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5 Warning Signs You’re Addicted to Porn

Last Updated: July 27, 2021

Peter Kleponis

Dr. Peter Kleponis is a Licensed Clinical Therapist and Assistant Director of Comprehensive Counseling Services in Conshohocken, PA.  He holds an M.A. in Clinical-Counseling Psychology from LaSalle University in Philadelphia, PA, and a Ph.D. in General Psychology from Capella University in Minneapolis, MN. Dr. Kleponis specializes in marriage & family therapy, pastoral counseling, resolving anger, men’s issues, and pornography addiction recovery. He is the author of Integrity Restored: Helping Catholic Families Win the Battle Against Pornography.

Many men who contact me for help in overcoming pornography use question whether or not they really have an addiction to porn. Some simply don’t want to believe they could actually be addicted to the stuff. Others inquire because they know they have a problem and want to assess the seriousness of it. When assessing a man for an addiction, I look for the following warning sign.

Are you preoccupied with porn and sex?

An addicts use of pornography affects the way they view others and the world. A man addicted to porn will come to view women as sex objects and judge them based on their sexual attractiveness. Sex is reduced to nothing more than a recreational activity, and dating becomes a means for having sex. A man will find himself thinking about sex and pornography often. His language includes many sexual references, and his humor will be very sexual.

Do you use porn to escape negative feelings?

A form of “self-medicatation,” people addicted to pornography often turn to porn as a coping strategy to deal with deep emotional pain. Often they don’t even realize the pain exists. They only know that porn makes them feel really good, and they must go back to it over and over again. When they can’t feel good without pornography, it indicates the existence of deep emotional wounds they try to  anesthetize with porn. These wounds can include sadness, depression, anxiety, family-of-origin wounds, abuse, trauma, loneliness, stress, and burnout.

Have you developed a tolerance for porn?

Viewing pornography triggers several neurochemical reactions in the brain. This produces a pleasurable feeling that is intensified with an orgasm. Like any other addiction, a tolerance soon develops. More is needed to get the same effect. Thus, the type of pornography a man views will become more extreme. Instead of viewing soft porn, such as the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue or the Victoria’s Secret Catalog, the man now needs to view more intense, hardcore pornography that is often violent and can even be illegal.

In addition, the amount of time viewing porn increases. Instead of spending a few minutes once a week viewing pornography, he may now be viewing it for several hours every day. Ultimately the pursuit and use of pornography consumes the man’s life.

Are you dependent on porn?

We now know that pornography is both emotionally and physically addictive. As stated above, many people use pornography to ease the pain of deep emotional wounds. Because the effects are temporary, they need to go back to pornography over and over again. This can lead to becoming emotionally dependent on pornography to keep their pain at bay.

The brain also becomes physically accustomed to and dependent on the intense level of neurochemical stimulation triggered by pornography use. Functioning in daily life requires a regular dose of pornography. Without a “fix,” the addict can experience withdrawal symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, and irritability. Even without withdrawal symptoms, it demonstrates dependence if a man cannot stop viewing pornography despite his best efforts.

Do you take great risks to view porn?

Porn addicts will often risk losing a significant relationship, job, educational opportunity, or career opportunity because of their pornography use. I often work with men who lost their jobs because of their porn use. Their need for porn led them to take the risk of viewing it at work. I have also worked with college students who have failed out of school. Instead of attending their classes and studying, they spend their time viewing porn. Married men will take the risk of viewing pornography at home, which is often how their wives discover their addiction. Many have risked possible divorce because of their porn use. In each of these situations, the need to view pornography seems to outweigh any of the risks.

Finding freedom is possible!

While pornography may seem fun and exciting, it can’t provide lasting happiness. It will never truly satisfy. Men who view pornography are unable to have healthy relationships with women. Rather than teaching men about healthy intimacy or sexuality, porn teaches men that women exist solely for their sexual pleasure. By avoiding pornography, men can learn to have healthy and fulfilling relationships with women and gain their respect. It’s a win-win situation!

If any of these five signs of pornography addiction apply to you, I encourage you to seek the help of a counselor who is trained to deal with pornography addiction. This addiction can take over and wreak havoc in a person’s life.  Fortunately help is available. You can find freedom from pornography addiction and lead a happy, healthy life!

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  • Comments on: 5 Warning Signs You’re Addicted to Porn
    1. Jared Jenkins on

      I’ve heard that there are online support groups. Is that true? And if so, which one would you recommend?

      Thanks!

      Jared

      Reply
      • Chris McKenna on

        Hi, Jared – if I were to recommend just one, it would be Pure Life Ministries: http://www.purelifeministries.org/#home

        I’ve seen their results first-hand, and I’m sold.
        Peace, Chris

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