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porn addiction recovery

Here’s what happens when you finally quit porn

A realistic, non-judgmental view of what happens when you finally give up porn. Many don’t understand how their brains and hormones heal when they quit.

Ed Latimore
Ed Latimore
Writer, retired boxer, self-improvement enthusiast

In the current era of constant distraction, addiction is a business model.1

Companies know exactly what buttons to push so you naturally assimilate an activity into your life. Before you know it, you’re picking up your phone, clicking on an app or an ad, and you can’t click away from the next video. Anything to create that dopamine overload so you repeat the habit they want you to.

While we know more about addiction these days, people rarely recognize when they’ve stepped over the line from casual to obsessive. And this it’s likely because that line is different for everyone.

If you haven’t noticed, internet porn is a business. And addiction tactics are as available to them as anyone. So when you finally decide to quit, you simply have to know what you’re up against.

In this post, you’ll discover what happens when you quit porn.

You go through a period of withdrawal

Addiction doesn’t have to look like the guy prostituting himself to buy drugs…

Or the girl falling down drunk at every party…

Porn addiction can simply look like the mom who’s stopped having sex in favor of a screen and excessive masturbation.

Addiction is more of a gradual process that takes hold over time. Once you’re ready to say, “I’m addicted,” your body has already gotten used to the dopamine overload or chemical dependence.

On the road to addiction, you develop patterns of behavior that ingrain addictive habits. These are called triggers. Triggers are typically psychological events that ‘trigger’ you to respond. That’s why the most successful forms of addiction treatment are based on relearning how to respond to triggers.2

But this relearning process takes time. The dopamine overload created by watching porn leads your body to crave it and pattern your natural urges around it. The lack of the previous levels of dopamine forces your body to reorganize your hormones leading to physical withdrawal symptoms.

In the first few weeks after quitting porn you may experience:

  • Mood swings
  • Headache
  • Intense cravings to look at porn
  • Low energy or sex drive
  • Loneliness or social awkwardness
  • Brain fog
  • Anxiety

Get 1-on-1 customized help for your porn addiction today

Freedom is possible, and sooner than you think…

Being addicted to porn is more than just “being addicted to porn.”

You’re addicted to the ritual, the excitement, and even the letdown afterward. But then you realize that you hate how it makes you feel, so you try to quit…except you can’t.

At least not for long. Every guy who’s ever tried to quit porn knows that it’s damn near impossible before you give in. 

Well, The Freedom Specialists are here to help. They have a revolutionary program that not only digs deep into triggers but trains you in

  • Breathwork
  • Visualization
  • Nervous system reprogramming
  • Rewriting your identity
  • Mindset shifts

And much more to help you finally get the porn monkey off your back. If you’re finally ready to free yourself from the chains of pornography addiction, check out this program.

Escape porn addiction now

You may relapse

The first four weeks right after quitting porn are the most difficult. And you may relapse. In fact, relapse is so common after addiction that it’s considered a phase of the recovery cycle.3 The period of time it takes you to recover from the withdrawal phase depends on how much and how long you spent watching porn.

Now, you may not relapse, but don’t be blind to the possibility.

The human body is incredibly efficient. It will work to incorporate foreign substances to better help you survive. Even if these substances are toxic. So when you stop an addictive behavior it’s like your body will try to convince you to go back to that behavior so it can reach equilibrium again.

So you’ll experience strong urges to go back to porn. Don’t do it. You’ll only prolong the withdrawal while adding a new layer of guilt.

You can masturbate during these cravings. Check out my in-depth guide on quitting porn for more information on surviving without internet porn. In short, the goal isn’t to stop masturbating—unless you’re interested in the benefits of the No Fap challenge—the goal is to break up with the hold porn has over you.

You regain your natural sexual rhythm

Once the initial effects of porn withdrawal are over you’ll start to feel normal again. Gradually, you’ll get back your natural sexual urges. Real women will start to turn you on again.

When you watch porn, you train your sexual energy to be stimulated by on-screen images and instant gratification. This makes it hard to connect with real-life stimuli. You forget the things that turned you on about your wife when you’re watching women with altered bodies positioned in unnatural ways for the camera.

It becomes nearly impossible to be present in the moment during sex and enjoy the feel of it. These are two elements that are necessary for a satisfying sex life.

Men who are addicted to porn experience sexual dysfunction like:

  • Low sex drive
  • Premature ejaculation
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Erectile dysfunction

You’ll feel lonely, but that’s a good thing

Finally, you’ll start to reconnect with others in more meaningful ways when you give up porn. Humans have an innate need to belong. When you don’t belong, you feel lonely. But that loneliness is an alarm, not a disease. It functions to help you go out and create relationships (sexual and nonsexual) with real people.

Read my article on how to be more charismatic to learn how to naturally attract more people.

If you’re in a relationship, you’ll notice you are more capable of giving and receiving love. Porn use has been directly correlated with divorce.4 This may not mean that porn is a cause of a breakup, but it doesn’t help things.

When you stop watching porn, you train your sexual behavior to respond to artificial stimuli. This can ruin your sex life. So when you quit porn you rewire your sex drive to help you get close to your significant other again. You start to see each other as a source of sexual gratification again.

The brain fog clears

Brain fog isn’t always easily detectable. Sometimes, it’s simply not feeling like yourself. Other times, it shows up as forgetfulness or a lack of focus.

