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One of the biggest challenges we face as humans is breaking a behaviour. When you have a pattern that creates negative consequences in your life, you may need help. Here we explain what pornography addiction is and what you can do about it.

What is pornography addiction?

Pornography addiction, also known as sex addiction, is problematic and addictive behaviour related to pornography or sexual activities. It is similar to other addictions and characterised by excessive consumption of pornography, lack of control, development of tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, loss of interest in other activities, and negative impacts on life. Professional help can be important if someone is experiencing problematic pornography consumption.

Is pornography addiction a diagnosis?

Pornography addiction is not a formal medical or psychiatric diagnosis according to the standard diagnostic manuals such as DSM-5 or ICD-10. There is no consensus among experts on whether ‘pornography addiction’ should be classified as a separate diagnosis, and it is a subject of debate in science.

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Rather than being a formal diagnosis, ‘pornography addiction’ is a term used to describe a pattern of problematic and addictive behaviour related to pornography or sexual activities. It can be a manifestation of various underlying problems, such as impulse disorders or other mental health issues.

If someone is experiencing problems with pornography or sexual behaviour that are negatively affecting their lives, it is wise to seek professional therapy to understand and address the issues. The therapist can use various treatment methods to help the client improve their situation and relationships, whether it is formally classified as an ‘addiction’ or not.

Causes of pornography addiction

The causes of problematic pornography consumption can be complex and vary from person to person. Possible factors include biological vulnerabilities, psychological problems such as anxiety or depression, use as a coping mechanism for stress, increased availability of pornography on the internet, the influence of societal attitudes towards sexuality, and early exposure to pornography at a young age.

It is important to note that the causes may be unique to each individual, and are usually a combination of several factors that come into play. Professional help can be essential to understand and manage the problem if someone is experiencing problematic pornography consumption.


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Symptoms of pornography addiction

The symptoms of pornography addiction or problematic pornography consumption can include excessive use, lack of control over the behaviour, development of tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, negative impacts on different areas of life, loss of interest in other activities, loss of control, continued consumption despite negative consequences, hidden consumption, and decreased self-esteem.

It is important to remember that symptoms vary from person to person, and professional help can be crucial if someone is experiencing problematic pornography consumption that is negatively affecting their life.

Help with pornography addiction

If you are wondering whether you have a pornography addiction or are at risk of developing one, it is important to seek help. Otherwise, problems can develop and become even worse over time.

Treatment for pornography addiction

Treatment for pornography addiction or problematic pornography consumption can be individualised and vary depending on the person’s needs and the severity of the problem. Here are some common treatment methods that can be used:

  1. Therapy: Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a common form of therapy that can be used to treat porn addiction. The therapist helps the client identify the underlying causes of their behaviour and develops strategies to manage desires and control impulses.
  2. Support groups: Participating in support groups or self-help groups with others experiencing similar problems can be useful. It provides a sense of community and support from people who understand the challenges.
  3. Family therapy: Sometimes problematic pornography use can affect relationships and family life. Family therapy can help to understand and manage the impact of the problem on relationships.
  4. Medication: In some cases, doctors may consider the use of medication to treat underlying anxiety or depression that may be linked to the problem.
  5. Internet filters and self-control tools: Using technological tools such as internet filters or self-control apps can help limit the availability of pornographic material.
  6. Lifestyle changes: Making positive lifestyle changes, such as developing new interests and activities, can reduce the risk of relapse.
  7. Education and awareness: Understanding the consequences of problematic pornography consumption and raising awareness of its impact can be part of treatment.

It is important that treatment is individualised and the client works with a qualified therapist to develop an effective treatment plan. Treatment may also include addressing any underlying issues, such as anxiety, depression or low self-esteem. The aim is to help the client achieve better control over their behaviour and improve their life.

Treatment with CBT online

You can get therapy for porn addiction online. Lavendla has licensed psychologists and CBT therapists who offer treatment through video conferencing sessions.

From conversation to understanding and change

Talk therapy is often the first step in seeking help. By working with a psychologist or therapist, you can begin to understand your symptoms and triggers, which is essential for long-term change.

When professional help is unavoidable

If you are experiencing signs of abuse or addiction that are affecting your life or work, it is essential that you seek professional help. It is never too late to break free from abuse or addiction. Help is available and support is just a click away. So if you or someone you love is struggling with these issues, do not hesitate to seek professional help.

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12 common questions and answers about porn addiction

What is pornography addiction?

Porn addiction, also called sex addiction or pornography addiction, means problematic and addictive behaviour related to pornography or sexual activities.

Is pornography addiction a diagnosis?

Pornography addiction is not formally recognised as a specific diagnosis in major diagnostic manuals, but this does not mean that you do not suffer from problem behaviour. It is possible to get help.

Can pornography addiction be cured?

All types of addiction can be treated, but it often requires care and support. It is possible to change your patterns and improve your quality of life.

What are the signs that I may be addicted to pornography?

Symptoms include unlimited consumption of pornography, lack of control, development of tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, loss of interest in other activities and negative impact on life.

What are the risks of pornography addiction?

The potential risks range from problems with our physical and mental health to problems in relationships. It is therefore advisable to seek help if you have this problem.

How can I help a family member who is addicted to pornography?

The first step is to offer your support. Encourage them to seek professional help and stand by them during treatment. Seek information about the problem if you find it difficult to understand and, if you are a partner, you may also need therapy.

What treatment options are available?

There are several different types of treatment such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Can you have other mental health problems while being addicted to pornography?

There may be underlying mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, self-esteem problems or other mental health problems.

What can be done in case of relapse?

Relapse can happen and it is important to seek help immediately. Relapse is not a sign of failure but it is important to act quickly to get back on track.

What resources are available?

In addition to our professional therapists and psychologists, there are many websites, books, and support groups that can offer additional information and support.

Can I be treated online?

Yes, our therapists and psychologists offer therapy sessions online via video conferencing.

How important is the support system around a person with an addiction?

A support system is often crucial to successful recovery. This includes professional help with treatment and a good support system both emotionally and practically. It can help reduce the risk of relapse and help the person maintain a healthier lifestyle.

Treatment steps to improve quality of life

Treatment for pornography addiction can be done in different ways, but it is usually tailored to the individual’s needs and the severity of the problem. Here is a general description of how treatment for pornography addiction can work:

  1. Initial assessment: Treatment usually begins with a thorough assessment and evaluation of the person’s problematic pornography consumption. This includes determining how long the behaviour has been going on, its impact on different areas of life and any underlying causes and other mental health issues.
  2. Treatment plan: Based on the assessment, an individual treatment plan is developed. This plan may include different therapy methods, support measures and treatment goals.
  3. Therapy methods: Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a common form of therapy used to treat pornography addiction. The therapist works with the client to identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviours related to pornography consumption. CBT typically includes developing strategies to manage desires, learning to manage impulses, and changing behavioural patterns.
  4. Support groups: Participating in support groups or self-help groups with others experiencing similar problems can be a valuable part of treatment. It provides a sense of community and support.
  5. Other measures: If necessary, it may be important to take measures to limit access to pornographic material, such as installing internet filters or self-control apps.
  6. Working on underlying issues: If the client has underlying mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression, these can also be treated as part of the therapy.

It is important to note that treatment can be a long-term process, and relapses are possible. It is therefore important that the client has the support and resources to deal with any relapses if they occur. Treatment should be carried out by a qualified therapist with experience in treating addiction and sexual problems.

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Written by dominic

Dominic is a Cape Town-based copywriter and editor with a background in psychology.