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Porn Addiction: The Human Brain on Porn

Porn Addiction: The Human Brain on Porn

Porn addiction - Dr. Axe

Can you remember laughing at the kids on TV sitcoms who found that “special channel” late at night and tried to decipher sexy shapes from the static? I didn’t pay much attention to it then, but it now seems pornography — and the complications of it, like porn addiction — should be more concerning than ever. And porn addiction problems don’t just affect the individual in front of the screen, either. Families, friends and work relationships are at risk, too, along with overall mental health.

For decades, the subject of pornography has been hotly debated and extensively researched. In 1986, before the Internet was widely available to the public, the Surgeon General stated in a report that:

“A panel of clinicians and researchers concluded that pornography does stimulate attitudes and behavior that lead to gravely negative consequences for individuals and for society and that these outcomes impair the mental, emotional, and physical health of children and adults.” (1)

This debate is made more complex by the fact that the American Psychiatric Association does not currently recognize pornography addiction or sex addiction in the most recent version of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or the DSM-5.

Does that mean the science isn’t there? Well, not exactly. Sex is a fairly taboo topic when it comes to governmental regulations and clinical classifications. Why? Partly because there’s major concern that creating such a diagnosis could be used by certain religious or other groups to suppress sexual expression the group finds reprehensible. It could also give people excuses not to deal with their own deviant behavior. That’s the viewpoint of popular sex therapist Marty Klein, PhD, an outspoken opponent of the concept of sex and porn addiction. (2)

The U.S. has lagged behind other countries in dealing with this issue. South Korea, China and Japan have already recognized “tech addiction,” with pornography addiction as a subcategory. Those places see porn addiction as a real disorder and even a “public health crisis.” In August of 2017, the National Institute of Health finally offered funding for a study large enough to potentially create solid evidence for the development of “internet gaming disorder,” the (currently) most researched form of internet addiction (gaming addiction is the only one listed in the index of the DSM for future scrutiny). (3)

A huge body of research does exist already about the effects of porn on the brain, though. (4) One porn-related study defines addiction as “the continued use of mood-altering addicting substances or behaviors despite adverse consequences,” which lines up with the stories many counselors and therapists report hearing from patients concerned with excessive pornography use. (5)

There is a problem with the kind of research usually needed for official recognition of a disorder, though: almost no one has not already seen hard-core porn. A 2009 study at the University of Montreal was cancelled because the researcher literally couldn’t find enough control volunteers who hadn’t been exposed to such content. (6)

But … does it matter? Who cares what you do on your own time, particularly with such a supposedly “victimless” act?

It absolutely does matter. Porn use is associated with more sexual encounters (both casual and relational), lower age of first sexual encounter, less relationship and sexual satisfaction, sexual deviance and acceptance of the “rape myth,” a false understanding of sexual assault that serves to justify sexual aggression. (7, 8) On a health spectrum, excessive pornography viewing is correlated with decreased brain mass, erectile dysfunction, mood disorders and more. 

So, how does this happen? What are the real dangers? And how can you naturally treat porn addiction?


What Is Porn? And Is Porn Addiction Real?

Merriam-Webster defines pornography as “the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement.” In other words, these demonstrations are meant to cause you to become sexually aroused, rather than evoke a certain emotional response.

The subject of whether porn addiction is even real remains a touchy one for many clinicians. If it is a diagnosable problem, what exactly is the problem?

Some studies find excessive use of pornography for masturbation to fit in a “compulsion” category, rather than classifying it as an addiction. (9, 10) That gets into the difference between a compulsion and an addiction. People performing compulsions, like in obsessive-compulsive disorder, usually know that the behavior is useless or even harmful.

Addictions, however are often situations in which the person does not realize the behavior is dangerous and often argues they are “just having fun” until faced with significantly negative consequences and find they still engage in the same activity. Other research reflects this addiction model. (11)

The next question is, what kind of addiction would this be? There seem to be distinctions between traditional sex addiction and porn addiction, namely, that sex addicts are generally identified by having physical sexual interactions with live humans, regardless of consequences, and porn addiction is more about masturbation and digital indulgence, not interpersonal. (12)

Most people agree that porn would be a behavioral addiction that exists as a subcategory to “Internet Addiction,” an indexed potential disorder listed in the DSM-V. (13) There are also arguments that behavioral addictions as a whole aren’t real, but science is coming around on that point as well, since preliminary research finds that the brains of people viewing excessive pornography look similar to the brains of substance addicts. (14, 15, 15b)

There are many studies (mostly in animals) that have found a connection between a protein that acts as a transcription factor in the reward system of the brain called ΔFosB (Delta FosB) and porn addiction (as well as substance addiction). ΔFosB uses the same brain pathways to give reward to sexual release as substance addiction does to the consumption of the addictive substance. (16, 17) Because it accumulates in neurons, ΔFosB has an increasing effect as long as the same behaviors are continually performed over time.

