While pornography has always been here and has always been controversial, it has gained heightened attention over the past few decades due to the rise of what many now call “porn addiction.” Although porn addiction isn’t an official diagnosis recognized by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), many doctors still consider it to be a potentially serious disorder that can have a negative impact on people’s lives. According to a 2019 study, prevalence rates for porn addiction range from 3% to 6%, and with the rise of new technologies, it has become easier than ever for addiction to start.
One of the biggest problems with porn addiction is that, like most forms of addiction, people often don’t realize that they have porn problems until they’ve been “using” for a long time. First-time users often get a lot of enjoyment and don’t see much in the way of negative repercussions. However, over time, people go from casual viewers to regular viewers, and then from regular viewers to obsessives. By this point, porn usage becomes such a natural part of your daily life that you often don’t even recognize how unnatural your behavior is.
Are you worried that you or someone you know might have a porn problem? Look out for these common signs.
- Inability to stop watching
The most obvious sign. Some people become so addicted to pornography that they couldn’t go a day without viewing some, even if they wanted to. It becomes less of a “want” and more of a physical or psychological “need” that they fulfill.
- Lost time
When someone is addicted to porn, they can wind up spending long periods of time doing nothing by watching, sometimes for hours. This can result in them wasting their day without accomplishing anything, which leads to conflicts both at home and at work.
- Lack of interest in sex
It might seem counterintuitive, but when someone becomes addicted to porn, they actually lose interest in real sex. Pornography often depicts sex in an exaggerated and idealized way, which can leave addicts feeling let down by the real thing. This can result in them developing unrealistic ideas about sex, finding their partner less attractive, and becoming emotionally distant when they try to engage with them sexually.
- Erectile dysfunction
Even if porn addict is interested in having sexual relations with their partner, sometimes they physically can’t. Porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED) is a relatively new diagnosis for erectile dysfunction that specifically refers to cases where men have trouble maintaining erections due to heavy porn use.
- Signs of depression and other mental health issues
The pleasure people feel when watching porn mostly comes from dopamine being released by the neurotransmitters in their brain. This pleasure is short-lived though and eventually falls to the wayside, often leaving people with symptoms that are typically associated with depression: fatigue, lack of focus, brain fog, loss of interest in things you used to enjoy, feelings of isolation, etc.
- Anger and frustration
Like any addiction, someone suffering from porn addiction will become easily irritable if they go without porn. They may have less patience in their daily lives, especially if they see certain activities as something delaying them from watching more porn. They can become irritable, more demanding, or even erratic in their behavior.
Be aware that just because someone’s viewed or even enjoys porn doesn’t automatically mean they are addicted. But despite what many have claimed, porn viewing isn’t harmless. It can easily lead to relationship issues, low self-esteem, and compulsive behavior. Recognizing the potential harm can help you avoid going down that path.
Yet even if you are currently struggling with porn addiction, don’t despair. Recognizing it is the first step towards recovery! It might not be easy, but there are many resources out there for you, from porn addiction hotlines like SAMHSA National Helpline and Sex Addicts Anonymous to internet filtering software like Clean Internet.
Remember, no matter who you are, you can quit porn.