Man watching porn on TV

Pornography addiction: How to identify the signs and get help

In the UK, pornography is prevalent, and viewership has further grown in popularity over the last two years since the pandemic.

According to a report by Ofcom, 26 million people – half of the adult population viewed adult material in September 2020.

Likewise, our casual sex survey found that 15% of people admitted to watching porn five times more since the pandemic.

With a large portion of the internet dedicated to porn sites, adult content is more accessible than ever, enticing more viewership. 

Porn can contribute to a healthy sex life, helping to boost desire and increase arousal. It can also give you and your partner ideas to experiment with.

However, if your consumption of porn starts to become addictive, it can disrupt various aspects of your life. 

Porn addiction may cause you to develop unrealistic ideas about sex, and can negatively impact your relationship with others, work and well-being. 

Unfortunately, societal pressures can also make it extremely challenging for those with the disorder to seek help.

If you’re asking yourself, ‘Am I addicted to porn?’, read on to understand what it means to be a porn addict and how to get help.


Person looking at Pornhub on phone

What is porn addiction?

Porn addiction refers to a condition in which a person develops an unhealthy relationship with explicit sexual material, such as graphic photos and videos. 

It involves them becoming uncontrollably dependent on pornography in a way that can interfere with their daily lives and relationships.

Some doctors and medical circles consider porn addiction to be a type of hypersexual disorder, which is an obsessive fixation on sex and sexual acts, such as excessive masturbation.

Having a pornography addiction means that being without it can cause withdrawal symptoms, similar to drugs, causing great emotional discomfort.

Why is porn addictive?

Whether or not porn addiction is an ‘actual’ addiction is highly debated among psychiatric and medical professionals.  

According to Nicole Prause, CEO of brain research company Liberos, porn use should not be grouped with drug and alcohol addiction. She told BBC Trending radio that:

In the case of porn addictions, the brain looks similar to other addictions but only up to a point and then it diverges. When you look at porn, you get increases in learning and reward… but you don’t see some of the other hallmarks.


While many experts argue that the brains of porn watchers do not function in the same way as drug users, for example, there are studies that contradict these opposing views.

Other studies examining the neuroscience of internet porn discovered that porn activates the same fundamental brain networks as alcohol and drugs, meaning that overwhelming porn consumption is potentially as powerful as intoxicants.

What are the signs of porn addiction?

Some regular porn watchers are unsure whether they are actually addicted to porn or not.

It’s important to understand that watching porn habitually is not necessarily an addiction and does not require fixing. 

Porn consumption only becomes a problem when it starts to prohibit your ability to function. 

Your pornography consumption may be a cause for concern if:

  • You have lost interest in sex or are unable to enjoy sex without watching porn beforehand
  • You spend a considerable amount of time viewing porn, causing you to neglect responsibilities and accomplish nothing else in the day
  • You have lost interest in other things, such as hobbies, and are only interested in porn
  • You become demanding in the bedroom, insist that your partner watches porn and enacts porn fantasies, or develops unrealistic ideas about sex
  • You struggle to resist porn despite it disrupting your life or facing serious consequences, such as loss of relationship or job
  • You fall into financial hardship due to overspending on pornographic content
  • You feel guilty about the consequences of watching porn obsessively 
  • You crave porn when going without it for a period of time and sneak off to watch it in social situations
  • You’re no longer attracted to your partner due to unrealistic expectations of beauty, particularly displayed in pornographic material
  • You experience physical pain from excessive computer use from watching porn, such as wrist, neck and back pain
  • You become distant from friends, family or coworkers, and your relationships and professional life is being affected by being heavily distracted by porn
  • You become angry or irritable when you’re unable to access porn

Couple on bed watching porn on laptop


If you’re experiencing the majority of the above effects of porn addiction, then it’s likely that you’re an addict.

Porn addiction can also be associated with other issues and excessive behaviours, such as masturbation addiction and even nymphomania, which is an uncontrollable sexual desire in women. 

Therefore, those who are addicted to porn may be dealing with other issues simultaneously, meaning that porn addiction could be a symptom of a different issue rather than the problem itself.

How to stop porn addiction

Porn addiction can be cured. 

The first step in breaking your addiction is to accept that you have a problem.

Acceptance can be extremely challenging for many, as those who suffer from this addiction can feel ashamed and fear judgement. 

There are various actions you can take to help stop your porn addiction. You might want to consider the below:

  • Dispose of all your hard-copy porn
  • Delete digital porn and bookmarks from all of your electronic devices 
  • Find a distraction or various activities you enjoy for when the urge for porn arises 
  • When you feel like watching porn, remind yourself of all the negative ways it has impacted your life. You can write it down in a diary and refer to it if you need to
  • Discover what triggers you to want to view porn and try to avoid them
  • Have a friend or family member you confide in install anti-porn software on your electronic devices without giving you the password
  • Get someone to ask about your porn habits on a regular basis to hold you accountable. If you know anyone else looking to overcome porn addiction, partnering up with them and setting goals could help
  • Keep a journal of your setbacks and successes and make a record of actions you’ve taken that have worked

If you find the above tactics do not work or believe they will not work for you, we recommend seeking professional help to break your porn addiction.


Man sitting down holding mobile phone

Professional help for porn addiction 

If you suspect you are addicted to porn and want expert help, don’t be ashamed or afraid to seek a psychologist. 

They can help you identify the reasons behind the addiction and provide treatment.

  • Seek therapy – If you believe you have a porn addiction, get yourself assessed by a mental health professional, especially if you suffer from anxiety, depression or obsessive-compulsive-disorder (OCD). Counselling sessions can help you discover the cause of the addiction and help you find coping mechanisms
  • Join support groups – Many people find it useful to discuss their porn addiction with others who are experiencing the same issue. You can learn from others and find out what they are doing to break their addiction
  • Medication – Prescribed medication can help some cases of porn addiction. Doctors are able to provide medication for coexisting psychiatric conditions, such as depression, which can ultimately help porn addiction

From recovery courses to therapy groups, below are some useful sites you can visit for information and advice on sex and porn addiction:

Withdrawal symptoms from porn addiction

Trying to quit porn addiction isn’t easy.

You may experience withdrawal symptoms that can tempt you to slip back into old patterns. 

This is because the brain is fighting the sudden change in typical routines, and is forced to think about self-control against addiction.

In the early stages of recovery and healing, you may experience:

  • Sadness, depression or feelings of despair 
  • Increased agitation or aggressions
  • The desire to find a new addiction
  • Loss of libido or no sexual desire
  • Intense mood swings
  • Social isolation
  • Nausea or flu-like symptoms
  • Poor concentration or brain fog
  • Insomnia or difficulties sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Stiffness or pain in your joints
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness

These withdrawal symptoms will vary from person to person and day-to-day, as everyone will respond differently.

You can help manage your withdrawal symptoms through meditation to help you stay focused and in the present moment, exercise for natural dopamine and other good-feeling chemical production, or join a support group so you don’t feel alone.


Man masturbating on bed while watching porn on laptop

Porn addiction books

Another way to help your porn addiction is by purchasing relevant self-help books, especially if you enjoy reading.

These books can further educate you on porn addiction and provide advice and guidance on how to overcome it.

 Here are some recommended books on helping porn addiction:

Get help for your porn addiction today

Watching porn is normal and there is no limit to how much porn you can watch. 

Porn addiction is only a problem when it’s negatively affecting your life and you are unable to resist porn when you want to. 

If you believe you have porn addiction problems, learn from our tips or seek professional support.

It’s also possible to develop a healthier relationship with pornography and enjoy the benefits on your sex life, without it negatively impacting your life.

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