This creates a powerful “learning and memory” exercise for the brain, which then rewires the way the brain responds to the desire for porn and the reaction to the desire to see it. Neuroplasticity plays a large part in addiction.

Dr. Donald L. Hilton gives this explanation of the current understanding of neuroplasticity, ΔFosB and addiction and makes a plea to recognize pornography addiction:

“Rather than focusing on whether the addictive behavior involves injecting drugs or viewing highly arousing sexual images, an increased knowledge of cellular mechanisms allows us to understand that addiction involves and alters biology at the synaptic level, which then affects subsequent behavior.” (18)

Hilton is also well-known for pointing out the issue of the types of studies the APA claims to want in order to prove the reality of porn addiction — he likens it to smoking cigarettes, stating that even the tobacco executives who still claim cigarettes aren’t addictive aren’t likely to support research that takes a group of children, divides them in half, and gives half of them cigarettes to see the results.

The Witherspoon Institute conducted a review in 2010 on the reality of pornography addiction and, with a group of professionals from virtually every religious, non-religious and cultural background, determined that the social costs of the poor regulation of online porn are now too large to ignore. (19)

“Ubiquitous” is a word often associated with pornography in the 21st century, as it is “found everywhere.” Porn consumption rates stand between 50 to 99 percent among men, according to various studies, and 30 to 86 percent among women. The majority of porn users report feeling “fine” about their behavior, and many people still believe it to be a positive activity for sexual education, spicing up romance and personal satisfaction. (20)

I am not a psychiatrist or counselor, but I think it seems clear that science backs the “theory” of porn addiction as a real and problematic issue that needs real treatment.


History of Pornography

As far back into history as 5200 BC, archaeologists unearthed a statue of a man and woman having sex. (Like I said, erotica is nothing new.) The excavation of the site of the Mount Vesuvius eruption in 79 AD revealed hundreds of explicit sculptures and frescoes enjoyed by the ancient Romans. For centuries, sexually charged books have been written (and subsequently banned by the Vatican and certain countries) to tickle the fancies of readers.

The first record of the English word “pornography” occurred in the 1857 edition of Robley Dunglison’s Medical Lexicon: A Dictionary of Medical Science. In 1899, the first known soft-hcore erotic film was produced in France.

Denmark was the first country to legalize pornography in 1969. The U.S. then defined obscenity (via the 1973 Miller v. California Supreme Court decision) and essentially rendered mainstream porn as indecent but not “obscene,” a term that would describe “entertainment” based more on illegal acts (such as pedophilia) than just indecent ones. (21)

Then, the Internet happened.

As far back as the early 1990s, pornographic websites became available on home computers, eliminating the shame found from purchasing a Playboy at the corner store. The Internet started providing access to video of sex acts with virtually no oversight. This is especially significant because a 1988 study had already found that video pornography was much more stimulating than static images that made up the bulk of available media before the Internet boom. (22)

Porn addiction - Dr. Axe

In 1997, less than 1,000 pornography sites existed online. That number continued to grow and exploded after the dawn of YouTube, which inspired a large number of “PornTube” imitation sites, offering short and often free teasers of hard-core content designed to drive users to paying sites. The first one launched in September 2006. By 2015, a popular filter software logged more than 2.5 million porn sites.

As Rob Weiss, an addiction counselor who founded the Sexual Recovery Institute, puts it: “With a single visit to an adult video site like Pornhub, you can see more naked bodies in a single minute than the most promiscuous Victorian would have seen in an entire lifetime.” (23)

It’s now estimated that 13 percent of search engine requests involve erotic content. Today, porn users create more traffic than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined every month. And did you know 11 of the world’s top 300 most popular websites are porn. A whopping 35 percent of online downloads are pornographic in nature, and this industry now accounts for about $97 billion worldwide each year, with about $12 billion originating in the U.S.

Just in 2016, the world’s largest porn site reported more than 4,599,000,000 hours watched that year. (24)

I want you to let that sink in for a moment: in 2016, one site clocked users watching hard-core porn of all types for a total of 525,000 cumulative years.


