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porn addiction recovery

Why it’s so hard to quit porn

Why is porn such an addictive habit that’s so hard to break? Learn why so that you can do everything in your power to break the addiction.

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

Many modern conveniences come with some serious downsides on the backend.

If you watch internet porn, you’d be considered the epitome of normal by most people’s standards. Porn is widely available and easy to access. Porn is also increasingly socially acceptable.

But the downside is that it’s incredibly hard to quit.

About 40 million people in the United States watch porn regularly. Another 200,000 are considered addicts.1

However, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone that readily calls themselves a porn addict.

Porn Masturbation Orgasm (PMO) creates nearly identical addictive patterns that we see in people that use alcohol and hard drugs. To kick my alcohol habit, I first had to get honest about why it is so hard to quit.

That honesty has allowed me to build a lifestyle around staying sober, which I’ve done for the last 8 years. In this article, I’ll provide you with the insight you need to know on why porn is so hard to quit so you can do the work and make changes in your life.

Porn today is inherently addictive

The first reason porn is hard to quit is that it’s designed to be that way. It’s an instant gratification piece of digital candy that touches on our brain’s pleasure centers and lights up the reward system.

Your brain starts producing dopamine every time you search for your favorite scenes and enjoy them in 4K. Technology today allows people to watch porn on 50-inch TV screens, in 3D, and with ASMR effects that make it all the more immersive.

With online porn, you can pretty much find footage of humans (and other species’) performing any sexual act your mind can imagine. It’s way more sexual stimuli than anyone could reasonably experience in a lifetime.

When you wash, rinse, and repeat this cycle, habitual porn watching eventually deactivates your brain’s frontal lobe,2 which is responsible for:

  • Social interactions
  • Problem-solving
  • Impulse control
  • Emotions and memory
  • Higher thought
  • Motivation
  • Personality

This all creates the perfect storm for addiction over a long period of time. And this addiction becomes more of an uphill battle every single time you watch porn.

Read here to learn science-backed reasons porn is harmful.

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It’s free and widely available

If I asked you where you get your porn, you could probably rattle off two or three go-to porn sites without much thought. If I asked you how much you paid for these sites, you’d probably laugh in my face.

Porn is a $97 billion industry, but the average user watches porn on free sites that have massive archives of scenes and categories.3

When you’re hooked on booze, cigarettes, or hard drugs, there’s a motivation to quit once it starts hurting your pockets. That’s non-existent for internet porn, so you have to find your own reasons.

Check out my article on reasons to quit porn.

Men today use more coping mechanisms

Porn is the ultimate coping mechanism for men…

Today, 9% of men live with daily feelings of depression.4

About 21 million adults experienced a depressive episode in a recent year.5

Any mental health issue you’re going through requires significant effort to overcome. It starts with making a decision to work through it. Coping with these problems with porn-induced dopamine hits keeps you from ever making that decision, let alone doing the work to fix your life.

That’s when you get stuck.

Instead of booking an appointment with a therapist, you research new porn fetishes to masturbate to. Instead of getting out of your comfort zone, making new friends, and working out, you sit alone in a dark room masturbating. Sometimes twice. Sometimes three times.

The more you repeat this cycle, the more difficult it is for you to advance from a coping frame to a thriving frame. You might even start blaming everything outside of yourself for your chronic misfortune. At that point, you’ll have zero motivation to sacrifice immediate gratification for a bigger and better life.

The journey toward a better life always requires you to bet on yourself. If you’ve been following the blog, you’ll see that I recently explained how the cost of success is like poker.

It hijacks your natural sex drive

Accessing your sex drive through a digital screen is a lot like needing “liquid courage” to be social. In a vacuum, it’s a nice little external perk to help you feel things.

In practical reality, it becomes a crutch that robs you of feelings you naturally have access to.

Check out this post to learn how many men are taking the NoFap challenge and joining the online support group to regain their natural sexual feelings that pornography addiction hijacked.

