Porn Addiction: Signs, Symptoms & Treatment

porn addiction test, how to stop porn addiction, how to overcome porn addiction, porn addiction recovery

Porn addiction is more common than you might realize, particularly considering that such a significant portion of the population regularly watches porn.

According to the APA Handbook of Sexuality and Psychology, anywhere from 50 to 99 percent of men may watch porn, and 30 to 86 percent of women. We’re in a digital era where porn is easily available, and it’s not necessarily a sign of a problem for most people. However, some people develop compulsive tendencies when it comes to viewing porn, and they may meet the criteria for porn addiction.

Recently actor Terry Crews brought attention to what’s often something people don’t talk about. Crews publicly came out and said that he’d battled pornography addiction since the age of 12, and it had significantly impacted his life and his relationship with his wife. He also said he went to rehab for porn addiction because it started compromising his relationship not only with his wife but also his children.

The following provides an overview of what porn addiction is, and how to stop porn addiction. There are specific ways that you can explore as you learn how to overcome porn addiction.

What Is Porn Addiction?

Pornography addiction or porn addiction is not an official diagnosis according to the American Psychiatric Association, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a real behavioral addiction and compulsion. Compulsive viewing of porn can be as troubling for some people and cause as many adverse effects in their lives as substance addictions and other behavioral addictions such as food addiction or gambling addiction.

porn addiction test, porn addiction recovery

The fact that the APA doesn’t currently recognize porn addiction means that there aren’t standardized diagnostic criteria. However, the research that’s available right now shows that the brains of people who say they view porn compulsively have some similarities to brain images of people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Also, even though porn addiction isn’t formally recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Psychiatric Disorders (DSM-5), much of the reason for this is because there isn’t a lot of public awareness about the topic yet, and there isn’t a huge amount of research. These factors mean that while there not be a formal way to diagnose porn addiction currently, it may be added to the DSM in the future.

While some researchers and mental health professionals do feel it’s possible to get addicted to porn, others feel it’s better described as a compulsion. There are a lot of similarities between an addiction and a compulsion, however.

Viewing Porn and the Brain

Viewing porn can have some of the same effects on the brain as eating disorders, and other addictions do. Many of the same things that can predispose someone to be addicted to certain substances or engage in compulsive behaviors can also make someone more likely to become addicted to porn.

Also, as with substances, it’s possible to develop a tolerance to porn and tolerance is one of the key characteristics of substance abuse and addiction. Essentially that tolerance, which is desensitization, leads someone to crave not only more porn but more extreme porn.

With ongoing pornography addiction and exposure, there may be structural changes in a person’s brain and changes in how the brain responds to sexual stimuli.

Does Viewing Porn Cause Distress or Problems?

One of the primary defining symptoms of an addiction to drugs or alcohol is that a person compulsively continues to use substances even when it causes problems in their life. The same can be true of someone who is addicted to porn or compulsively views porn.

For example, you may have a problem with porn if:

  • The amount spent viewing porn continues increasing
  • You feel a high from viewing porn
  • You feel guilty about your viewing of porn
  • You aren’t able to have sex or enjoy it without watching porn first
  • You feel that your viewing of porn is disrupting your life, but you do it anyway
  • You neglect other responsibilities or areas of your life to watch porn instead
  • Porn addiction is sometimes characterized as a subset of other sexual addictions. These are formally recognized as process addictions. A process addiction can be used interchangeably with the term behavioral addiction. When someone struggles with a process addiction, they are addicted to a process or an activity. As was touched on above, this is similar to gambling addiction or overeating.

Signs and Symptoms of a Porn Addiction

Some of the general signs of porn addiction were named above. For example, someone with a porn compulsion or addiction will see impairment in their daily life and functionality. For example, when someone has a porn addiction, they may have strained romantic relationships, or they may isolate themselves from others altogether to instead view porn.

Other signs and symptoms of porn addiction can include:

  • Obsession with porn
  • Increasingly focused and fixated on viewing pornographic materials
  • Reducing the amount of time spent doing other activities
  • Not spending as much time with other people
  • Spending an increasing amount of time on self-satisfying sexual behaviors
  • Reduced attention to relationships and personal responsibilities
  • Increasingly risky sexual encounters
  • Using drugs or alcohol to intensify the experience surrounding sex

While the DSM doesn’t include a diagnosis for porn addiction, they do outline criteria for different addictive and compulsive disorders, particularly related to behaviors or processes. Some of these can be applied to porn addiction as well. For example, criteria for compulsive or addictive behaviors include:

  • The inability to resist impulses leading to engaging in certain behaviors, which is, in this case, viewing pornographic materials.
  • A sense of tension that increases before engaging in the behavior.
  • A sense of pleasure or relief when engaging in the behavior.
  • Feelings of guilt or shame after engaging in the behavior.

Researcher Dr. Victor Cline outlines four progressive steps usually involved with pornography addiction. These are:

  • Addiction which includes compulsively watching porn
  • Escalation which means that over time someone addicted to porn will want more extreme and deviant pornography to satisfy their compulsion
  • Desensitization meaning someone addicted to porn will lose an understanding of what’s socially acceptable. What most people would see as repulsive will be seen as normal at this point in someone’s porn addiction.
  • Acting out sexually is the fourth step in porn addiction as defined by Dr. Cline, and this can include group sex, compulsive promiscuity or other behaviors that one might feel they are acting out from porn.

Is There a Porn Addiction Test?