Many things can cause brain fog such as lack of sleep, diet, stress, and more. All of these things can suffer from an excessive amount of porn watching, reducing your cognitive ability.

Once the brain fog clears, however, you begin to notice that you regain the ability to be present. You find you can be more creative, connect more with others, and get more done.

You become more productive

With great focus comes great productivity. Sexual dysfunction isn’t the only worry you have to be mindful of when it comes to excessive porn use. Porn, like other addictions, reduces your ability to resist impulsive behavior.5 This makes you more prone to distraction once it’s time to get some real work done.

Things that are easy to access like social apps, games, or internet porn are easy to turn to for random distractions. The problem with this is a few seconds turn into a few hours and now you’re playing catch up.

Plus, a side effect of constantly viewing porn is that you use it as a coping mechanism for boredom or confusion. When you don’t have porn hijacking your daily life, you can fill that time with activities that actually matter.

Your overall mental health improves

Nowadays, more college students, men and women, are using internet porn to cope with feelings of loneliness and depression. This kind of use is a dangerous breeding ground for addiction.

Mental health talks these days seem only to focus on dealing with trauma. And dealing with your shit is a good idea but it leads people to either:

  1. Seek out their own trauma
  2. Assume because they weren’t abused, their mental health is fine

But mental health is more like physical health. Only you don’t catch mental illness like anxiety and depression the same way you catch a cold–you develop it. You nurture it. And before you know it, you’re standing on the scale carrying 60 extra pounds of unnecessary weight.

So using porn as a coping mechanism helps you ignore the mental weight you’re accumulating.

When you quit porn, your anxiety levels decrease and you start to feel an overall improvement in your well-being. Shame often accompanies an addiction simply because you don’t feel like you can get over it. This compounds feelings of depression. And depending on how you were raised, you may feel shame around porn use altogether. Quitting porn reduces these feelings and you start to feel you have more control over your life.

You’ll regain your confidence

One side effect of no longer watching porn is that you regain your confidence. You gain confidence in your own self-image and stop constantly comparing yourself to the people in the videos.

Porn is an entertainment product. And like all entertainment products, it has a level of sensationalizing. For example, using fake ejaculate or fake penises to make it look like men can go for hours. Even the amateur stuff has this level of sensationalizing because it’s become easier and easier to replicate.

When you stop watching porn you’ll notice you stop seeing others for what they can offer sexually. You stop having unrealistic sexual expectations and your overall self-esteem improves. Most importantly, if you’re a young man, you stop feeling so anxious around girls your age.

What really happens when you quit porn

Quitting any addictive behavior is going to be a difficult transition to living without it. But it’s much harder when you don’t know what to expect.

So here’s what to expect when you decide to quit porn:

  • You go through a period of physical and mental withdrawal symptoms
  • You may relapse
  • You regain your natural sexual urges
  • You’ll feel lonely, but that’s okay
  • You’ll start to think more clearly
  • You seek less temporary distractions
  • Your overall mental health improves
  • You lose unrealistic expectations about yourself and others

Get 1-on-1 customized help for your porn addiction today

Freedom is possible, and sooner than you think…

Being addicted to porn is more than just “being addicted to porn.”

You’re addicted to the ritual, the excitement, and even the letdown afterward. But then you realize that you hate how it makes you feel, so you try to quit…except you can’t.

At least not for long. Every guy who’s ever tried to quit porn knows that it’s damn near impossible before you give in. 

Well, The Freedom Specialists are here to help. They have a revolutionary program that not only digs deep into triggers but trains you in

  • Breathwork
  • Visualization
  • Nervous system reprogramming
  • Rewriting your identity
  • Mindset shifts

And much more to help you finally get the porn monkey off your back. If you’re finally ready to free yourself from the chains of pornography addiction, check out this program.

Escape porn addiction now

References

  1. May, Daniel Psychological Addiction Is the New American Business Model. Antidote Oct 18, 2019https://antidote.substack.com/p/psychological-addiction-is-the-new?s=r 

  2. NIDA. "Evidence-Based Approaches to Drug Addiction Treatment." _National Institute on Drug _Abuse, 3 Jun. 2020 https://nida.nih.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/evidence-based-approaches-to-drug-addiction-treatment Accessed 14 Jun. 2022. 

  3. Hartney Elizabeth BSc, MSc, MA, Ph.D. Updated on June 05, 2020. The Stages of Change Model of Overcoming Addiction https://www.verywellmind.com/the-stages-of-change-model-of-overcoming-addiction-21961 Accessed 14 Jun. 2022. 

  4. Vedantam, Shankar. NPR.org: Researchers Explore Pornography’s effect on long-term relationships Oct. 9, 2017. https://www.npr.org/2017/10/09/556606108/research-explores-the-effect-pornography-has-on-long-term-relationships (accessed June 14, 2022) 

  5. Hilton, Donald L, and Clark Watts. “Pornography addiction: A neuroscience perspective.” Surgical neurology international vol. 2 19. 21 Feb. 2011, doi:10.4103/2152-7806.76977 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3050060/ (accessed June 14, 2022) 

Ed Latimore
About the author

Ed Latimore

I’m a writer, competitive chess player, Army veteran, physicist, and former professional heavyweight boxer. My work focuses on self-development, realizing your potential, and sobriety—speaking from personal experience, having overcome both poverty and addiction.

Follow me on Twitter.