Pornography Addiction: Causes and Consequences

Pornography use has become popular in recent decades. For most it's merely entertainment; however, in some people it can generate a marked dependency.
Pornography Addiction: Causes and Consequences
Montse Armero

Written and verified by the psychologist Montse Armero.

Last update: 26 May, 2022

Pornography addiction can cause physical, mental, psychological, and social problems. In fact, these are the same or very similar to those caused by dependence on the consumption of drugs.

Nowadays, anyone with an internet connection can consume new pornographic material daily. After all, the modern creation of this material is enormous. In fact, the prevalence of people addicted to porn has increased very significantly in the last twenty years.

This situation worries experts, given that children are especially vulnerable to the effects of addiction.

When can it be considered an addiction?

One of the most frequent characteristics of addicts is a denial of the problem or downplaying it. However, to detect the problem as early as possible, it’s important to analyze whether the person has changed in one or more of the following aspects:

  • The person spends more and more time viewing pornographic content.
  • Also, they neglect other important areas of their life such as work or social.
  • Watching porn becomes their emotion regulator. Thus, it serves to cheer them up when they’re sad, to distract them when they’re bored. Also, it may even be a reinforcer to celebrate when something goes right.
  • The person has emotional lability or sudden mood swings attributable to their addiction.
  • Also, they may end up committing legal offenses related to pornography.
  • Finally, they lie or are ashamed of their sexual behavior.
Man on laptop with roots keeping him on the ground, porn addiction.

What causes pornography addiction?

According to an article published in 2017 in the journal Drugs and Addictive Behavior, many factors can contribute to this type of addiction. Overall, the most significant of these include the following:

  • Hormonal changes
  • Hereditary influence
  • Sexual abuse
  • Physical and verbal abuse
  • Lack of affection
  • Curiosity
  • Seeing images with high sexual content at an early age
  • Failures, negative thoughts, and feelings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Bullying
  • Loneliness
  • Bad example from parents or close relatives or friends

Also, read: 6 Signs of Alcohol Addiction You Shouldn’t Ignore

Consequences of porn addiction

Typically, people addicted to porn often spend hours viewing pornographic material or researching new sources from which to obtain it. Therefore, dependency often causes other secondary problems such as the following:

Social isolation

Next, just as other addictions have a more social character — nicotine, cannabis, coffee, or alcohol — the person addicted to porn tends to watch it alone and in secret. Therefore, they isolate themselves from their environment on numerous occasions.

Changes in mood

Also, porn addiction often leads to significant changes in mood. Overall, these include the following:

  • Obsessive-compulsive behaviors
  • Poor anger control
  • Anxiety
  • Severe depression
A man with his face in his hands, feeling depression due to a porn addiction.

Excessive masturbation

Also, excessive masturbation can cause other disorders in the person. Overall, these include the following:

  • Weak erections
  • Sexual impotence
  • Sterility
  • Premature ejaculation
  • Prostatitis or urethritis
  • Neurological, sleep, and digestive disorders

Brain changes

As in other types of addictions, the brain’s reward system is overstimulated by excess dopamine. In fact, to continue experiencing the well-being and pleasure that this substance produces, the person needs to consume more and more pornography. Unfortunately, this implies more time, greater dependency, and greater isolation.

Sexual dissatisfaction

Additionally, pornography addiction can lead the addict to believe that their sexual relationships are not intense, frequent, or satisfying enough. Since the examples they watch are fictitious, frustration can be one of the most persistent symptoms.

Relationship problems

Also, if the person has a partner, porn addiction can be a major source of conflict. In fact, this may be a reason for separation or divorce.

Strategies to prevent porn addiction

In the case of children, adults can take actions that prevent possible addiction. Overall, the steps to take can include the following:

  • Install anti-pornography programs on all computers and mobile devices in the house.
  • Also, prevent minors from accessing the Internet in private spaces.
  • Promote quality sexual education at home according to the child’s age.
  • Also, participate in recreational or sports activities as a family.
  • Promote assertive communication.
  • Promote social activities with other children or adolescents.
  • Finally, if you notice an addiction, seek professional help.

In the case of adults, as with any other emotional difficulty that affects everyday life, the most advisable thing is to help them recognize their problem. Thus, it’s easier if they go on their own to a professional specialized in sexual addictions.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.