Porn Addiction: Signs, Causes And Effects of Porn Addiction On Men

Porn Addiction: Signs, Causes And Effects of Porn Addiction On Men

What is porn addiction? What are the signs of pornography addiction? What are the negative consequences of viewing pornography addictively? Am I addicted to porn? Can I recover from porn addiction? Where can I learn more about porn addiction? If you are looking for answers to these questions, this article is meant for you.

My name is Sean Galla, and I am an online support group facilitator with more than ten years of experience. Part of my work involves working with porn addicts in porn addiction support groups. This gives me a firsthand view of the effects porn addiction and other behavioral addictions can have on men and how being part of a support group can help beat the habit and enhance the members’ quality of life. 

If you are looking for comprehensive information about porn addiction, this article gives a systematic review of porn addiction, including recommendations for the best porn addiction support groups to help you kick the habit.

Written by

Sean Galla

An experienced facilitator, community builder and Peer Support Specialist, Sean has been running men's groups for 10+ years. Read Sean's Full Author Bio.

What is Porn Addiction?

Porn addiction is a term used to describe an emotional dependence on pornographic material. It interferes with day-to-day life, the ability to function, and relationships. While most people may not know this, porn addiction is quite common. It is considered a hypersexual disorder, an umbrella term used to describe different excessive sexual behaviors like excessive masturbation.

It is important to note that, while it occurs, porn addiction is not recognized as a real condition by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and, therefore, cannot be officially diagnosed. This means that there is no official criterion that mental health professionals can use to diagnose the condition.

However, it can be diagnosed as compulsive sexual behavior, an umbrella term used to refer to repetitive sexual activities that become the main focus of a person’s life and interfere with everyday life.

The prevalence of online porn addiction continues to grow thanks to the availability of porn material on the internet. In 2019, PornHub, received over 42 billion visits, meaning at least 115 million visits in a day.

Other statistics show that:

  • At least 40 million adults in the U.S. visit internet pornography sites regularly.
  • 1 in 5 internet searches on a mobile device is for pornography.
  • At least 20% of men admit to viewing porn at work.
  • 88% of porn scenes contain physical aggression, while 49% contain verbal aggression.
  • Men who are happily married are 61% less likely to look at porn.

A study done on a group of men seeking treatment for PPU (Problematic Porn Use) showed that the participants’ brain activity responded to sexual images in the same way the brain responds to alcohol abuse, alcohol addiction, or drug addiction. The circuits in the brain associated with motivation, memory, and reward are turned on whenever the individual views pornographic material.

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Porn and Relationships

Without a doubt, porn addiction can cause many problems in relationships. Conflict ensues when it comes to light that one partner is addicted to porn, with some people considering it a form of infidelity. Couples should consider joint counseling to understand each other’s sexual needs and expectations as they negotiate what is acceptable and not acceptable in their relationship.

According to research, there is a correlation between porn use and the possibility of breakups. However, the effect is not primarily based on watching porn but on whether the other partner disapproves. Couples should disclose their relationship with porn material at the beginning of the relationship to avoid disputes in the future.

Causes of Porn Addiction

Like any other addiction, porn addiction can be understood when looked at through operant conditioning principles. This is where a behavior, such as watching pornography, is rewarded, making the person want to repeat it. While many things in life can be rewarding, most people find porn particularly reinforcing since the reward taps into their instinctive drive for sex, which is an enjoyable natural drive. Also, porn is more readily available to meet this need than finding a willing mate.

While this may not necessarily be a problem initially, some people start to partake in the habit excessively, impulsively, at the expense of other valued behaviors. This is when it can be said that one has a porn addiction.

Other factors that can influence porn addiction include:

Biological factors

  • Some people are genetically predisposed to sensation-seeking behavior, emotion dysregulation, and impulsivity.
  • Some people are predisposed to other conditions associated with risky sexual behavior, such as depression and anxiety.
  • Some people have high sex hormone levels that affect their libido, making it hard to fulfill their sexual needs through normal human sexual contact.

Psychological factors

  • Early life exposure factors such as exposure to sexual content or abuse can contribute to the development of porn addiction.
  • Mental health issues such as personality disorders, poor impulse control, depression, anxiety, performance anxiety, and others can contribute to porn addiction behavior.

Social factors

  • Rejection socially or romantically can drive one to less healthy ways of getting sexual gratification.
  • Social isolation can lead one to seek unhealthy ways of sexual gratification. It can also cause mental health issues that contribute to porn addiction and other risky sexual behavior.
  • Peer influence can also cause risky sexual addiction, including viewing porn as a way of being at per with peers.

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The Leading Signs of Porn Addiction

The Leading Signs of Porn Addiction

To understand the signs of porn addiction, it is essential to understand the definition of addiction and substance addiction. A person can be said to suffer from substance use disorder if they meet at least two of the following criteria:

  • Partaking in large amounts of drugs or alcohol over a more extended period than needed.
  • Experiencing a desire to stop, reduce, or control their use of drugs or alcohol but cannot.
  • Spending a great deal of time and effort to obtain drugs or alcohol.
  • Strong cravings to use that require a significant effort to resist.
  • Continued use of a substance even when it negatively affects their mental health, work, personal life, or physical health.

 The same criteria can be used to diagnose porn addiction. Some of the real-life signs of porn addiction include:

  • Uncontrollable use of porn material over a large amount of time
  • Inability to stop consuming porn material no matter how hard you try
  • Using porn in situations that impose physical risks
  • Difficulty controlling porn use
  • Continued use of porn despite negative effects on work or relationships.

