About Addiction & Sobriety

6 signs that you’re definitely addicted to porn

Maybe you’re wondering if you’re addicted to porn. I’ve compiled a list of the most common and obvious signs that you have a problem with porn.

Ed Latimore, author, blogger, and retired pro boxer
Ed Latimore Author, retired boxer, self-improvement enthusiast

Pornography is nothing new.

People have been enjoying porn in one way or another for thousands of years. However, there was a high degree of work required to acquire pornography.

I’m 34 years old. It wasn’t too long ago that you had to visit a shady adult entertainment store in a seedy part of town if you wanted to acquire pornography.

Not only did you have to visit a store, but you also had to keep your magazines, VHS tapes, and DVDs somewhere. Most guys my age got their first exposure to pornography by finding a relative’s collection of VHS tapes and DVDs a.k.a. their “porno stash”.

Old school porno stash

The tapes were always so big, colorful, and drew so much attention to them

If you weren’t willing to accumulate a collection of “pornos”, your other options were to visit an “adult theatre” where pornographic films were shown and you could masturbate in a dark crowd.

Because most people were afraid of being labeled a pervert, this risk of public exposure resulted in significantly less pornography consumption. While there was always a demand for it, you risked exposure.

Not only was it more difficult to acquire, but it was also a challenge to keep it a secret.

Then came high-speed, wireless internet, and smartphones. We have the world in our pockets. With all this information is now available 24/7, learning, working, and communicating will never be the same.

Everyone in every industry and every station of life was a winner because of the advances in our ability to communicate and send information around the globe from devices small enough to fit in our hands.

But there was perhaps no bigger winner than the pornography industry. To celebrate their 10th anniversary, Pornhub, one of the internet’s largest streaming pornography sites, compiled a survey about user’s viewing habits from 2008-2017.

  • In 2008, 1% of viewers visited the site via mobile phones. In 2017, it was 75%.
  • In 2008, 134 hours of pornography was uploaded to the site. In 2017, it was 476,291.
  • In 2008, there were 1 million daily visitors to the site. In 2017, 75 million daily visitors.

Even without Pornhub’s data, there are other studies that demonstrate how pervasive internet pornography is. The numbers don’t lie: 70% of men 18-24 admit to watching porn at least once a week.

The Rising Resistance To The Porn Attack

Out of the growth of porn has also come a community of guys whose lives have been damaged by porn. They are realizing that while pornography is fun in the short-term, there are debilitating long-term consequences to heavy porn use.

There has been a massive spread of websites, tweets, and discussion around the spread of porn. Amongst these websites are even some that test those who think they might have an issue with pornography.

Porn is the silent addiction. Unlike drugs or alcohol, people privately engage in their porn habit.

  • You don’t get together with your buddies to watch porn.
  • No one looks at you after a porn session and says tells you that you might need to cut back.
  • Loved ones don’t stage porn interventions.
  • There are no pornography rehabilitation centers.

Only recently has there been a movement to even recognize that guys are getting addicted to porn. Proponents of the porn industry or guys who have yet to suffer from some of the debilitating side effects of compulsive pornography use say porn addiction isn’t real, but we know better.

Maybe you’re wondering if you’re addicted to porn. Or maybe you know someone and you’re wondering if they’re a casual watcher or a hardcore user.

There are a few different ways to know if you have a porn addiction. I’ve compiled a list of the most common and obvious signs that you have a problem with porn.

You Can’t Stop

Trying to quit porn

Try as you might, the porn owns your soul (credit: https://www.christianpost.com/)

This one is the most obvious sign, yet it can not be glossed over.

Try to stop watching porn for the next 2 weeks.

For anyone who’s been a daily porn watcher for 5 -10 years, this will be close to impossible.

Years of training your brain to expect pleasure before you go to sleep, or when you feel anxious, has doomed you to a reward loop where you might not even realize yourself being triggered.

The difference between enjoyment and addiction is one of “want to” versus “need to”. While the underlying cause of your problem might just be poor self-control, your addiction isn’t an issue until there are adverse outcomes.

Until then, it’s just a fun process.

You Start Spending Money On Porn

Dealing porn like a drug dealer

In its 10-year anniversary survey, Pornhub released the data on the amount of videos uploaded on their site. By the year 2017, there were:

  • 10,059,213 videos uploaded
  • 684,352 Gigabytes of video uploaded
  • 1,515,217 hours uploaded

To put these numbers in perspective, Pornhub boasts the following:

The first telegraph message was sent May 24, 1844. If you started watching Pornhub then, you would still be watching new videos today.

