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Am I Addicted to Porn? 6 Symptoms of Porn Addiction

Last Updated: September 9, 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.

“Am I addicted to porn? I like porn, but feel like I can stop anytime, so am I addicted? What are the signs and symptoms of porn addiction?

Many people who struggle with pornography use wonder if they might be addicted to it. Most porn addicts experience a predictable set of signs and symptoms. Here are six common symptoms of porn addiction. Do any of these describe how you feel?

6 Symptoms of Porn Addiction

The following symptoms of porn addiction are best identified by the person using porn. So for those who wonder, “Am I addicted to porn?” try your best to be honest as you read through the symptoms of pornography addiction below.

Feeling High: “I feel great when I use pornography”

Many people consider pornography use as little more than “harmless adult entertainment.” However, pornography is often used to ease or avoid deep emotional pain. Often people have carried this pain for so long they don’t realize it exists anymore. However, deep down, they have come to use pornography as a way to escape their pain. Because the effects are temporary, they need to go back to it over and over again to keep their pain at bay. This is where an addiction can develop.

Related: Brain Chemicals and Porn Addiction

Due to this “high,” porn addicts often find that they can spend significant chunks of time watching pornography. It’s as if hours go by in a matter of minutes. Although a porn addict might fall asleep in church on Sunday morning, he or she has no trouble staying up until 4 a.m. watching pornography. The neurochemical cocktail emitted during porn consumption seems to accelerate time and also highten the senses. It’s a rush like no other. And, one that can be fueled with click after click of novelty and fetish.

Feeling Tolerant: “A little bit of kink or violent stuff is fine”

As with many addictive substances, after a while a tolerance develops. A little isn’t enough. A stronger form of the substance is needed to achieve the desired effect.

At this point, “soft porn” may be no longer satisfying. The viewer will seek out more hardcore and deviant forms of pornography. This can include fetish, violent, homosexual, and even child porn.

Related: Porn–A Gateway Drug

The amount of time viewing pornography will also increase. Instead of just a few minutes, the viewer may spend several hours viewing pornography.

For some, a tolerance develops to the point where viewing it is no longer satisfying. They want to experience what they’ve viewed in pornography live. This can lead them to frequent strip clubs, prostitutes, anonymous sexual encounters, and extramarital affairs.

Feeling Angry: “I get upset if I can’t watch porn”

Many compulsive porn users report becoming angry, hostile, or irritable when asked to stop using porn. Porn addicts may deny their porn viewing or be upset when loved ones request that they stop.

Here is where the viewer becomes physically and emotionally dependent on viewing porn. Physically the brain has become so accustomed to operating at such a high level of neurochemical stimulation, triggered by the pornography use, that it must maintain those levels just to function.

As stated above, the viewer has also become emotionally dependent on pornography to keep painful feelings at bay. This draws the viewer back to pornography over and over again. Without a regular “fix,” a person can experience withdrawal symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, headaches, etc.

Feeling Risky: “I’ll do anything to watch porn”

For many addicts, the need for a regular “fix” leads them to take great risks to view pornography. This can include risking the loss of a job by viewing pornography on a work computer. For others, it could be risking their marriages by viewing pornography at home. In addition, some will spend thousands of dollars and amass great debt because of their addiction to porn.

A related statement might be, “I pass up fun opportunities with people I love to have more time to use or view porn.” This includes ignoring family and friends. Porn does not share. It monopolizes your attention. Compulsive porn users often neglect social obligations, even family events, just to get one more fix.

Feeling Like a Slave: “The urge to watch porn consumes me”

There are many ways that people who are addicted can use pornography. For some, there is a need to view it daily. They may even view it several times a day. Others are frequent users who may view it once or twice a week.

Still others may go weeks or months without it and then spend several hours viewing it. These are known as binge users. Altogether, there is continued use of pornography, and usually in a predictable frequency.

Feeling Helpless: “My life is out of control”

Many people who are addicted will try to stop, but have little success. They may be able to go a few weeks or even month without viewing it; however, they eventually fall back into it. Their sobriety is little more than white-knuckling it. Often they feel their lives are out of control because of the pornography. It has control over them.

Related: Why Can’t I Stop Watching Porn: 3 Reasons It’s So Hard to Quit

Am I Addicted to Porn?

If you struggle with any of these symptoms, you may be addicted to pornography.

However, don’t be discouraged. Breaking free from porn addition won’t be easy. But, it is absolutely possible.

Effective recovery programs are available to help you experience victory over pornography addiction. A good recovery program is a multi-faceted approach, including a healthy relationship with God, professional counseling, and a strong community of men or women who will support you and keep you accountable. The next step is to seek the help you deserve!