The Porn Addiction Epidemic

Those stats should shock you, and for good reason. The entire fabric of the way people have historically been exposed to sex and intimacy has been ripped apart and recreated in less than three decades. And we still have little understanding of potential long-term impacts.

What do we know? Well, porn affects sexual expectations, with men in particular desiring more “perfect” partners than their real-life ones. They also often model their sexual behavior after what they view in porn and want to recreate. (25)

According to Norman Doidge, MD, pornography’s effect on our sexual preferences and development is alarming. When the brain processes porn, it starts wanting and needing progressively more deviant content. He says in his book, The Brain That Changes Itself:

“The current porn epidemic gives a graphic demonstration that sexual tastes can be acquired. Pornography, delivered by high-speed Internet connections, satisfies every one of the prerequisites for neuroplastic change…. When pornographers boast that they are pushing the envelope by introducing new, harder themes, what they don’t say is that they must, because their customers are building up a tolerance to the content … Pornography, by offering an endless harem of sexual objects, hyper-activates the appetitive system. Porn viewers develop new maps in their brains, based on the photos and videos they see. Because it is a use-it-or-lose-it brain, when we develop a map area, we long to keep it activated. Just as our muscles become impatient for exercise if we’ve been sitting all day, so too our senses hunger to be stimulated.”

I refer to porn addiction as an “epidemic” on purpose — whereas, in my childhood, you would have been hard-pressed to consume multiple hours of video porn on a daily basis, it’s now estimated that 64 percent of people between the ages of 13 to 24 seek out pornography at least once a week. And it’s available in a matter of less than 30 seconds on the devices that almost everyone carries with them. (26)

A popular anti-porn site, Your Brain on Porn, explains that our brains aren’t prepared for the volume of porn often consumed in the modern age. We simply weren’t created to consume this much novel content without it affecting our brain chemistry. (27)


How Do You Get Addicted to Porn?!

The cause of porn addiction is basically similar to other forms of addiction/substance abuse, including what we’re seeing with the opioid epidemicWhen you’re exposed to porn, your brain’s “reward circuitry” releases a massive blast of dopamine.

Why does this happen? Because your body wants to motivate you to serve your genes, including by procreating. Your brain doesn’t properly separate the concept of masturbating to porn from having sex with a real, live person — if orgasm is achieved, your brain decides it wants more of it.

Sexual stimulation causes the largest natural dopamine release your body can create. And while people think of dopamine as a “pleasure chemical,” it’s really better described as a desire chemical: it creates the “wanting” of rewards, which is never totally satisfied, even when the “reward” is something you find objectionable when thinking clearly (such as shooting up heroin or watching degrading porn).

This is multiplied by the current porn epidemic because of a phenomenon called the Coolidge effect. In both (primarily male, but sometimes female) animals and humans, the brain and body respond vigorously to novel mates (new and different sexual partners). Over time, you can get used to the same sexual partner, say, in a marriage, and potentially become less aroused by that partner. However, introducing a completely new partner will bump your arousal up to 100 percent again. (28, 29)

Novelty and reward are processed through separate brain circuits contain in the larger reward system. Both processes are stimulated by watching porn, which causes an elevated level of physical excitement, a dose of ΔFosB and a more solidified brain pathway, which then wants to repeat that behavior. (30)

It really isn’t all that surprising, then, that those performing compulsive sexual behaviors like excessive masturbation to porn show the same kind of brain cue responses as drug addicts. (31, 32)

The late Victor Cline, PhD, was a clinical psychologist specializing in sexual addiction. He outlined four phases he observed in those addicted to porn. (33)

  1. Addiction: First, the patient begins watching more and more porn, masturbating and wiring his or her brain to desire repeated exposure to the stimuli, creating an addiction pattern.
  2. Escalation: Second, more frequent exposure to porn is needed to achieve satisfaction (a key component of all addictions), and the user may start to prefer watching porn to sexual intimacy with his or her partner.
  3. Desensitization: At this point, porn addicts can no longer be stimulated by the content they used to watch. They may then make their way into darker corners of sexual deviance, watching content they once found reprehensible in order to satisfy their need for novel stimuli.
  4. Acting Out: For some users, the porn they watch may eventually not even be enough to arouse them, at which point they may engage in risky sexual behavior.

