Pornography has been around for a long time. Free, easily accessible, and extreme pornography as a multi-billion dollar industry is a far more recent development. People of all ages can begin to feel dependent on this content as a source of elevated dopamine levels. Hardcore pornographic videos have an insidious and dangerous impact on viewers — especially younger viewers.

While this is not technically an “addiction,” it sure behaves like one. Call it an addiction or a compulsion but please call it a serious problem. A good place to start addressing this issue is by better understanding where porn addiction comes from.

What Causes Porn Addiction?

A big part of it is the accessibility as mentioned above. You take out your phone and porn is just a few clicks away. You could say the same for any website but there’s a big difference. Pornography offers arousal and orgasm as a reward. This is why, as I mentioned in a previous post, the top three pornography websites get a combined 135,000 visits per second. That adds up to 6 billion monthly visits.

Where Does Porn Addiction Come From?

Brain Chemicals

Watching porn raises your body’s levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine — three powerful brain chemicals. This will alter your ability to regulate your mood and how you process pleasure. Over time, you may begin engaging in compulsive sexual behavior. You’ll need more porn and more extreme forms of porn to get the “high” you seek.

Co-occurring Mental Health Issues and/or Addictions

People with addictions and other mental health disorders often seek to escape. Porn provides a seemingly ideal outlet. The following conditions are some of those that have been found to frequently co-exist with porn addictions:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Mood disorders like bipolar disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Substance Abuse

Viewing porn on a regular, relentless basis allows a person to experience what feels like pleasure. This makes it possible to temporarily forget about other problems.

photo of a person laying in bed staring at their phoneRelationship and Sexual Problems

Anyone feeling dissatisfied or unhappy with their sex life or their relationship in general is susceptible to the realm of pornography. Viewing porn serves as a replacement of sorts for what you may feel you are missing. Unfortunately, this choice can only deepen the rifts you’re trying to avoid facing.

A History of Trauma and Abuse

Especially if these events occur during childhood, they can trigger a wide range of counterproductive coping mechanisms. For a little while, viewing porn numbs the pain while easing feelings of guilt and shame. In order to keep receiving such rewards, a person is left needing more and more pornography.

The Need for Stress Relief

Visual depictions of sex, feeling aroused, and achieving climax via masturbation all contribute to boosts of dopamine. For the time being, this reduces stress. Eventually, it all results in a non-stop, futile quest to fend off stress.

Common Signs of Porn Addiction

  • Wanting to stop by being unable to do so
  • Watching porn in places or situations that are risky
  • Neglecting basic responsibilities, needs, and personal care in order to view porn
  • Using porn as a form of “stress relief”
  • Losing the ability to feel satisfaction or arousal during sex with a real person
  • No longer feeling attracted to your partner
  • Relationship problems
  • Social isolation and withdrawal
  • Losing interest in other activities

If anything on the list above — or elsewhere in this post — resonates with you, it makes sense to ask for help. Porn addiction can be addressed and managed with help from an experienced professional. Don’t suffer in silence. Let’s connect for sex therapy.