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Updated on November 28, 2022

Porn Addiction Therapy

What is Porn Addiction?

Porn addiction refers to the compulsive need to consume pornography. 

Most people consume porn. International research puts consumption rates at 50 percent to 99 percent among male viewers and 30 percent to 86 percent among female viewers.8

About 11 percent of men and three percent of women at least somewhat agree that they’re addicted to pornography.4

Many debate the validity of porn addiction. Neither the American Psychiatric Association (APA) nor the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders considers porn addiction a mental health disorder or concern like a substance use disorder.

However, an obsession with porn can take a toll on one’s mental health and, ultimately, their relationships.

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Is Porn Addiction Harmless?

Viewing porn can be harmless for many people. But any obsession or compulsive behavior can hurt one’s mental health. 

Some sex addicts rely on sexual stimulation to release dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. While ejaculation is associated with increased serotonin, dopamine levels drop after.

Some people who excessively watch porn may have mood swings due to the changes in their “happy hormones.”

A sex addiction, including a pornography addiction, can affect intimate relationships, too.

Many people with an internet pornography addiction feel ashamed and try to hide it from their partners. They may lie to their partners about watching it. Dishonesty is problematic in intimate relationships that require trust.

Some people who excessively masturbate to pornography may also have low sex drives. This can affect their sexual relationships with their partners. Some may experience sexual dysfunction during partnered sexual activity.3

Because X-rated content on the internet is for entertainment, partnered sex can feel unexciting. Pornography addictions can strain sexual relationships. 

Research shows that people with compulsive internet pornography use engage in more sexually riskier behaviors. This can lead to an increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases.2

Therapy for Porn Addiction

There are various porn addiction treatment options for anyone fighting a pornography addiction.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that helps you recognize problematic patterns, identify triggers, and find healthier coping methods.

CBT can help treat behavioral addictions, including addictions to internet pornography and compulsive sexual behaviors.  

Group Therapy

Group therapy can help those who want to connect with others in their shoes. Group therapy brings people with similar struggles together to share their experiences, coping mechanisms, and more.

Group therapy can help someone battling a porn addiction feel less alone.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is similar to CBT. It aims to help you identify toxic thought patterns that may cause addictive behaviors. Unlike some CBT, ACT focuses on acceptance as a method of managing those thoughts.

ACT can be helpful when struggling with porn addiction. Acceptance can be a crucial first step in the recovery process.

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Alternative Treatments for Porn Addiction

There are also alternative treatments for porn addiction, other than therapies.

Medication

There are no medications that are currently approved to treat porn addiction.

In certain cases, an addiction to pornography or other sex addictions can be linked to mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

In these cases, porn addiction recovery may require medication to treat the associated disorders. A doctor may prescribe antidepressants or mood stabilizers.

Support Groups

There are support groups to help people who struggle with porn addiction.

Porn Addicts Anonymous is a popular option for support groups for people with porn addictions.1 Flyleaf Counseling is another option. One of its services is for men struggling with porn addiction.7

Men’s Group is a men-only online support group. It’s not a support group specifically for those with porn addictions. It’s for men looking to connect with others to conquer mental health issues. This includes porn addiction.6

Interventions

If your partner or someone you know is dealing with a porn addiction, an intervention may be able to help. Sitting down to express your concerns can help call attention to the problem.5 

Summary

Whether or not porn addiction is real is up for debate. Nevertheless, an obsession with porn can take a toll on one’s mental health and relationships.

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Resources

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  1. Anonymous, Porn Addicts. “Paa: Home - Porn Addicts Anonymous.” PAA | Home - Porn Addicts Anonymous
  2. Camilleri, Christina, et al. “Compulsive Internet Pornography Use and Mental Health: A Cross-Sectional Study in a Sample of University Students in the United States.” Frontiers, Frontiers.
  3. de Alarcón, Rubén, et al. “Online Porn Addiction: What We Know and What We Don't-A Systematic Review.” Journal of Clinical Medicine, MDPI.
  4. Grubbs, Joshua B, et al. “Self-Reported Addiction to Pornography in a Nationally Representative Sample: The Roles of Use Habits, Religiousness, and Moral Incongruence.” Journal of Behavioral Addictions, Akadémiai Kiadó, 1 Mar. 2019.
  5. Intervention: Help a Loved One Overcome Addiction.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 20 July 2017.
  6. Men's Group - the Leader in Online Men's Groups & Men's Community.” MensGroup.com, 19 July 2022. 
  7. Porn Addiction Support Group.” Flyleaf Counseling, 4 Apr. 2021.
  8. Weir, Kirsten. “Is Pornography Addictive?Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association, Apr. 2014.

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