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The three most popular pornography websites report about 6 billion visits per month. That’s about 135,000 visits per minute — on just three sites. While “porn addiction” is not an official diagnosis, it is clearly a major concern. Consumers — many of them exposed to porn at a young age — feel an uncontrollable compulsion to watch videos that have become increasingly violent, sexist, and racist.  But who is talking about this? One survey found that three-quarters of parents were certain that their kids had never seen a porn video. Of those parents’ children, more than half had watched and still watch pornography. We need a collective wake-up call.

Easy Access Can Lead to an Addiction or Compulsion 

The numbers above are just a small sampling. Free access to porn exposes us to something that involves the same mechanisms that result in other forms of addiction. Whether it’s called addiction or compulsion, the behavior involves a lack of control. This does not imply that every porn-watcher is addicted. But there are signs to watch for.

Pornography Red Flags 
  • Dedicating more and more time to watching porn
  • Feeling unable to stop even when you try to stop
  • Neglecting other responsibilities
  • Feeling guilt and shame about your porn consumption
  • Watching porn in risky or inappropriate places
  • Needing to watch more and more extreme videos to feel aroused
  • Unable to get aroused with your romantic or sexual partners
  • Hiding your porn use
  • Feeling moody and agitated when you try to stop each porn

It sure sounds like an addiction but again, this is not about word choices. It’s about freeing yourself from a habit that is negative for everyone involved.

Yes, You Can Stop An Addiction To Porn — Here’s How! 
Acceptance and Awareness

Recognize that you have a need to stop. In fact, there are many reasons for you to stop. If you understand why you’re giving up porn, it’s easy to stick to the change.

Remove Your Access to Porn

If you own anything that’s a hard copy, throw it away immediately. You can slip back into your old habits quite easily if there’s something within reach. In terms of the far more common digital pornography:

  • Delete any and all pornographic content you have downloaded
  • Delete all porn-related bookmarks on every single one of your devices
  • Look into porn filters and, if you have someone you trust to help you, ask them to install the software on your devices but not give you the passwords
Be Patient With Yourself

Breaking a compulsive habit is not a simple or easy task. If you relapse, take action immediately. But do not slide into a place of shame, blame, and self-loathing. Us the energy to instead keep you focused on the worthy effort you are engaged in.

Choose Healthy Replacement Habits 

What will you do when you get the urge? It can be incredibly helpful to have a healthy habit ready to replace the compulsion for porn. When you feel the need to watch something pornographic, choose instead to do something like:

  • Exercise
  • Something artistic and creative
  • Call a friend to have a meaningful conversation
  • Something productive in your home (cooking, cleaning, etc.)

Depending on the specifics of your life, the possibilities are endless, e.g. reading, praying, meditating, journaling, etc.

Connect With Others 

Porn addiction is very common. This means there are countless support groups — in-person and online — available to you. You’ll be reminded that you’re not alone and that plenty of other people understand the struggle. The web-based groups offer you the anonymity you may prefer.

Also, connect with a professional. I can help you recover and heal. Let’s connect and talk soon so you can learn more about sex addiction.

You can also get the latest info by following me on Facebook.

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Therapy for Men is a practice led by Dr. Rick Pomfret which offers counseling and psychotherapy services tailored to the needs of men. Their services encompass anxiety therapy, depression therapy, relationship therapy, men’s issues and support for those navigating life transitions or divorce. With offices in San Francisco and Corte Madera, Therapy4Men provides convenient access to mental health care for men in the Bay Area and online across California.