Seven signs you might have a porn addiction

What’s one thing people do when they’re bored?

Smash one out.

This festive week ahead, between a rotation of leftover turkey sandwiches and Netflix shows, there’s going to be a lot of time to browse the internet – and your genitalia.

And it’s normal to question what is a ‘healthy’ amount of porn consumption.

Recently, Billie Eilish admitted that watching porn at a young age ‘destroyed’ her brain.

So how do you know when it is too much?

Delamere addiction treatment professional Martin Preston explains: ‘Addictions are considered medical conditions that can negatively affect both the body and the brain.

‘Individuals suffering from an addiction can feel compelled to do everything in their power to acquire the thing that they are addicted to.

‘Porn addiction refers to when a person develops a genuine emotional dependence on pornography. They may even take it to the extreme point that it interferes with their daily routine and relationships.’

Watching porn can trigger the release of dopamine. Over time, the dopamine response can become less intense, causing some people to chase the pleasure dopamine creates more – though there are plenty of other reasons as to why an addiction might start.

‘It is difficult for someone to determine exactly when watching pornography, even frequently, has developed into a genuine addiction,’ Martin says.

However, these are seven key signs you might have an addition.

Sex becomes less satisfying

When a person develops a porn addiction, their sex life in the real world can become less satisfying – it can never fulfil the ‘idea’ of sex that is influenced by porn.

Martin says: ‘A person’s expectations of sex can become entirely unrealistic, and they can even find themselves pushing for riskier forms of sex such as suffocation or strangulation.

‘A person might even seek out sex with multiple partners in an attempt to live out the sexual fantasies conceptualised by pornography.’

Prioritising porn

Martin says: ‘Someone struggling with a pornography addiction will almost always consider watching porn to be one of their priorities and therefore disregard their everyday tasks.

‘This is where porn consumption begins to negatively impact the individual’s life.’

It can lead to someone letting go of daily chores and tasks they need to get done, as well as stepping back from their social life.

Depression and exhaustion can also take hold.

Taking more risks to watch porn

Someone might begin taking increasingly riskier opportunities to view content.

Martin explains: ‘A porn addict may find themselves watching porn in the workplace or a public setting, such as public transport.

‘Despite knowing that the consequences of being caught such content in public would be severe, the individual may find that they are unable to resist the temptation.

‘The taboo act of watching porn in a risky setting may even provide the individual with an added thrill.’

Feelings of frustration

‘If a person is feeling ashamed or frustrated with the amount of pornography they are watching, but find themselves unable to limit their time spent watching porn, then it is likely they have a porn addiction,’ Martin says.

Financial impact

If a person has been affected financially through spending large sums, it could suggest a genuine problem with porn consumption.

Martin says this is especially true if they are ‘prioritising spending on porn over other expenses such as rent, bills, food and family.’

Delving into the taboo

‘When a person has consumed an overload of pornographic content, the idea of “regular” less extreme pornography may no longer provide the satisfaction that it once did.

‘A porn addict is more likely to begin viewing progressively more violent, controversial or taboo forms of porn, as they chase the feeling of a dopamine release,’ Martin says.

The problem with addiction is that the source will never be truly fulfilling.

Porn as a coping mechanism

Sometimes porn can act as escapism.

Martin says: ‘A person suffering from insomnia may get addicted to porn as a result of watching pornographic videos to distract from the fact that they cannot sleep.

‘Likewise, a person suffering from depression or anxiety may view watching porn as a means of escapism and get addicted that way.

‘However, overly obsessive porn consumption can only make these pre-existing conditions feel worse in the long run.’

What can you do to treat porn addiction?

Martin says: ‘There is still much debate in the medical world as to whether an individual’s obsessive interest in pornography is less of an addiction and more of a compulsion.

‘The key difference is that addictions chase a sense of reward and compulsions chase a sense of relief.’

If you need help, options include therapy and counselling.

You can also try to lead a more active lifestyle to limit screen time and opportunities to watch porn. For example, you might install anti-porn software or blanket-blocking porn sites on your electronic devices.

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