When you’re addicted to anything, there will be certain external and/or internal triggers that are likely to cause a heightened desire to satisfy your craving. For porn addicts, these commonly include things such as: (34)

  • Boredom
  • Loneliness
  • Anger
  • Fear/anxiety
  • Sadness/grief/depression
  • Stress
  • Shame
  • Frustration
  • Feeling unloved, unwanted or unappreciated
  • Travel (especially alone)
  • Failed relationships
  • Unstructured alone time
  • Negative life experiences (any kind)
  • Positive life experiences (any kind)
  • Unexpected life changes (any kind)
  • Substance use/abuse
  • Unexpected exposure to sexual stimuli (encountering someone you are attracted to, driving past an adult store or strip club, seeing a sexual scene in a TV show, and so on)
  • Financial difficulties
  • Arguments
  • Family dissonance

As you can see, this broad range of triggers would be impossible to avoid all the time. That’s why it’s so important to recognize the signs of porn addiction in those you love and do what you can to help them break free.


5 Signs Your Loved One Has a Porn Addiction

Like all addictions, you may be able to spot behavior patterns that indicate someone you love is experiencing porn addiction. Some of these are reflected in all addictions, and others are specific to pornography addiction.

1. They experience personality and behavior changes.

A sexually addicted spouse may no longer be able to enjoy or engage in things they once found normal. One source defines this as “a shift in mood, attitude and motivation.” (35) It’s one of the major warning signs of addiction but may be related to other issues, including physical or mental illness.

Some types of personality changes may include increased aggression, giving up hobbies or favorite activities, completely changing preferred hangout spots and friend groups or a decrease in enthusiasm for previously enjoyed experiences.

Porn addiction - Dr. Axe

2. They become more secretive and regularly lie or hide what they’re doing.

The shame of addiction often pushes people into secretive behaviors to conceal what they don’t want their friends and family to know.

This may include things like:

  • Sudden changes in money spending
  • Excessive isolated time behind closed/locked doors
  • Lying about location and concealing online activity
  • Deleting all search history or using “incognito” browser modes

One way this commonly plays out? An obsession with privacy. A porn-addicted loved one may refuse to let others touch their phone or computer, and become angry and heated when they find out someone accessed their phone or computer without his or her permission. They may refuse to share passwords or pin numbers to their electronic devices.

3. They act hostile or defensive if asked to stop.

Another porn addiction side effect may include a strongly negative response when your loved one is asked to stop looking at porn. Because so many people find it a harmless act, it’s not always concealed, but if you lovingly ask your partner to stop using it and they become very upset, it may be a sign they have become addicted.

In other cases, addicts will defensively say that they either are not addicted to it or deny that it is a problem, justifying their actions and becoming angry that you have a problem with it. Other behaviors may include becoming irritable or anxious if denied access to their phone or computer.

4. They are unable to stop using porn, despite negative consequences.

This is a cornerstone of addiction — if you try to stop and cannot, in spite of the bad things that happen if you continue your behavior, it’s a major sign you might be addicted (to anything). Porn is no different. Many addicts report feeling like they live double lives. Feeling powerless and unable to stop masturbating to porn but still attempting to maintain normal activities is common.

Two somewhat common examples are workplace porn use and broken relationships. If you lose a job or relationship due to porn use but keep using porn anyway, it’s a sign of addiction. (36)

5. They need more time or more explicit pornography to become aroused.

While the concealment of their actions may prevent you being aware of this, another feature of porn addiction involves the increased time spent viewing these videos. While not every porn addict spends multiple hours every day watching porn (and “excessive use” varies for different people), this is a fairly common occurrence.

Here’s what’s probably most concerning, though. Porn addicts typically need to access darker types of pornography. Your sexually addicted spouse may be a heterosexual male, now unable to achieve erection or orgasm while watching conventional pornography of a man and woman copulating. He may even seek out imagery of sex acts he once found disgusting. 


Dangers of Pornography Addiction

Your brain on porn isn’t pretty.

There’s no debating it: Pornography alters brain chemistry. Research in both animals and humans outline how porn affects the brain. But there are no extremely large, long-term studies to observe these effects.

