Pornography Addiction: Is There Hope? – 4 Ways To Help Yourself Heal From Problematic Pornography Use

2023 is in full swing and you may be looking to improve yourself and trade unhealthy patterns or habits for ones that will help you become your best self. Maybe you have addiction problems that you’re hoping to get rid of this year. 

According to a Kinsey Institute survey, 9% of those who took the survey and watched porn said they had tried to stop but weren’t able to. 

There aren’t as many resources as one might expect on the topic of Porn Addiction, but according to data from Ahrefs.com, this subject is searched by tens of thousands of people each month who are clearly seeking help. At Heartmind Medicine, we do not shy away from uncomfortable topics and will always do our best to inform you of solutions for whatever mental health issues you may face.

People watch porn for all kinds of reasons. Some reasons might include boredom, sex education, curiosity, and exploration of one’s sexual orientation. It can even be an agreed-upon part of a relationship. Pornography is considered by many experts to be a problem when it has detrimental effects on one’s social, mental, physical, or financial well-being and they still can’t seem to stop. A person might also be considered dependent if they use pornography to cope with other stressors in life.

Porn can be a tricky addiction and consume a lot of time, because, unlike other addictions such as food or some drugs, it can be more difficult to satiate yourself and easy to let it consume much of your day.

Is there hope for those who deal with Porn Addiction? Absolutely! Like many things, there is always hope if you are willing to do the hard work it takes to recover. If pornography is one of those vices that you’re hoping to quit, be assured that there are many options to help you on your journey. Continue reading to find out a few ways that might help you or someone you love put an end to their addictive cycle. 

What Is Porn Addiction?

Thankfully we live in a more sex-positive society than in the past, but how can you tell when your consumption of pornographic materials is veering off from regular consumption into an addiction? 

The jury seems to still be out on whether Problematic Pornography Use (PPU) counts as an addiction. It is not in the DSM and the American Psychological Association does not officially recognize it According to Valerie Voon, MD, PhD, a neuropsychiatrist who tested whether people with problematic pornography consumption reacted in the same way to sexually explicit materials that addicts reacted to their addiction’s paraphernalia, “The brains of compulsive porn users resemble the brains of alcoholics watching ads for a drink.” – American Psychological Association. While Pornography Addiction is not yet an official diagnosis, this issue seems to have a lot of overlapping qualities with recognized addictions such as alcoholism and other drug addictions.

It is still unclear if porn addiction functions in the brain like other addictions, so naturally, what people who deal with this dependance can do to be free from it is still up for debate as well. It might take some trial and error to figure out what works for you in terms of curbing problematic porn consumption. Below are a few actions that can help set you on the right path, and as always, we do advise you to speak with a professional who can address your concerns with you. 

Get Rid Of The Shame Of Pornography Addiction

There is often much shame harbored by the individual struggling with this issue of problematic porn consumption, or Porn Addiction. 

Researchers have found that perceiving oneself to have a Pornography Addiction has negative effects on self-esteem (Volk et al.,2019, p. 2). There is evidence to suggest that much of the distress that comes from PPU (Problematic Pornography Use) is due to the conflict between one’s self-concept and their use of pornography, not the use of porn itself. This suggests that shame has a poor effect on those with PPU and does nothing to help break the dependence. There’s no use in shame. Shame is paralyzing, not mobilizing emotion and it rarely results in positive transformation. 

Saying to yourself “I’m disgusting” or “I’m an immoral person” because of PPU will likely not shame you out of acting out your urges, but may cause you to identify with a Self-Concept (a perception of yourself) that is disgusting and immoral. When you conceptualize yourself in this demeaning way, you may end up finding comfort in your identity as a bad person who does bad things and unconsciously sabotages your own efforts of getting better. 

So what are some ways that you can prime yourself to finally give up “Porn Addiction”?

New Self-Concept/Self-Concept Strategies

Changing your Self-Concept to match the version of you that does not struggle with PPU could be your winning strategy. Maybe you’re wondering how you can possibly change your own perception of who you are. 

  • Identify: Identify your limiting beliefs. Where does your belief that you can’t stop viewing porn come from? You might think “the fact that I can’t seem to stop and haven’t been able to”, but your limiting beliefs about yourself existed before the dependence on porn, or it may have never manifested. There are over 40 million viewers of online explicit materials in the U.S. and only a small percentage (9%) say they have trouble stopping. Perhaps it’s the belief that you are an impulsive person, that you are sexually devious or inherently bad that lends itself to Problematic Pornography Use. 
  • Affirm: Look into daily affirmations as a way to reframe how you see yourself. It might sound silly to some, but we suggest giving it a try for a week and documenting how it affects you. The idea behind affirmations is that it provides a counter-narrative to the negative self-talk that we may have playing in our heads on repeat each day. Affirmations are a way of telling ourselves kind things about ourselves and the world so that we internalize these positive messages rather than pessimistic ones that feed into our bad habits, such as addiction. 
  • Visualize: When you feel compelled to view sexually explicit materials, try to visualize what the highest version of you would be doing right now instead. Begin to embody the highest version of yourself at that moment and take action to do something that aligns with a Self-Concept that you can be happy to identify with.