People often want to find a porn addiction test which can help them determine if their porn viewing could be a problem or an addiction. The following are links to some good porn addiction test options. They aren’t a replacement for speaking with a mental health care provider, but they can be a starting point if you feel porn addiction is a problem in your life.

Online Pornography Test—The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction

This online porn addiction test is available from The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction. It’s a 12-question test that can help you know more about whether or not you have an issue with porn or an addiction.

PsyCom Sex Addiction Test

PsyCom’s test isn’t specifically a porn addiction test, but it can be used to determine if you are addicted to sex and/or porn. This test looks at sexual addiction and hypersexual addiction, based on compulsive engagement in activities related to sex, or preoccupation with porn or sexual thoughts and fantasies.

Porn Addiction Quiz From Elevated Recovery

Another porn addiction test option is from Elevated Recovery. There are simple questions and according to the test creators, answering yes to five or more questions indicates that you might benefit from professional help for problematic porn use.

How To Overcome Porn Addiction

If you’ve taken the porn addiction test options listed above, or you already know your porn use is becoming a problem or is an existing problem, what can you do? There are steps you can take to overcome porn addiction, and the specific route you take depends on how severe your addiction is, and what your personal preferences are.

If you’re exploring how to overcome porn addiction, the following are some general tips and resources.

Admit It’s a Problem

As is the case with addictions to many substances, one of the first steps in how to stop porn addiction is to recognize that you have a problem and that you need to make a change. Too often people with addictions including porn addictions will minimize the problem or be in a state of denial, and when that happens, the issue is minimized making porn addiction recovery impossible.

Don’t Try to Stop Cold Turkey

Even when someone recognizes they have a problem with porn, they may not think they need help. They may instead think they can deal with on their own, and this typically isn’t the case. If you try to stop cold turkey, you’re likely to relapse or struggle more than you would if you worked with a professional therapist.

Find a Therapist

Therapy is one of the best things you can do if you’re exploring how to stop porn addiction. Cognitive behavioral therapy CBT is especially useful for many people who suffer from porn addiction and other process addictions.

overcome porn addiction, stop porn addiction, porn addiction recovery

Psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy helps in multiple ways. First, with cognitive behavioral therapy, people suffering from porn addiction can learn to recognize their irrational or harmful ways of thinking. A cognitive behavioral therapist will work with the client to help them show how their compulsive viewing of pornography is affecting every area of their lives and preventing them from having healthy relationships.

When someone can seek treatment it can also help them understand why they’re drawn to a fantasy world, and how they might be using porn to cope or combat painful or difficult emotions.

When someone is in therapy for porn addiction, their goal may be to completely stop viewing it, while others may want to view it only in a healthy way that doesn’t interfere with the rest of their life. There are often incremental goals that are used as a way to help someone with porn addiction. For example, a therapist might encourage a client to gradually reduce how much time they spend viewing porn each week.

Some forms of therapy for porn addiction may also include your spouse or romantic partner since this type of addiction can have such a significant impact on intimate relationships.

If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of in-person cognitive behavioral therapy or you aren’t able to find time for this type of treatment, you can do cognitive behavioral therapy online with a provider like Online-Therapy.com. Many people with porn addictions find online therapy is a better fit for them because they’re more comfortable being open and honest with their therapist.

Treatment Centers

Another option if you want structured help as you learn how to stop porn addiction is a treatment facility like a traditional rehab center. Many rehab centers offer inpatient and outpatient porn addiction treatment programs. However, you might only consider this if you’ve tried other options and found they didn’t work for you.

12-Step Support Groups

Much like there is Alcoholics Anonymous for people who struggle with alcoholism and Narcotics Anonymous for people addicted to drugs, there are 12-step groups for people with sexually-related addictions.

One option is Sexaholics Anonymous. Sexaholics Anonymous is a support group for people who have addictions not only to sex but also pornography and other sexually-related behaviors. There are face-to-face meetings held throughout the world as well as email and phone meetings.

Sex Addicts Anonymous or SAA is another 12-step group. The goal of SAA is to help people stop addictive sexual behavior, which means striving for porn addiction recovery. During SAA meetings, people share their experiences and their home as they work to find recovery from addictive sexual behaviors. The group is completely confidential, there are no fees or dues and the only requirement to participate is the desire to recover from addiction to sexual behaviors.

The Takeaway—How to Stop Porn Addiction

Porn addiction to any kind of porn including internet pornography can be difficult to deal with, and every bit as impactful as any other addiction including a drug or alcohol addiction. There are resources and help available, however, from therapy to 12-step support groups that can help you enjoy the quality of life that comes with porn addiction recovery.

 

Sources

Miller, Leah MA. “What Is Porn Addiction.” ProjectKnow. Accessed April 2, 2019.

 

Pietrangelo, Ann. “Everything You Need to Know About Pornography Addiction.” Healthline. January 30, 3019. Accessed April 2, 2019.

 

Skinner, Kevin B Ph.D. “Is Pornography (Sexual) Addiction Real?” Psychology Today. November 3, 2014. Accessed April 2, 2019.

 

HealthyPlace Staff Writer. “Diagnosing and Treating Pornography Addiction.” HealthyPlace.com. Accessed April 2, 2019.

 

Parker, Wayne. “How to Break a Porn Addiction.” Verywell Mind. September 28, 2018. Accessed April 2, 2019.

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect With Us
Addiction Info and Resources Delivered To You
We regularly send out information for people who struggle with addiction as well as their loved ones.
Never display this again

Shopping cart

Subtotal
Shipping and discount codes are added at checkout.
Checkout