Men who commit to a 30-day NoFap reboot often experience a flatline period, during which they have no sex drive. This happens because your brain is rewiring the damage porn did to your brain by hijacking your natural cycle of desire, arousal, orgasm, and resolution 6.

But masturbating to porn three times a day is proof that you just have a really high sex drive, right? Not quite.

Science shows that this level of hypersexuality is closer linked to avoidant behavior, and will likely lead to erection issues or delayed ejaculation.7 You become desensitized to sexual situations, so you need more intense sexual situations to feel those feelings.

Read up on the withdrawal symptoms of porn and how these cravings make quitting a struggle.

The downsides aren’t immediately apparent

If you ever touched the stove when you were a kid, you know that the intense pain created immediate feedback.

You probably yanked your hand away involuntarily before even realizing what happened. Even a mild burn likely left you with a memory that has stuck with you to this day.

You get none of that immediate feedback with porn.

You get the exact opposite.

You get rewarded with pleasure and feel-good chemicals.

The negatives of pornography don’t become obvious until much later:

  • Brain fog that makes it difficult to focus
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED)
  • Premature ejaculation
  • Delayed ejaculation
  • Neglecting life responsibilities
  • Bad romantic relationships
  • Low sex drive

By the time you experience these side effects, you’re likely already addicted.

These problems also don’t show up right away because men are increasingly isolated and less likely to interact with real women they find attractive. A study showed that 33% of young men reported not having sex in a recent calendar year.8

When you’re not approaching women, there’s no real-life social feedback to correct your course. This means you have no motivating factors to quit porn use.

It’s never too late to do something about addiction to porn. It may feel like it’s too late, but you’re never out of the game. Especially if put together a solid coaching plan with guys like The Freedom Specialists. There aren’t many guys I trust in the “help guys get off of porn space”, but I dig their approach. They put together a tailored program, complete with 1-on-1 guidance and accountability. I write a lot about helping guys with porn and I trust the method they’ve got. Check them out—The Freedom Specialists.

Why is it so hard to quit porn?

Hard doesn’t mean impossible. But I’d be lying to you if I said you can just flip a switch and break such an addictive porn habit.

Start doing the work of learning who you are now, versus who you want to be. From there, it’s a matter of cutting out the behavioral patterns that get in the way.

You’ll get a headstart with my Vicebreakers course, which helps you gain self-respect, self-control, and self-esteem as you kick your bad habits and addictions.

The rest is up to you.

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. The Recovery Village. Pornography Facts and Statistics. September 29, 2021. https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/process-addiction/porn-addiction/pornography-statistics/. (Accessed April 22, 2022) 

  2. Queensland Government – Queensland Health. Brain Map Frontal Lobes. January 21, 2021. https://www.health.qld.gov.au/abios/asp/bfrontal (Accessed April 22, 2022) 

  3. NBC News. Things Are Looking Up in America's Porn Industry. January 20, 2015. https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/things-are-looking-americas-porn-industry-n289431 (Accessed April 22, 2022) 

  4. American Psychological Association. By the Numbers, Men and Depression. December 2015. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2015/12/numbers (Accessed April 22, 2022) 

  5. National Institute of Mental Health. Major Depression. January 2022. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression (Accessed April 22, 2022) 

  6. Cleveland Clinic. Sexual Response Cycle. March 8, 2021. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9119-sexual-response-cycle (Accessed April 22, 2022) 

  7. Sutton, Katherine. Stratton, Natalie. Pytcyk, Jennifer. Kolla, Nathan. Cantor, James. National Library of Medicine. Patient Characteristics by Type of Hypersexuality Referral: A Quantitative Chart Review of 115 Consecutive Male Cases. September 2, 2014. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25032736/ (Accessed April 22, 2022) 

  8. Indiana University. Nearly 1 in 3 young men in the US report having no sex, study finds. June 15, 2020. https://news.iu.edu/stories/2020/06/iub/releases/15-sexual-inactivity-young-men-united-states-no-sex-debby-herbenick.html (Accessed April 22, 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.