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James Worthington • Mental Health • No Comments

How to Beat Porn Addiction for Good

How to Beat Porn Addiction for Good

While watching the occasional pornographic movie is something everyone does, in rare occurrences it can become a destructive addiction.

Most of it starts as curiosity or youthful voyeurism when your parents leave the house. However, while the vast majority of us outgrow porn to some degree and find more useful outlets for our energies, fantasies or more useful things to do with our day or even idle time, there is a small minority that has a compulsive addiction to pornography.

If you are a compulsive porn-binge watcher, then it is time to get help ASAP. You are not doing something normal and the effects could be damaging both for your mental health and personal relationships. Relationship-wise, there is a social awkwardness associated with too much porn. You can start to objectify women and men based on the images that you see on your screen, which can be detrimental to building healthy organic personal relationships with people in general, not just those of the opposite sex.

Porn addiction creates a fantasy world that is simply impossible to fulfill in the real world. And if you end up watching porn and also juggling this with a serious emotional and physical relationship with your partner, you will have a hard time squaring the fantasy sex world of porn films and the reality of your personal relationships and sex life. Both you and your partner are left feeling physically and emotionally unfulfilled and the relationship might eventually break down. A lot of people who watch a lot of porn also develop unusual sexual appetites for which they are unlikely to get fulfilment in a normal relationship, particularly with a person who isn’t a porn addict.

Porn as a Compulsion

The degree to which pornography can impact your life depends on what kind of porn consumer you are. There are people who are “recreational” users and watch porn as a form of escapism or occasional sexual relief. Then there is compulsive user who is hooked to pornography and has no control over their compulsion.

At face value, it may not actually seem like a problem – after all, it is very different from a drug or food addiction. It’s not hurting anybody and it will hardly cause sickness or death. However you hardly hear or see people openly talking about their addiction, and it is this silence which makes it potentially dangerous. It legitimately has the ability to tear families apart and in extreme cases, can cause people to become hermits and be unable to function properly in normal social environments. If you find yourself prioritizing porn at the expense of everything including work and building of relationships with friends, partners and colleagues, then you are hitting a dangerous threshold and needs to get help.

Recognizing the Addiction

You may not think that you are actually addicted – after all you just simply like watching it. However you may be shocked to learn that there is actually a physiological side to the addiction. That feeling of pleasure that is felt is caused by dopamine levels spiking in the brain. And this is what you are actually addicted to. It is just like when you smoke and your body gets a relief from the nicotine – when you watch porn, your brain gets relief and with time this gets addictive. And as soon as if ends, your brain starts craving it again and it becomes habitual. Those addicted to porn actually get withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop. They no longer just want it – the need it. So recognition of a porn addiction is the first step to overcoming it. Many people rarely if ever view porn, and they function quite happily in society – and you can too.

Separate the feelings associated with porn

This step is extremely important and will really depend on the type of person you are. While everyone who enjoys porn watches it for more or less the same reason, there might be different triggers as to what that particular person finds so appealing about it. In other words, you need to work out what exactly triggers the addictive dopamine effect – which is the whole reason for watching porn in the first place. Once you separate the feelings, try thinking of non-porn related activities that could achieve a similar feeling.

Joining a team sport and doing something like rock climbing or even skydiving can create a sense of excitement that can replace the ‘excitement’ from porn (a different type of excitement of course). Work out if something triggers your desire for porn and think of alternatives. If you tend to watch it when you are bored/angry/lonely/sad/hungry etc, then recognizing this can mean that you can come up with an alternative outlet when these feelings set in. When these triggers set in, force yourself to go jogging, driving around town, shopping and any other alternative activity.

Change your schedule

We are creatures of habit. If you like watching porn with some regularity at certain hours, your brain will “calibrate” these hours as “porn time”. For example, if you like watching porn at 10pm before taking a shower, you will get the strongest urge for some “action” around 10pm. But you can calibrate your brain by introducing alternative activities that will slowly get rid of the “porn hour” feeling. But this requires some forceful will on your part.

Don’t go cold turkey

Some people try to “go nuclear” when it comes to beating their porn addiction. They would delete all their porn files and perhaps install a tool on their browser that blocks all the porn sites. But this often backfires badly. A perfect example is a porn addict who went nuclear on his porn habit deleting all his porn files and blocking porn sites on his desktop computer only to find himself opening the same websites again on his smartphone!

Just like in overcoming any addiction, trying to rid yourself of your porn habit suddenly will guarantee failure. Make it a gradual process.  There is a reason why going cold turkey when quitting smoking or any type of drug rarely works – because the feelings of loss are so overwhelming that you will do anything to feel ‘normal’ again – and in this case, it would be watching porn, even more profusely. Then you would feel like a failure and be right back where you started. So rather than throwing out all your magazines and deleting every file you have, take it slowly. Instead of watching 5 hours of porn a day, watch 4. Then once you are comfortable with this, take it down to 3 hours a day. Then eventually make it so that you are never watching it. It sounds simple, but it really is the only way to achieve long term success and beat the addiction for good.

Just make sure that you do not simply change from one type of porn to another. You may think that something like amateur porn is ‘less bad’ than the Hollywood style stuff, but at the end of the day, porn is porn. That would be like quitting heroin and taking up pain pills. It may work in that you do not shoot up, but you are still addicted to a drug. Watching less porn is the only way to end up watching a healthy amount of porn, and this is the ultimate goal.

Focus on the positives

At the end of the day, you need to have a reason for beating your porn addiction. You might want to make some friends or have a meaningful relationship. Or further your career. These things are all significantly easier and more achievable when you are not wasting two thirds of your day in front of a computer. By focusing on the positives that come about from stopping watching porn means that you are more likely to continue, and really destroy that demon for good!

Put things into perspective

Perspective always serves as a mental course-correct mechanism. Sit back and reflect on the damage your porn habit has done to yourself and the people you love. How many hours are you spending on the computer every day watching porn? How much are you losing in terms of your productivity when you watch porn? If you have a sense of guilt at the back of your mind constantly nagging you to stay off the bad habit, then you will begin small almost subconscious steps towards beating your porn habit.

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James Worthington

James is an avid health freak. He spends his days in sunny SoCal - mostly surfing and lifting heavy things repeatedly. Big on all things natural, he finds himself most at peace walking his dog on the beach and meditating.

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