Porn Addiction: How to Stop Watching Porn in 6 Steps

If you have clicked on this article, you probably feel that your porn-watching habits have gotten a bit out of hand, and you are looking for ways to take back control of your life. 

With porn being so easily accessible online and the limited access to open, honest sex conversations from a young age, it’s no wonder so many people turn to porn to understand more about sex and explore their sexuality. 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with watching porn if you enjoy it, but if you feel you have a porn addiction and would like or need to reduce your porn watching, you’ve come to the right place.

What you need to know about porn addiction 

Before we begin, it is essential to note that porn addiction is not currently a diagnosable addiction, nor does it appear in the DSM-V, which is the current diagnostic manual for mental illness and conditions.

Therefore, if you feel you have a porn addiction, this is a self-diagnosis based on feeling out of control of your habits.

Interestingly, there are some mechanics of addiction that can help understand how porn can become addictive.

When you watch porn, the ‘happy hormone’ dopamine is released into the brain. This is the same hormone that is released when you take drugs, alcohol, have sex, or any other immediate thrill. And that feeling of extreme happiness is addictive. 

So it makes sense that people repeat behaviours that give them a hit of dopamine. And not all behaviours that create dopamine are ‘bad’ for you. Exercise, hugs, and music are just a few of the fun activities that can give you a surge of dopamine.

For most people, addictions are used to cope with negative thoughts and feelings, using the quick and easy hits of dopamine release as a way to feel better.

So if porn addiction isn’t diagnosable by a mental health professional, how do you know if you have it? 

Seven ways to know if your porn viewing habits are problematic 

  1. Intrusive thoughts about porn

If you are constantly interrupted by thoughts and urges to watch porn while you are doing completely different tasks such as hanging out with friends, working, or eating, it can affect your day-to-day functioning. 

  1. Money problems caused by porn 

If you find yourself spending more money than you can afford watching porn or are in debt because of it, this is a red flag sign that your porn viewing is affecting your life. 

  1. Hiding your actions 

A common trait of people suffering from addiction is hiding their behaviour. So if you find that you are constantly finding ways to cover up your porn viewing, it is possible your habit may be out of control. 

  1. Risky behaviour 

Remember that dopamine release thrill we talked about earlier? It’s super addictive. And over time, porn, or any other dopamine-releasing habit repeated continuously, causes the brain to release less dopamine as it comes to expect what is coming and is looking for something new to get a thrill from. 

This opens the door for other risky behaviours like gambling and drugs. So if you find that you’ve recently become riskier with your conduct, it may be time to stop watching porn. 

  1. Your relationships are suffering 

If your porn watching is affecting your relationship with your loved ones, it’s time to stop. This could be always choosing to stay in* and watch porn over socialising or ignoring the needs of your family and friends because you are too focused on when you will next watch porn. 

*it is ok to choose this once in a while; the problem comes when the porn viewing is always a priority. 

  1. You fail to keep commitments 

Are you cancelling appointments and work commitments because you want to stay home and watch porn? Or you simply forget about your obligations because your mind is entirely focused on porn; this is a sign that your porn habits have become problematic. 

  1. You can’t stop watching 

If all you watch is porn all day, every day, and the thought of not watching is anxiety-inducing, this is symptomatic of addiction, and you need to address it before it goes any further and creates more problems. 

Six strategies to stop watching porn 

Thinking about porn addiction treatment? If you have decided that you want or need to stop watching porn, here are six effective ways you can start. 

  1. Understand what you are trying to avoid

Addiction often comes from the avoidance of negative feelings. This means, in order to stop watching, you will need to do some soul searching and try and work out what is bothering you. 

This will not happen overnight; it’s a process that takes a lot of time. But it’s vital if you want to regain control and stop having your life dictated by your porn habits.

You can either try and do this yourself by journaling your feelings and trying to peel back the layers of protection you have undoubtedly, and understandably, wrapped your mind in, or you can seek help from a mental health professional. 

Remember, there is nothing shameful about watching porn, and if you feel you need to reach out for help, you should feel comfortable enough to do so. 

  1. Explore your sexuality in other ways

Many people watch porn as a way to explore their sexuality. What they like or don’t like in sexual encounters. 

If this sounds familiar, try using different means. If you have a partner, see if they would be open to experimenting with you. 

If you want to explore alone, try exploring your own body. For example, you can use your hands or sex toys to discover how you like to be touched and find new ways to orgasm. 

An orgasm will give you that much-needed dopamine shot without the need for porn. 

  1. Use a porn blocker on your web browser

Software developers have been working on helping combat the ease of browsing on the internet to help people block content they don’t feel comfortable with having access to, for whatever their reason may be. 

One such piece of software that exists is porn blockers. This software will stop your internet from loading known porn sites onto your computer so that when you search it, you have a physical barrier you can’t breach. Because as much as you may want to feel strong enough to always avoid it, no-ones will is that iron-clad. 

  1. Avoid your triggers 

There was an interesting study done a few years ago about smokers and their triggers. If you remember, the indoor smoking ban in the U.K came into effect in 2007, but as you can expect, this did not reduce smokers’ addictions.

It was found that smokers who had previously been smoking in pubs with a drink in their hand found that whenever they were subsequently in that same position, they craved cigarettes. And so, for those who wanted to quit smoking they found that it was easier to avoid this scenario. 

The same works with porn. If you find that you have a place or event that triggers you to go and pull up porn on your laptop, it is worth finding ways to avoid it or change it, so it no longer serves as a trigger. 

  1. Replace the habit 

Sometimes we can’t avoid our triggers because they are regular parts of our everyday life. Or maybe you just need something to take the place of watching porn.

That is why it’s a good idea to replace your porn habit with something else. It could be exercise, going for a walk, playing video games – whatever gives you a sense of happiness that can be done easily. 

And the great news is, according to ‘The Power of Habit’ by Charles Duhigg, it is much easier to replace a habit than it is to remove or create a new one. 

  1. Join a support group or seek porn addiction counselling 

You don’t have to do this alone. You may feel isolated, maybe even ashamed, that your porn viewing habits have caused disruption in your life. But you are not the first person to face addiction, and you won’t be the last. Bad intentions rarely cause addiction; it’s usually just unhelpful coping mechanisms. 

By joining a support group, or seeking porn addiction counselling, you will find other people in a similar situation than you that you can lean on for support.

In more extreme cases, porn addiction therapy may be the best action.

Check out this TedX talk from Eli Nash about escaping porn addiction: 

Final thoughts

Tackling addiction is a difficult and long battle with porn addiction recovery. Some days will be more challenging than others, so it is vital to be kind to yourself.

One slip up doesn’t mean failure – forgive yourself and move on. And if you feel you are unable to do it alone, please seek professional help if you need it. 

And know that by reading this article and trying to stop your habit, you’ve already taken the brave first step, so make sure you congratulate yourself.

You are capable of more than you think, so take it a step at a time and allow yourself to make mistakes on the way. Slowly but surely, you will see improvement and regain the control you once lost.

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