Your Brain on Porn did curate all studies that reflect these brain changes. This includes 37 neurological studies, consistent with the results of more than 240 Internet addiction “brain studies.”  Thirteen recent reviews based on neuroscience all seem to come to the same conclusion: porn addiction is real, and it changes your brain. (37)

Why? Well, one reason is that pesky Coolidge effect. In monkeys, more frequent novel stimuli is required to get the same level of dopamine they experienced during the first time engaging in a behavior. That’s because the dopamine reuptake decreases with every use of the stimuli, indicating that these monkey brains became more dependent on seeking novel stimuli to satisfy cravings. They were also less likely to choose familiar stimuli. (38)

We see the same thing in humans. The more porn viewed, the faster users acclimate to the content, rewiring the brain to need more pornography. (39)

Your brain on porn also wants more deviant and previously unattractive media. When your reward system learns the “release” it gets when you view something new and different, it associates arousal with that stimuli, increasing your hunger for something you’ve never seen. (40) Many compulsive porn users self-report a development of deviant fetishes and fantasies they never contemplated before experiencing porn addiction. One exploratory study found that 49 percent of the men interviewed reported looking for fetishized porn they previously saw as reprehensible. (41)

This is the neurochemical process that can turn a previously respectable family man into someone who secretly tries to find images of children being violated. Why? His brain no longer responds to the hard-core porn featuring  consensual adult sex. Why does this happen? Moderate porn use (not even to the level that the typical researcher would term “addictive”)  is associated with lower amounts of gray matter in the striatum of the brain. (42

It’s not clear whether this is a precondition of watching porn, or the wearing down of the brain’s reward system over time. However, this matches the way gray matter dwindles in people addicted to opiates. (43)

And, as you may have guessed, lower gray matter in these parts of the brain is related to a lowering of natural inhibitions. (44)

You may develop symptoms of erectile dysfunction.

In September 2016, scientists published a review investigating erectile dysfunction in porn users. The general thought? The rising rates of sexual dysfunction and low libido in men under 40 is related to excessive porn use. (45)

However, unlike traditional ED, the pornography-triggered impotence is not physical, but mental.

Here’s the common progression:

  • A porn user notices it takes longer to ejaculate while masturbating to porn.
  • Then, getting and sustaining an  erection with a real-life sexual partner becomes difficult. 
  • Still, erections while watching pornography are still possible.
  • Finally, someone with porn addiction may become unable to sustain an erection even while watching porn.

Scientists observed this effect even otherwise healthy, sexually active adolescents who watch porn and masturbate very frequently. (46)

The good news? This seems to be reversible in most circumstances. After “detoxing” from porn, many sexually addicted people are able to “rewire”  their brains to normal sexual interaction with long-term partners.

Porn addiction is associated with other mood and mental problems.

Like with other addictions, pornography addiction is co-identified with other mental issues and mood dysfunctions. (47) Sometimes adolescents are embarrassed of their porn use and develop antisocial and depressive behavior. (48)

But don’t these qualities seem completely opposite of the “high” one gets from watching porn? Here’s what could be happening: norepinephrine, epinephrine and cortisol intensify excitement while amplifying the effects of dopamine on the brain. (49) Combining fear and anxiety with erotic material increases stimulation, implying that, eventually, you may start to misinterpret feelings of anxiety or fear as sexual arousal. (50)

One assessment of 450 individuals found that the more frequently a person viewed porn, the higher they ranked on a scale to measure depression. People who reported daily porn watching averaged a score equating to severe depression, and those watching three to five times a week scored in the moderate depression range. (51)

Your relationships may be damaged.

This one might be painfully obvious, but porn is actually pretty bad for relationships. That’s probably because it distorts the way intimate relationships are viewed and stewarded, as porn-addicted spouses (often unintentionally) try to bring their real-life sexual relationships in line with the produced versions they spend so much time watching.

Young women whose male partners frequently use porn report lower self-esteem, relationship quality and sexual satisfaction. (52)

Regular porn watching is also associated with infidelity — one study found a 318 percent higher likelihood that people who participated in extramarital affairs watch porn frequently. (53) An oft-quoted statistic from a 2005 meeting of a group of American matrimony lawyers found 56 percent of divorce cases included major complaints about the other spouse’s internet use, including porn, and that 68 percent of the cases involved meeting a new love interest online. (54)

It’s not just about divorce, though: in general, porn use decreases overall sexual satisfaction and lowers sexual desire, particularly for men. (55) Interestingly, some studies find that female use of porn can actually increase sexual satisfaction, although women use it primarily as part of a shared experience rather than alone. There are also differences in the type of porn watched — women tend to prefer “romantic” versions, while men often stick to video devoid of faces or normal human interaction. (56)

Porn addiction might also make you dissatisfied with your partner — with their affection, their appearance and their sexual proclivities and performance. (57)

Porn addiction is associated with systemic cultural issues including sexism, sexual assault and sex trafficking.

For years, it’s been clear to many major organization that readily available, hard-core pornography is not good for society. While these problems are often complicated by religious or financial interests, reviews consistently link porn to societal problems.

