The seven red flags that prove you are addicted to pornography – and how to get over it,


Could you be one of the one-in-20 Brits caught in the grips of a porn addiction?

While thousands of British men and women watch and enjoy pornography without issue experts say they are seeing a rise in people experiencing problems with porn usage that are having serious ramifications. 

With the advent of smartphones, a massive library of online X-rated content is just a few taps of a screen away 24-hours a day. 

Dr Paula Hall, of not-for-profit online therapy programme Pivotal Recovery, said in the same way cannabis can act as a gateway for harder drugs, a porn obsession might be the stepping stone to other dysfunctional behaviours.

These, she explained, can cost addicts not only thousands of pounds but their relationships as well. 

Could you be one of the one-in-20 Brits caught in the grips of a porn addiction?

Could you be one of the one-in-20 Brits caught in the grips of a porn addiction?

‘Many people start with online porn but then progress to chat, webcam, adult hook up sites and offline real-life encounters,’ she told MailOnline.

Nathan Jones, clinical director of the London Centre for Addictions, said addictions to explicit content can ‘rewrite’ the user’s brain and skew what they find arousing with potentially devastating results. 

‘Internet porn conditions the sexual arousal template to violent, degrading content, and genres of porn that go against the user’s innate erotic tastes and orientation,’ he said.

And unlike other, more commonly known addictions, there is no stopping point.

‘The alcoholic will eventually black out, the drug addict will overdose, the gambling addict will lose all their money and be forced to stop,’ Mr Jones said.

‘But the porn addict can literally continue 24 hours a day, seven days a week.’

In some of the most extreme cases, experts have treated patients who watch X-rated content for up to 14 hours a day.

While estimates put problematic porn usage in Britain at one in 20. The actual truth of how many are suffering from the addiction is unknow. 

Many suffers understandably avoid seeking professional help out of shame and embarrassment for their affliction or fear of exposure. 

Here MailOnline explains the seven key signs that you or someone you love is potentially in the grip of a porn addiction and what to do about it. 

Reduced interest in sexual activity with a real-life partner

Porn, used to fulfil sexual desire, can ironically act as dampener to the real thing in cases of addiction.

Dr Hall said a lower libido was a classic sign shared among many porn addicts she has treated.

Mr Jones added chronic porn use can impede men’s ability to get an erection by rewiring their brain to change what sexually arouses them.

‘The brain is trained to be aroused under specific circumstances: being alone, multiple tabs open, various genres of porn – being a voyeur and constant novelty,’ he said.

‘The person can then only gain an erection watching pornography and not be aroused with a real-life partner.’

Mr Jones even recalled how far this warping can go, with one of his clients stating: ‘real women are essentially bad porn – why would I bother with a real person?’. 

Spending more time alone with devices and becoming protective over them

The advent of smartphones and tablets means an endless catalogue of explicit images and videos can be yours in seconds.

As such, Dr Hall said if people start behaving differently around their phone or tablets, it could be another sign that they’re addicted.

Two leading psychotherapists have witnessed porn addiction end marriages with some sufferers watching X-rated content for up to 14 hours a day

Two leading psychotherapists have witnessed porn addiction end marriages with some sufferers watching X-rated content for up to 14 hours a day

‘Tell-tale signs are spending more time alone with devices, taking their phone into the bathroom or using the laptop in the study, rather than on the sofa with you,’ she said.

Other behaviours to watch out for include people ‘becoming unusually twitchy if you pick up their device’ and changing devices’ passwords to something you don’t know.

Avoiding events and work to feed the addiction

Is your partner constantly flaking social events or blaming insane work deadlines for being unable to meet you?

It might be another sign they’re a porn addict, said Dr Hall.

People gripped by their love of extreme content often make excuses to avoid social gatherings with their partner to instead spend time feeding their obsession.

She added one of the most common excuses for such behaviour in porn addicts is work commitments.

‘People often hide behind stress at work for spending more time online and not being interested in sex,’ she said.

Using porn to ‘anaesthetise’ stress, anxiety and loneliness

Undoubtedly millions of Brits enjoy porn regularly and suffer no issues as a result.

But a potential sign you are, or at risk of becoming, an addict is what motivates you to look at explicit content.

Up to one in 20 Britons show some signs of addiction, according to research, and experts agree that rates are on the rise thanks to smartphones making porn available anytime, anywhere

Up to one in 20 Britons show some signs of addiction, according to research, and experts agree that rates are on the rise thanks to smartphones making porn available anytime, anywhere

Mr Jones said a key sign of a problematic relationship with X-rated content was if you are using it as an ‘escape’ from other problems. 

‘The behaviour is used to anaesthetise negative feeling states, such as stress, loneliness, and anxiety,’ he said.

Dr Hall also flagged stress as one of the many reasons men can become addicted.