Related resources: 

  • Comments on: Am I Addicted to Porn? 6 Symptoms of Porn Addiction
    1. Wayne on

      I have a good 😊 hope that I can get over this because I’m reading the Bible and the Covenant and finished 40 days lesson.

      Reply
      • Steve on

        That’s good. But I think a lot of it depends on how much porn and sexual sin you have been into. I am 48 and remember looking at porn magazines when I was like 11 or 12 or something. This was also coupled with being friends with the foster kids of (what we would find out later) the town child molester. So I was also sexually molested at that time too. I guess we could say that I was hyper-sexualized at a young age. I didn’t have any real romantic relationships in high school, and certainly no healthy ones. So porn was it for me. This only morphed later in life into paying for sexual experiences of almost all kinds. I don’t want to get into it here because I don’t want to make anyone struggle, but I did quite a lot of different things. Anyway, I still struggle with porn here and there mostly because I feel lonely and bored–big flags of addiction.
        Good luck with your 40 day program. Mine helped me a lot to look back and examine my life.

    2. Degraft Brian on

      sometimes trying to get rid of porno but it doesn’t work and I feel so frustrate and shameful .I have tryed it several times and am a ever ready to do anything possible to stop if there is anyway to do so

      Reply
    3. Joe on

      I’m a full blown porn addict,I watch porn every day every chance I get. the temptation is like a tidal wave that I cannot stop. I have tried to quit mulptiple times but I cannot go more than a few days without relapsing. it’s like knowing that I am chronically addicted makes me more aroused and makes me want to watch even more porn! I just can’t stop.

      Reply
    4. Josh on

      I know I’m addicted to porn, but I don’t have resources to buy a covenant eyes suscription.

      Reply
      • Chris McKenna on

        Hi, Josh – please call customer service at 877-479-1119, as we enjoy helping people who might have financial limitations.

        Regards, Chris

    5. Bob H. on

      Is this a religious website? Because the notion that requiring “a healthy relationship with God” to help you kick porn addiction is utterly ridiculous. Everyone says you can believe what you want to believe, but not when it comes to these 12-step programs. Do you understand how many people are being pushed away by that one line? The ability to quit porn addiction is within everyone. You don’t need to credit a fake deity with work that you’ve done. We are beyond.

      Reply
      • Patrick on

        To Chris McKenna,
        I am taken aback by your curt response to Bob H. He came here for a reason…there are no “coincidences”, right?

        To Bob H., welcome, I’m glad you asked that question. Come as you are and continue asking questions but keep an open mind about all of this. If you are questioning whether or not you may be a porn addict, then may I suggest staying away from it for say, 40 days. Go ahead and put the Covenant Eyes filter on your devices and do your level best to document your behavior via pencil and paper…including the number of times you uninstall the CE filter so you can watch porn. Then with all that data in hand, sit down and take an honest self-appraisal of yourself, your emotions, your anxiety level, and your relationship with porn.

        Finally, whether you like it or not I will be praying for you. Why? Because it helps me too…gets me out of myself and gets my mind off my “stuff”. Also, Christ calls us to “…bear one another’s burdens”. You are not alone anymore my friend. Don’t forget that!
        Patrick

      • Chris McKenna on

        Hi, Patrick – you’re correct (and to Bob). My apologies. I completely misread the comment and should not have responded the way that I did. I ask for your forgiveness.

        Chris

    6. John on

      I recently became free of pornography. Through reading of the Book of Mormon daily along with an article every day about porn addiction. I could only accomplish this with God’s help and strength. I want to let all people know there is hope and success through God and his atonement.

      Reply
    7. Colton on

      Hey.. My name is Colton and I am addicted to viewing pornograpy of myself online. I’ve posed things in the past that got very popular online and now it’s like a rush when I look back at those things and see where they have spread to and what people have commented. The Lord saved me a few months ago and now this is my 24/7 battle. It challenges my faith and destroys my mental state believing I’m in control but can’t get free. I feel like I have only one hand on the wheel and my mind has the other hand. Please, someone help me..

      Reply
      • Chris McKenna on

        Hi, Colton – I’m so sorry that you’re struggling. Many who find freedom do so through a lot of hard work. Make no mistake, porn will fight you back. But, this blog post might help.

        Chris

    8. suranjith on

      I’m also watch porn and i am also have panic attacks in front of girls ,so i normally limit interact with girls .i don’t know why i fear girls so much either due to watch porn or hormone imbalance or genophobia or any other disease.i tried to have fun with a prostitite ,but i couldn’t perform .i have sudden mood changes too.anyway, i will try this.

      Reply

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