Watching porn is associated with sexist attitudes and, in some cases, has been connected causally in research. This means that the porn itself actually causes the attitudes, not the other way around. (58, 59, 60) That’s probably why some of the earliest opponents of Internet porn were feminists, as it contributes to anti-female feelings in many men.

Connected to this, pornography videos often contain violent physical and verbal aggression. One assessment found 88.2 percent of videos included in the study featured physical aggression, with females almost always the victims of such aggression (although they typically responded neutrally or positively in such videos). (61)

More and more research supports the idea that watching porn is connected with positive attitudes toward violence against women, with heavy porn users admitting frequently sexually harassing women or forcing them to have sex. (62, 63, 64)

Possibly in response to this, young women tend to practice riskier sexual behavior when in environments where they and the young men around them consume a lot of porn, including:

  • Frequent anal and oral sex (even when the females reported they do not enjoy these acts)
  • Infrequent use of condoms or other birth control
  • Group sex (65, 66, 67)

A 2000 meta-analysis of 46 studies (before the current porn boom) stated the studies “provide clear evidence confirming the link between increased risk for negative development when exposed to pornography. These results suggest that the research in this area can move beyond the question of whether pornography has an influence on violence and family functioning.” (68)

Because of the escalation many porn addicts find themselves seeking as they “wear out” their brain’s reward systems, pornography use and addiction is also associated with deviant forms of pornography, including child pornography. (69) One study found that “research evidence are accumulating to suggest that the Internet is not simply drawing attention to those with existing paedophilic interests, but is contributing to the crystallisation of those interests in people with no explicit prior sexual interest in children.” (70)

Finally, the porn industry is a huge part of the sex trafficking epidemic in the modern world, which is just one more reason to get it out of your life. (71, 72)


Natural Ways to Treat Porn Addiction

1. Quit — cold turkey.

Addiction recovery requires removing the offending behavior from your life. If you simply online decrease porn use, you’ll continue to solidify your broken brain maps.

Many experts suggest quitting all sexual activity for a period of time, not just porn watching and masturbation, but also taking a break from sexual relations with your partner, in order to “detox” your brain from sexual stimuli.

This isn’t easy to do alone, though … which brings me to the next step.

2. Ask for accountability.

It takes a far braver man or woman to ask for help in overcoming their addiction than one who suffers in silence. While this may come in the form of friends and family, it can often be difficult for your spouse or friends to understand the issues you’re going through. 

However, there are a ton of options for online and in-person support, including Sexual Addicts Anonymous (a 12-step program modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous), NoFap, Fight The New Drug and RebootNation.

3. See a qualified therapist.

One of the best medication-free methods for dealing with porn addiction is cognitive behavioral therapy, performed by a therapist familiar with the theories of sex and porn addiction. Many studies show extremely positive results when using cognitive behavioral therapy to talk through and re-work brain maps, triggers and coping mechanisms. (73, 74)

While there is not yet an official definition for sex or pornography addiction, a number of screening and inventory tools have been developed to assess the level of addiction a person is experiencing when it comes to porn. (75, 76, 77, 78)

One research piece suggestions that a comprehensive treatment plan would include relapse prevention, the enhancement of real-life intimacy, love map reconstruction, arousal reconditioning and developing coping skills. (79)

You may also find it useful to see a family or couples therapist to repair damage done within your family and/or significant other.

4. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and exercise regularly.

Because of all the complications with porn addiction and related mood and mental disorders, it’s possible that improving your body chemistry as a whole may help to decrease some of the negative effects pornography can create. Focus on a healing diet and reap the benefits of exercise to give your body the best chance of beating your addiction and finding wholeness again.


Final Thoughts on Porn Addiction

  • Addiction to pornography is a complex problem with far-reaching effects on the brain of an individual, as well as the health of society as a whole.
  • Although pornography in various forms has existed for millennia, the last few decades ushered in a boom of available pornographic material unlike anything in history.
  • If you believe your spouse or loved one is suffering from pornography addiction, don’t be afraid to speak up.
  • If you are suffering yourself, ask for help and RUN away from porn and instead seek a fulfilling intimate relationship with your significant other and a healthy, lasting family.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy is a cornerstone of recovering from porn addiction.

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Can you remember laughing at the kids on TV sitcoms who found that “special channel” late at night and tried to decipher sexy shapes from the static? I didn’t pay much attention to it then, but it now seems pornography — and the complications of it, like porn addiction — should be more concerning than… Read more »

Rebekah EdwardsDr. AxeDecember 1, 2017