Some of the earliest signs of porn addiction are continued use even after experiencing unpleasant feelings or the impact of the habit. For instance, someone with a porn addiction may not be able to control their urge in different settings. They risk watching porn at work, even when they know they could get fired when caught.

People addicted to porn also feel anxiety and shame over their habit. In fact, inner moral conflict and religious conflict about porn addiction are the most common reasons people seek help.

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The Effects of Porn Addiction

Because of the easy access to porn online, it is easy for people to become dependent on erotic material. Over time, they start to experience the effects of excessive porn use in different aspects of their life.

Effect on intimacy between partners

Even though anyone can get addicted to porn, the compulsive disorder is more prevalent amongst men and places unnecessary pressure on their female partners.

Men who watch too much porn tend to pull away emotionally from their partners and develop secretive traits as they try to hide their habits from their significant other. This can often lead to depression and anxiety following their use of pornography material.

Negatively affects the partner’s self-esteem

When you are addicted to porn, you will withdraw physically from your partner and turn to porn for sexual satisfaction. Without their knowledge of your habit, your partner will think that you are no longer attracted to them, which affects their self-esteem.

It affects sexual satisfaction

People with porn addiction place a lot of pressure on their sexual performance when having intercourse with their partner, negatively affecting their sex life and sexual health.

When you get into the habit of constantly viewing intimate relations of other people online, you eventually start to make comparisons. You begin to compare your physical appearance to that of porn stars and even your sexual abilities, trying to see where you fall short. This dissatisfaction will lead to sexual dissatisfaction, which pushes you to seek sexual gratification in risky ways.

It affects your day-to-day functions and well being

When you are addicted to porn viewing, you spend a lot of time on your phone or computer looking for porn material. This comes in the way of your productivity at work, at home, and in your social life.

This overwhelming need to watch other people engage in sexual intercourse takes center stage. You start missing important meetings and scheduled appointments and even prefer to watch porn over resting or enjoying your free time.

Encourages mental health disorders

Having an insatiable appetite for porn is closely associated with anxiety disorders. Porn addiction is a hypersexual disorder that can cause mood disorders and even substance use. While still speculative, excessive consumption of porn material is also linked to sexual dysfunctions, including erectile dysfunction.

How to Treat Porn Addiction

How to Treat Porn Addiction

Since it is not regarded as a real condition, there is no specific addiction treatment method for porn addiction. However, there are different forms of acceptance and commitment therapy options one can seek to overcome the addiction. The most common treatment options include medication-assisted treatments, psychotherapy, and support groups.

Psychotherapy

Also commonly referred to as supportive talk therapy, psychotherapy helps explore the underlying causes of the addiction. In this treatment, a healthcare professional helps porn addicts to understand their relationship with porn better. Different approaches can be used for service delivery in psychotherapy, including family counseling, individual counseling, and group counseling.

Through the help of a mental health specialist, the individuals can identify the root cause of the maladaptive behavior and their unmet needs. This helps to develop helpful strategies that the individual can use to overcome the addiction.

Psychotherapy is a neuroscience treatment option that can be used to treat co-occurring conditions simultaneously. For instance, it is possible to treat substance abuse disorders or mental health disorders like depression alongside porn addiction.

Behavioral modification

This is a type of treatment used to help individuals replace maladaptive behavior. As a type of psychotherapy intervention, it focuses on operant conditioning principles. According to research, behavioral modification has lasting effects and can successfully aid therapy. Over time, an individual learns to manage and even completely stop viewing pornographic material obsessively.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a popular form of behavioral modification considered more effective than other forms of psychotherapy and medications by APA.

Support groups

Porn addiction support groups are excellent resources for support for people with porn addiction. These groups comprise people who share the same goal of freeing themselves from porn addiction and who come together to offer medical advice, experiences, insights, and encouragement.

Some of the leading porn addiction support groups include:

Flyleaf Counseling

This is a men’s recovery group from porn and sex addiction. Flyleaf Counseling offers knowledge, connections, hope, and resilience as it teaches men how to live an intentional life as they fight to overcome porn addiction. This is a trauma group, psychoeducational group, therapeutic group, and process group that offers a safe and judgment-free space for men to find healing and recovery.

Porn Addicts Anonymous (PAA)

Porn Addicts Anonymous (PAA) is an addiction support group for men and women suffering from addictive behavior. It ensures addicts do not isolate themselves, feel alone, or feel afraid of seeking help for their addiction. It follows the 12-steps program for recovery to help a member recover from their addiction, including porn addiction. The only thing you need to have to join PAA is the desire to stop using pornography in any form. You can call their helpline to learn more.

Mensgroup

Men’s Group is a men-only online support group that offers peer support to any male looking to connect with others as they fight various issues, including porn addiction. At Mensgroup.com, men can talk about their triggers, shortcoming, and failures in their recovery process.

This is a forum for mutual acceptance, self-discovery, and understanding amongst peers. Participants can join chat rooms or meet with other porn addicts through video calls. With MensGroup, you, or your loved one, do not have to go through problematic pornography use alone.

Conclusion

To overcome porn addiction, you first need to learn more for a better understanding of the condition. This article presents relevant and helpful information on porn addiction. Like any other addiction, porn addiction requires behavioral therapy and guidance for one to recover. If you are a porn addict, joining a men’s group like mensgroup.com is an essential step towards finding healing and recovery from this addiction. Doing it with others like you calls you to be accountable, which improves your chances of making the change you seek.

*Sources:
1. Online Porn Addiction: What We Know and What We Don’t—A Systematic Review
2. Is pornography addictive?
3. What to know about porn addiction
4. Porn Addiction
5. Porn addiction: Why Americans are in more danger than ever

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