This seemed like an exaggeration, so I did the math myself.

Indeed, if you somehow managed to do NOTHING but watch videos (not even sleep) uploaded to Pornhub from the day the first telegram was sent to the day the survey was released (May 25, 2017), you would only have watched 1,513,416 hours of porn.

This means there would be over 2000 hours of unviewed footage remaining. And Pornhub also boasts that users uploaded 476,291 hours of video alone in 2016. That is almost double what it was the year before.

That is a spectacular amount of porn, but more spectacular is that ALL of it is free!!

And Pornhub is only 1 of many free streaming sites. There is no logical reason to spend money on pornography. And yet, it’s estimated that pornography generates $6-$15 billion dollars annually.

Even on the low end, that’s a lot of money spent to enjoy something that has more free content than you could ever possibly view in a lifetime–even if ALL you did was watch pornography.

If you start to pay for pornography in any way, you are certainly addicted and need to take action now.

(Read: “How To Quit Porn”)

You’re Depressed

Depression over porn

Do you constantly have low energy?

Does the world seem kind of grey?

Well, you’re probably suffering from a common side effect of pornography.

The pleasure we feel when watching pornography is mostly dopamine being released by neurotransmitters in your brain. The kicker is that it’s artificial joy. It’s a simulation fooling your brain into creating massive unnatural releases of happy chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin.

Dopamine is called the “pleasure molecule,” though this is technically inaccurate. Dopamine drives us to seek rewards and we experience that drive via anticipation. Unfortunately, this often becomes an addiction.

Dopamine itself does not cause the addiction, but the role it plays not only makes you addicted, but leads to depression. The spike of dopamine you receive from sexual activity and orgasm, however brief, is on par with nicotine or morphine.

After extended porn use, dopamine cells begin to fire more strongly in anticipation of consuming rather than in conjunction with actual consumption. Cues and triggers, such as hearing a porn star’s name, time alone, fatigue, rejection, or boredom can elicit conditioned, sudden surges of dopamine release. These surges then trigger cravings to use or even binge.

It can take months for your brain to stop responding this way.

Remember, your primitive brain is happy because it thinks that the naked woman you just blasted your load to on the screen is going to bear your children. Of course, it’s not real but at the neurochemical level, your brain can’t really tell the difference.

All that dopamine being released by the artificial but intense stimulus is so overpowering that the rest of your life will seem pale in comparison. Not only is it not real, but you can also release it on command without doing any of the challenging work required to earn sexual release with a woman.

You got all the good feelings without doing any of the hard work. This is no different than a drug addict who abuses a substance to feel good rather than the healthy high that comes after doing meaningful work.

Even worse, because porn allows you to release dopamine on-demand, you build a tolerance to it. Like any other drug addict, you need more to get the same level of enjoyment as you did the first time you used it. As long as you’re on the drug, real life will never compare.

How can walking in a park ever be fun?

How can we appreciate the small things in life?

How can real sex ever compare to digital depravity?

The inability to enjoy even the normally enjoyable things in life is not only a telltale sign of depression, but an indication that you are almost certainly addicted to pornography.

(Read: “Why Am I So Unhappy”)

Your Dick Doesn’t Work

Porn induced erectile dysfunction

Porn induced erectile dysfunction (PIED) is a relatively new diagnosis for Erectile Dysfunction (ED). It’s specifically when men have trouble maintaining erections due to heavy porn use.

It’s one of the most common reasons men take on the no porn pledge. They literally can’t have sex. If this is not properly treated, they’ll stop having sex altogether and just watch porn. It’s easier anyways.

Yet doctors just prescribe Viagra instead of asking them about their porn habits. Welcome to America, where we have a pill for every problem and a problem for every pill.

Even worse, companies like Hims and Roman have begun to cater to this audience by making it possible to get Viagra at home, circumventing the potentially difficult conversation you might have with your doctor.

The problem is simple and no pill can fix it:

**Your dick doesn’t work because you masturbate twice a day, every day, to the most exaggerated and unrealistic depictions of sex on the internet. **

No human woman will compare to a dozen beautiful naked women performing deviant sexual acts in the best lighting looking like they’re having a blast. Especially when endless varieties of that woman can be accessed on demand.

The levels of reported ED issues among young men has skyrocketed in recent years. To anyone familiar with the porn epidemic this is not surprising at all.

