Porn Addiction

YES, It's REAL and how it can affect you

Porn addiction is considered a behavioural addiction that is characterised by an ever-growing compulsion to view pornographic content or material. In the past, a person suffering from an addiction to pornography would primarily satisfy his or her craving for pornographic content by viewing or storing pornographic videos, magazines, and photos. Now, the tools available to feed a porn addiction have since evolved thanks to the internet and other technologies, allowing anonymous access to unlimited pornography at all levels of explicitness.

Common Side Effects

Although many medical and psychiatric professionals do not treat the compulsion to view or use pornographic material as an addiction, the signs and symptoms of porn addiction are often very similar to those that signify an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Symptoms or signs of a porn addiction will vary depending on the person, especially in the availability of pornographic material, the length of time pornography has been a compulsion, and the severity of the addiction.

Warning signs and symptoms of a porn addiction may include:

  • Being unable to stop using porn or stop engaging in the behaviours associated with porn, despite repeated attempts to do so. Approximately 9% of viewers reported that they had made unsuccessful attempts to stop.

  • Experiencing cravings to view porn much like substance users report feeling strong urges to use drugs, porn addicts can experience strong urges to view porn.

  • Becoming angry, hostile, or irritable when asked to stop using porn. Porn addicts may deny their porn viewing or be upset when loved ones request that they stop.

  • Keeping all or part of one’s porn use secret from loved ones. Porn addiction has been shown to lead to increased secrecy in relationships1

  • Feeling as though one is living a double or secret life because of porn use. A person with a porn addiction may feel guilty or ashamed and work hard to hide his or her porn viewing from others.

  • Continuing to view porn despite negative consequences, such as broken relationships or a job loss. Relationships where one partner is addicted to porn can lead to a reduction in intimacy, emotional distance, reduced sexual satisfaction, and an overall poorer quality of relationship.

  • Being unable to abstain from porn during work hours can lead to disciplinary action or even job loss.

  • Losing track of large chunks of time due to being absorbed in porn use. Porn addicts may spend much of the day viewing pornography. This can lead to porn becoming a priority, with everything else set aside in favour of viewing porn.

  • Requiring increasing amounts or more explicit porn to gain the same satisfaction or thrill, similar to the development of a tolerance.

To determine whether porn addiction treatment is necessary, you may be asked to consider which of the following statements are true for you:

  • I feel powerless to resist the urge to view porn.

  • I frequently spend more time or money on porn than I initially intended.

  • I have made many unsuccessful attempts to limit or stop viewing porn.

  • I spend a significant portion of time viewing porn, thinking about porn, or engaging in activities that will enable access to porn.

  • I neglect family, social, or work obligations to view porn.

  • I continue to use porn despite experiencing negative consequences.

  • I pass up opportunities, or consider passing up opportunities, to have more time to use or view porn.

  • I feel anxious, stressed, or irritable if I’m unable to access porn.

Many of these warning signs echo the behaviours associated with substance abuse disorders, such as isolating in order to engage in viewing porn, or ignoring, replacing, or neglecting significant relationships due to a fixation on pornography.

Porn addicts may find themselves viewing pornographic images or content for hours.

If left untreated, porn addiction can lead to broken or troubled intimate relationships, feelings of shame and guilt, problems with work or school, job loss, financial troubles, and divorce. Many porn addicts also suffer from other mental health issues, such as alcohol or substance use disorders, and mood disorders, such as depression.

SEEKING HELP AND GETTING TREATMENT

Porn addiction treatment and recovery must address the addiction, but it must also work toward changing patterns of behaviours and thoughts that contribute to a porn addiction, and developing relapse prevention skills. 


The first step in getting help is admitting that you have a problem, followed by finding a professional who is experienced in treating porn addiction and is aware of the most effective treatment methods, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). 


It is important to be honest and comprehensive with a therapist. Don’t leave out important details because they are embarrassing or uncomfortable, because they can help guide your treatment plan.


Finally, keep in mind that the therapist is there to help, not judge.

Seeking help and admitting that you are battling a porn addiction can feel embarrassing or humiliating, but to overcome the addiction, you must choose to take that first step toward recovery anyway.

Check out our Addiction Coping Strategy Page.