If you practice these strategies to change your idea about the kind of person you are, chances are you will lose the identity of shame that Pornography Addiction relies on.

Replace with a More Healthy Interest

If boredom or stress are among your triggers, replacing excessive pornography consumption with more healthy coping mechanisms for these emotions. When selecting a replacement, it’s important to make sure that the new activity is something you are genuinely interested in and happy to do when these feelings arise. 

If you’d like to get into art or music, keeping a watercolor book or guitar  by your bed could make it so following through with a healthy and fulfilling habit is just as easy, if not easier, than turning to your old addiction. Ease of access for your replacement activity is key. 

Ketamine Treatment

Finally, Ketamine Therapy helps with different types of addiction including drug & alcohol, and can aid in the production of new connections in the brain (neuroplasticity). These new connections paired with psychotherapy could help you form a new Self-Concept or help facilitate another change within you that can help you move past your addiction.

For a free consultation with Heartmind Medicine, follow this link to fill out the short form and we will personally reach out to you as soon as possible. 

If you’re dealing with Problematic Pornography Use, there is always hope to change. No matter how often you fall short of where you want to be, there will be a new chance each and every day for you to seize and take back your life. We hope these strategies are useful to you and if you need support with Ketamine Assisted Therapy, we are here to answer any questions you might have about what this revolutionary treatment can do for your journey. Be sure to follow @Heartmind Medicine on Instagram, Facebook and Tiktok for our series diving more into addiction and strategies to help that we did not cover here! 

  1. Weir, K. (2014, April 1). Is pornography addictive? Monitor on Psychology, 45(4). https://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/04/pornography
  2. Fred Volk, Christopher G. Floyd, Kathryn E. Bohannon, Susan M. Cole, Katie M. McNichol, Emily A. Schott & Zachary D. R. Williams (2019) The Moderating Role of the Tendency to Blame Others in the Development of Perceived Addiction, Shame, and Depression in Pornography Users, Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 26:3-4, 239-261, DOI: 10.1080/10720162.2019.1670301 
  3. All About Healing. (n.d.). What porn addiction recovery services provide hope and healing? All About Health. Retrieved February 6, 2023, from https://www.rachaelstarrtherapy.com/porn-addiction-recovery-services#:~:text=Overcoming%20a%20porn%20addiction%20may,through%20porn%20addiction%20recovery%20services
  4. The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. (2022, October 20). After ‘priming’ with ketamine, patients receiving self-esteem training had extended antidepressant benefits, study finds. Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. Retrieved February 6, 2023, from https://www.bbrfoundation.org/content/after-%E2%80%98priming%E2%80%99-ketamine-patients-receiving-self-esteem-training-had-extended-antidepressant
  5. Cherry, K. (2022, May 6). Understanding self-schema in psychology. Verywell Mind. Retrieved February 6, 2023, from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-self-schema-2795026
  6. The Coaching Academy. (2012, May 29). Seven steps to change your self-image forever. The Coaching Academy. Retrieved February 6, 2023, from https://www.the-coaching-academy.com/blog/2012/05/392
  7. Heartmind Medicine. (2021, August 8). Ketamine / entheogens. Heartmind Medicine. Retrieved February 6, 2023, from https://heartmindmedicine.com/services/ketamine-denver-entheogens/
  8. Pornography statistics: Who uses porn? SAGU. (n.d.). Retrieved February 6, 2023, from https://www.sagu.edu/thoughthub/pornography-statistics-who-uses-pornography/
  9. Recovery Worldwide, LLC. (2023, January 24). Treatment for porn addiction. Addiction Center. Retrieved February 6, 2023, from https://www.addictioncenter.com/drugs/porn-addiction/treatment-porn-addiction/
  10. Sussex Publishers. (2021, May 9). New research: 8 common reasons people use porn. Psychology Today. Retrieved February 6, 2023, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/finding-new-home/202105/new-research-8-common-reasons-people-use-porn#:~:text=The%20frequency%20of%20porn%20viewing,distraction%2C%20and%20stress%2Dreduction
  11. WebMD. (n.d.). Ketamine for addiction: What to know. WebMD. Retrieved February 6, 2023, from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/ketamine-for-addiction-what-to-know
  12. YouTube. (2022). 10 Tips for Early Recovery from Porn Addiction: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Tools. YouTube. Retrieved February 6, 2023, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2i9SOiBdpWY&ab_channel=DocSnipes.
  13. YouTube. (2022). Pornography Addiction and Compulsive Sexual Behavior : Diagnosis and Treatment Issues. YouTube. Retrieved February 6, 2023, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KlsXfx7C0g&ab_channel=DocSnipes.