What are the signs and symptoms of porn addiction?

In almost all cases, pornography can be accessed by anyone and at any time.

In fact, 90 percent of young boys and 60 percent of young women are exposed to pornography before they reach the age of 18, and eight in ten men between the age of 18 and 30 view pornography monthly.

In a society that is beginning to prioritise the internet over the real world, we are starting to become more isolated, lonely and unhappy, and the only resistor to porn is self-control. 

But the internet is self-perpetuating – the more unhappy you are in your life because of things like loneliness, the more likely you are to turn to the internet to make you happy.

In short: we use things like social media and porn to give us the endorphin releases we so crave in real life.

This is a bad thing. The notorious serial killer, Ted Bundy, famously blamed an addiction to pornography as the primary reason for his murders.

On the eve of his execution, he was interviewed by Dr. James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, and said,

‘I’ve lived in prison a long time now. I’ve met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence just like me. And without exception, every one of them was deeply involved in pornography. Without question, without exception, deeply influenced and consumed by addiction to pornography.’

Of course, this is an extreme example. But, often, it is difficult to recognise the impact of a process addiction like porn, and consequently, it can be difficult to make positive change. 

In this blog post, we outline the main symptoms of porn addiction and explain how you can get help.

A need for more explicit content

Sex and porn addiction

Like most addictions, the more porn a person watches, the more tolerant and dependant they will become to it. What might start as a harmless activity can quickly turn ugly, and many people addicted to porn will continually seek more explicit content to satisfy their needs.

The act of a man and woman engaging in passion might once have been enough, but chances are, the category choice of porn will become more explicit as an addiction develops. Passionate and sensual will be swapped for public and amateur, for example.

Objectifying women and men 

An addiction to porn will undoubtedly skew a person’s perspective of people in real life, and many addicts will begin to objectify bodies, forgetting that they are real people with thoughts and feelings.

This objectification has many negative consequences. For example, it’ll affect:

  • The ability to form real relationships.
  • Someone’s ability to be respectful to others.
  • Communication skills and confidence abilities.

Every man and woman should be treated equally and with respect.

A porn addict will likely judge a person based on physical appearance above everything else and will visualise these people in sexual scenarios.

Choosing porn over real life

People with addictions usually become anti-social, putting their own needs and desires before others. This couldn’t be truer of porn addicts.

People with severe addictions to porn will likely opt to watch porn instead of socialising with friends, or choose porn over other daily activities that gets them into the real world. 

This personality trait can be disastrous to existing relationships and will likely mean a person has to lie, deceive and manipulate in order to avoid social situations and get what they want. 

Erectile dysfunction

Desensitising yourself to sex will result in an inability to have it. Porn-induced erectile dysfunction is an unfortunate side effect that many porn addicts face.

It’s likely that the real-life woman won’t live up to the false expectations set by pornography, and consequently, it becomes difficult to perform with someone else. 

You’re living a double life

Sex and porn addiction

In our society, pornography is seen as a dirty secret that is best kept as that: a secret.

Understandably, the taboo of watching others in the act of sex for your own arousal can cause great shame and guilt on the conscience, and many choose not to disclose their habits, regardless of how common those habits are.

For an addict, then, it can be extremely difficult to stop a porn addiction if you hide it away from friends, and many porn addicts will lead a double life.

The issue exists when the desire to watch porn is outweighed by the ability to remain present in that business meeting.

How to overcome a porn addiction

All addictions require the addict to admit to their compulsions. By failing to acknowledge a porn addiction, a person won’t be able to begin to make change and overcome their addiction.

When an addiction like porn affects and disrupts a large part of a person’s life – when it destroys real-life relationships and leads to issues at work and at home – it’s time to see professional help. 

At a rehab centre like Camino Recovery, we use a range of therapies (including group, individual and CBT therapies) to help you develop a new, more positive relationship with sex.

We help you understand how and why you need to prioritise interactions in the real world over interactions online, and how to alter your perspective so that you can begin to build lasting, loving relationships.

Read more about porn addiction here and, if you feel you experience many of these symptoms, be sure to get in touch with us today and find out how we can help. 

David Scourfield

David Scourfield is a Camino Recovery team member since 2017, focused on facilitating communication with Clinical and other professionals to ensure a comprehensive understanding of Camino's program.

Combining his marketing skills and lived experiences, he joined Camino in 2017, contributing to external publications and the Camino website. With a strong belief in solidarity during the recovery process, David helps clients build support networks by connecting them with others in recovery.

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