A man is chained to computer from porn addiction

Addicted to Porn? 7 Strategies to Overcome a Porn Addiction

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With pornography more accessible then ever before, the rates of porn addiction are on the rise. With a smartphone in our pockets, we carry a 24-7 access portal to porn wherever we go. Today porn is everywhere – there is no getting away from it. Instant access is leading to compulsive, problematic, and excessive use.

Over 10 percent of the internet is dedicated to porn or adult content. Every hour of every day, the porn industry makes $11 million from online sales. This very second, you can expect close to 30,000 people to be watching porn around the world. The average age of first exposure is only 11 years old. Close to 20 percent of men and 13 percent of women admit to watching porn at work.

Thanks to the internet, porn has successfully infiltrated everyday life in a way nobody could have expected three decades ago. There are many debates about the negative ramifications of porn on society.

Whether there is such a thing as ‘good porn,’ or ‘healthy use of porn’ is an ongoing discussion. Yet, no matter your stance on porn as a concept, it’s hard to deny the series effect it has on some people. A few videos here and there can easily fall into addictive patterns of behavior.

Celebrities like Jada Pinkett Smith and Russell Brand openly talk about their addiction to porn. Brand, who opened up about his continued demons as related to porn in a video published in 2015, stated: “…it’s affecting my ability to relate to women, to relate to myself, to my own sexuality, to my own spirituality.”

Smith, someone who society might not stereotype as a porn addict, talked about her “unhealthy relationship” to porn during her single phase. She stated in her series Red Table Talk, “It was actually like filling an emptiness, at least you think it is, but it’s actually not.”

Have you noticed an uptick in your porn consumption? Has it affected your ability to relate to real-life partners? You are not the only one who has developed an unhealthy relationship with porn. Many – like Brand and Smith – have worked through their addictions. Effective treatments usually include therapy, symptom management, and adopting new online strategies.

What is Porn Addiction?

Technically, the go-to-guide for all psychiatric issues, the DSM-5, doesn’t include pornography addiction. While Gambling Disorder, and Substance Use and Addictive Disorders both make appearances, porn failed to make the cut in the most recent version. The lack of definition isn’t to say porn addiction isn’t real, but there is a lack of information on prevalence and severity. Porn addiction has really only been around since the birth of the internet.

There is no standardized definition, and you may come across several different interpretations. Generally speaking, porn addiction is when there is excessive or compulsive viewing of pornographic images (or videos), which lead to negative consequences in one’s life.

If you view porn in excess, you may find you become desensitized to stimulation in real-life encounters. Relationships can falter, as you find it increasingly challenging to feel arousal in-person. Many take great care to hide their addiction, and they feel as if they are leading a double life – even if they live with a partner. If someone asks you to stop, you may become hostile.

Eventually, porn eats up more and more of your time, and you find yourself watching extreme content far beyond the original intent.

What is it Like to Have a Porn Addiction?

Porn naturally overstimulates the brain. Compulsive porn consumption wasn’t such an issue before the invention of the internet – but now you can view new images and videos at the click of a button. Nowadays there is no limit on the number and frequency of images you can absorb in a single sitting.

While you may have begun with softcore topics, it can quickly (and easily) spiral into extreme content. Your brain seeks more and more stimulation – and the only way to get it is through going to hardcore content.

Porn affects relationships, both personal and professional. If effects how you view sexual relations. As is often reported, it affects how men view and treat women (this may also be true for women). It usually comes with intense feelings of shame, guilt, and frustration as you attempt to stop.

As actor Terry Crews wrote in his memoir, “If day turns into night and you are still watching, you probably got a problem. And that was me.” If this sounds all too familiar, it may be time to seek help. Here are a few strategies for overcoming an addiction to pornography.

7 Strategies to Overcome a Porn Addiction

1. Reach out to a Support Network

While porn addiction might not have a definition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders yet, it doesn’t mean you are the only one struggling with it. There are many online communities of people fighting porn addiction, sharing their stories and helpful tips on the journey to recovery. Find a community that you connect with, and engage with others. Support networks range in approach from religion focused to male-only to everything in between. A few suggestions are Reboot Nation and No Fap. It can help by starting here, to see stories from others in your situation.

2. Seek an Accountability Partner

As with other types of addiction, find someone you can trust to confide to. An accountability partner is someone who keeps you on track and supports you when you feel a compulsion. In the beginning, you might speak with them every day, and they’ll know to check in on you throughout your recovery.

3. Speak with a Professional:

When you are ready, there is a lot of gain from speaking from a professional about porn addiction. Although a support network and accountability partner are useful, a professional comes with years of experience and knowledge. As a neutral party, they are not there to shame or judge you for your behaviors. Instead, they work with you – wherever you are at – to move beyond your addiction. A therapist is a wealth of knowledge about how to overcome porn addictions and underlying issues.

4. Use Technology to Your Advantage

In a dream world, quitting porn would be much easier because you could throw your smartphone away and have no need for a computer at work. In 2019, this isn’t the case. Why not use technology to your advantage to help you kick the habit? There are already several apps and accountability programs, like ConvenantEyes, specifically designed with you in mind. They put barriers in place between you and the images you are trying to avoid. They also track usage, search terms, and more so you can get an authentic picture of your activity.

5. Reboot Your Brain

Many support networks talk about rebooting the brain as the first step to treatment. What this means is taking the time to reset the brain to regular activity and patterns of thought. Rebooting is a way to reset the neurological pathways without the stimulus of porn. This may take weeks or months, but during that time you should avoid sexual stimulus of any sort – primarily via pornography. This reboot allows the dopamine levels to neutralize, and your brain to get out of a negative pattern of behavior.

6. Understand the Addiction to Make it Approachable

There are many great resources for exploring the science behind addiction. As Brett from the Art of Manliness explains, sometimes it’s challenging to face even the word “addiction.” The term naturally makes it feel like the problem is an “unbeatable dark monster/plague/pandemic/war that must be fought tooth and nail.”

It’s much more approachable from a scientific standpoint. It’s about a cycle of increased stimuli, followed by increased dopamine levels. If you look at it from a physiological perspective, you can learn the reason why it’s happening and take steps to avoid the triggers. Science helps you look at it critically, and learn how to rewire the brain with appropriate measures.

7. Address the Unaddressed

While not always the case, some people with porn addictions may also be fighting other mental illness as well. A common co-diagnosis is depression, which may have come before or after the addiction began. If there are other underlying causes for concern, like anxiety, depression, or other addictions, these need to be addressed at the same time. Speak with a professional about all your concerns at once to get a holistic treatment plan.

Porn addiction, no matter how you define it, does impact your life. Although society often stereotypes men as the only gender with porn addiction, women can also find themselves with an excessive problem as well. Porn is everywhere, and our societal issues with it will are only going to grow.

As the first step to moving out of porn addiction, the first step can be the hardest. Joining support networks or seeking professional treatment for something you’ve hidden for so long is challenging, to say the least. As you come to terms with the scope of your compulsion, know you aren’t alone. You may be surprised to see how much support you have in your journey out. Both online and off, there are many people in your life willing to listen and keep you accountable to your goals.