She said: ‘During times of stress we’re all more susceptible to turning to things like alcohol and porn for an escape.

‘And if those times of stress are extended, then you’re more likely to become dependent.

‘For many people who’ve developed an addiction, it starts off as a way of relaxing and seeking pleasure, but over time as dependency grows, the habit becomes more ingrained. It can become the only way to feel normal.’

Spending more time than you intended watching porn

A 14-hour porn marathon might be the extraordinary end of the scale. 

But spending longer than expected, or than you want, looking at adult content is another tell-tale addiction sign.

Mr Jones said one example he had come across was a university student who only sought help after an all-night porn binge.

The student said: ‘I finished university for the day and returned to my room – I watched pornography from Friday evening until Monday morning and had over 30 tabs open with all genres of porn… and do you know the insane thing is… I didn’t even orgasm.’

Dr Hall added that if a man starts behaving differently around his phone or tablet, it could be another sign that he¿s addicted to explicit content

Dr Hall added that if a man starts behaving differently around his phone or tablet, it could be another sign that he’s addicted to explicit content

Porn dependence is affecting relationships and jobs

One of the most important warning signs of any addiction, including porn, is it starts to impact other aspects of your life, such as relationships or work, and being unable to stop even if when you realise this. 

Mr Jones said: ‘The warning signs are when you begin putting pornography ahead of seeing friends and family and stop engaging in your hobbies or interests.

He added that the rise of working-from-home was feeding into problematic porn usage.  

‘Since the pandemic, with more people now working from home, this has created more opportunity to access pornography,’ he said. 

‘Many clients report frequently watching porn at work, which impacts their productivity and on occasions loss of employment.’

Porn addicts can also see a hit to their finances if they start subscribing to content produced on platforms such as OnlyFans.

Dr Hall added: ‘While amount of time spent watching porn may be an indicator that you have a problem, the biggest measure is whether it’s having a negative impact on your life, but in spite of that, you can’t stop.

‘Regrettably there’s lots of evidence that, over time, compulsive pornography use begins to have a negative impact on other areas of life including relationships, work, friendships, finance and general mental health and wellbeing.’

Needing to look at more ‘novel’ or extreme porn to get a ‘fix’

Perhaps the most concerning and long-reaching sign of a porn addiction is a dangerous escalation in the type of content.

In some cases, Mr Jones said he has treated some patients who are viewing incredibly disturbing, and sometimes even illegal, content online.

‘You begin watching material that goes against your values, such as incest or violent hardcore pornography,’ he said.

‘Once orgasm is reached, if there is a feeling of shame or guilt this is a sure-fire sign of a problematic relationship with pornography.’

He added that an alarming trend in recent years has been the number of porn addicts seeking help after being arrested by police for viewing child pornography.

‘An increasingly common presentation in clinical work is people seeking treatment after being arrested for accessing child porn,’ he said.

‘File sharing on certain websites is now a common occurrence, and often illegal material is unknowingly passed between individuals, however, it is still treated with the full force of the law. Blind ignorance is no defence.’

Dr Hall added porn addiction can also feed into other, sometimes problematic, sexual behaviour. 

‘Many people start with online porn but then progress to chat, webcam, adult hook up sites and offline real-life encounters,’ she said. 

Men, or women, wanting to beat a porn addiction need to take the first step and admit they have a problem, after this Dr Hall recommends addicts try to cure themselves

Men, or women, wanting to beat a porn addiction need to take the first step and admit they have a problem, after this Dr Hall recommends addicts try to cure themselves

‘Of course, for some that’s not an issue, but for others it’s breaking a really important boundary and that’s when they realise they’ve become addicted – because it’s escalated to these other kinds of unwanted behaviours.’

So, how CAN you beat a porn addiction?

People wanting to beat a porn addiction need to take the first step any addict does, admitting they have a problem.

Once this happens, Dr Hall recommends trying to take steps to cure yourself first.

‘Set yourself a goal of how long you want to remain porn-free, that could be a week or a month, and fill your diary with other things to do,’ she said.

‘Make a note of times when you find it especially difficult, this will help you to identify triggers and times when you’re at higher risk.

‘Then you can use this information to strengthen your resolve next time.’

If these steps fail, Dr Hall said people should start to seek professional help.

How long a porn addiction takes to treat depends on the grip it has on a person’s life.

Dr Hall said: ‘At the milder end it might be just a few weeks of discovering your triggers and finding better, healthier ways of managing those triggering situations.

‘For example, if you identify boredom or loneliness are big triggers for you, you can focus your energy on developing more hobbies and social activities to fill your time.

‘If you’ve struggled with the problem for many years and you class yourself at more of the serious end, then you may need help to look at underlying issues that might be contributing to the problem such as deep-rooted anxiety or low self-esteem.’



Read More

Leave a comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More