is so different from other types of addiction, and there is such contention in the medical community about how to handle it, it can be hard to know where to start for effective treatment.

If you have already tried and failed to stop on your own, it’s probably time to get help in some form. Outpatient therapy and a commitment to working on your mental health is a great starting point. 

If you have healthcare, you can check online for a therapist locator to find a mental health provider near you who accepts your insurance. 

Before seeking a treatment program such as that commonly known as inpatient rehab, you might want to start a little smaller. The top three recommended treatment options for porn addiction recovery are therapy, medication, and support groups.

Therapy

If you think you might have a compulsion for porn, you should seek an evaluation from a mental health professional. Evaluations are especially beneficial and vitally important if you also suffer from anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or depression. 

(Spoiler alert: it’s pretty darn common to have some overlap between porn addiction and one or more of these underlying conditions).

Your therapist might recommend that you continue individual counseling or encourage you to try couple’s or group sessions, depending on how porn has affected your life. They may also try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to start changing your habits and thought patterns.

Just an FYI: You might want to steer clear of therapists who claim to “specialize” in porn addiction diagnosis. Since it is not officially considered a disease or substance use disorder by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), it’s unlikely that they truly specialize in a clinical sense. 

Medication

Sadly, no magic pill will influence you to shut down your laptop and toss your old magazines. However, there are some situations where medication and medical advice can be helpful. 

Behavioral addictions are typically treated with talk therapy and CBT. However, if you have other mental health disorders like OCD, anxiety, or depression, porn viewing could be just another symptom. In this case, medication can be a saving grace.

Support Groups

Chuck your embarrassment out the window and know that you are not the only person going through this. It can feel liberating and supportive to know there are others out there going through just what you are going through. 

You can ask your doctor or therapist if they can give you any info about local support groups you can attend, such as a local chapter of Sex Addicts Anonymous.

Are face-to-face meetings with people you don’t know not exactly your thing? Never fear! There are plenty of virtual options that you can try for your porn detox. It breaks our heart that shame permeates the conversation and experience — having a support group at your fingertips can help to dispel the judgment. 

A quick internet search will help you find resources that will help. Believe it or not, there are even apps dedicated to helping you heal. It’s like social media (but without all the negative vibes — only the positive stuff). 

Conclusion

Is pornography addiction real? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it’s just a compulsion. Either way, the negative effects that porn can have on your life are very real. 

You can get help for your problem through various therapy, medication, and support groups. You can even try to stop on your own. Regardless of your route, remember that you’re not alone and can change your life on your terms. 


Sources:

Pornography Addiction: Why Pornography Is Addictive? | WebMD

Can Pornography be Addictive? An fMRI Study of Men Seeking Treatment for Problematic Pornography Use | PMC

Neuroscience of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review and Update | PMC

Online Porn Addiction: What We Know and What We Don’t—A Systematic Review | PMC

Porn addiction: Signs, causes, and treatment | Medical News Today