While erectile dysfunction has multivariate causes, it is not an issue that young men typically encounter. However, we already know that pornography wreaks havoc on the brain’s response to dopamine. Sexual desire and getting an erection are all related to dopamine sensitivity.

In the book Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow: From Habit to Harmony in Sexual Relationships, the authors state:

In the last decade or so, addiction researchers have discovered that too much dopamine stimulation has a paradoxical effect. The brain decreases its ability to respond to dopamine signals (desensitization). This occurs with all addictions, both chemical and natural. In some porn users, the response to dopamine is dropping so low that they can’t achieve an erection without constant hits of dopamine via the Internet.

Of course, men who are above 40 are less likely to be affected by heavy pornography use since they reached puberty in the age of magazines and not-so-easily obtained videos.

Because who wants to go into a XXX video store and ask the clerk for Anal Busters 4: The Return of Rodney Rod.

It’s embarrassing. But now you can simply log on to your favorite streaming site and be bombarded with all of your fantasies to your heart’s content and the exhaustion of your dopamine receptors.

If you’ve had anxiety while performing, had an issue getting erect, or suffer from premature ejaculation, porn might be the culprit.

The good news is that with time it is reversible. In fact, most guys get over it within 90 days.

Your Porn Taste Has Escalated

Furry Costume

Remember when you used to read porn magazines, or peek in the lingerie section of the Sears magazine and that was titillating.

Then we got VHS tapes, but that’s still pretty inconvenient.

Then came the internet and that was fun, but damn the speeds were slow.

Then came high-speed broadband and the crystal clear seduction of the porn streaming websites was complete.

At first, you might have watched some people having sex, and that was great. But now?

Your porn tastes have escalated. Now you need to watch what you would have once considered grotesque. In fact, you’re not alone. Hardcore pornography of the 90s is considered softcore now.

Porn tastes have evolved because people have desensitized their brains to just regular stuff. Furthermore, the combined powers of the Coolidge Effect along with the amount and variety of porn ensures that you’ll never be without a video to satisfying your cravings.

A regular women having regular sex can never compare to dolled up, edited women all performing exactly what you want, the way you want it, when you want it. Even if they aren’t actually in front of you.

Brain Fog And Low Energy

Brain fog from porn energy

It’s difficult for you to concentrate and keep your thoughts in order. You can’t remember what you’re supposed to do or what you were just saying.

It’s starting to affect not only your professional life but your personal one as well.

It’s called brain fog and it’s what people who quit porn describe the feeling they had before they saw the light (life without porn).

The thing about brain fog is that you don’t know it when you have it. Brain fog is when everything seems so cloudy, unsure, and scary. The world always seems like a dark and dangerous place. I’ve talked about a similar state of mind I experienced as an alcoholic.

When you quit watching porn the fear and fog evaporates. This is due to you dopamine levels being balanced out.

The surge of dopamine you experience when orgasming to internet pornography will eventually cause your brain to be less sensitive to its mood and cognitive-enhancing effects. Part of the recovery process is that your brain becomes more sensitive to dopamine so you need less of it to get the same effects.

The same reason that regular women fail to excite you while you’re addicted to pornography is the same reason why you experience brain fog, low energy and feel like shit.

The problem is that you probably don’t realize just how messed you up.

Most of us pick up the porn habit in our early teens. If you’ve been watching porn since before you finished puberty, you would have no idea what you’re supposed to feel like. Your energy and emotions have been under the influence of artificial stimulation for year entire adult life.

If you feel like you’ve been in a fog, mental daze, or simply not sharp at all, then your brain is almost certainly addicted to pornography. It is acclimated to pornography and relies on it just to feel good.

So You’re Addicted To Porn. Now What?

You’ve got the 6 major symptoms of porn addiction:

  1. You can’t stop
  2. You start spending money on porn
  3. You’re depressed
  4. Your d*ck doesn’t work
  5. Your porn taste has escalated
  6. You have brain fog and low energy

At least you recognized it. Many of us don’t even realize how much internet porn has affected us.

Do not despair. All of this can be undone.

The shame. The depression. The ED. The late-night hentai sessions. The low energy.

You can quit porn. You developed this habit and you can undo it as well.

It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

You’ll come out the other side better and you’ll thank yourself.


Ed Latimore, author, blogger, and retired pro boxer
Ed Latimore Author, retired boxer, self-improvement enthusiast

Further Reading

The alcohol detox diet
From gaming addict to $60k/month
8 things to know if you want to quit drinking
How to have fun and socialize sober