The word “addicted” gets thrown around a lot, but should not be confused with actual physical addiction. There are those that say they are “addicted” to chocolate, wine, Game of Thrones, etc. What they actually mean is they really really like chocolate/wine/Game of Thrones (all excellent choices).

If you’ve ever had experience with someone who actually was addicted to alcohol, you’ll know the difference. Currently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) classifies porn addiction as a compulsive sexual behaviour disorder (CSBD) which is defined as “a persistent pattern of failure to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses or urges resulting in repetitive sexual behaviour”.

What happens when you watch porn?

Your brain and body are flooded with all sorts of hormones when you open a new incognito tab to watch PornHub.

  • Dopamine – giving you a feeling of pleasure and a sense of craving
  • Norepinephrine – creating focus and alertness
  • Oxytocin and Vasopressin – creating a strong link to the object sexual pleasure
  • Endorphins – creating a wave of pleasure throughout the body
  • Serotonin – after you orgasm, brings a sense of calm and relaxation

If that delicious cocktail of hormones and chemicals weren’t enough, watching porn is habitual, creating psychological connections with the habit and the physiological reward. But true addiction tends to come from a form of avoidance and escaping a painful reality.

“Addiction is normally formed because people are trying to escape from negative feelings or memories of events,” Davies says, adding that the highest risk people are those who have been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “In my practice, clients suffering from any form of addiction are normally trying to escape things like traumatic memories, loss, breakups, loneliness, sadness and unhappiness.”

The stages of porn addiction

Stage one: You’ve watched porn before, but it doesn’t have any bearing on your life.

Stage two: You’re starting to become more curious about watching pornography, but again it doesn’t affect your everyday life.

Stage three: You begin to feel compelled to watch porn, and start viewing ‘harder’ types of it.

Stage four: You expose yourself to more extreme forms of pornography. Fantasies begin to affect everyday life.

Stage five: You’ve tried to stop watching porn, but you feel like you can’t. The withdrawal symptoms affect your everyday life.

Stage six: Porn dominates your life, and has a direct impact on your personal relationships and behaviour.

Stage seven: You no longer get the same ‘hit’ from normal pornography, so watch extreme or illegal forms regularly.

So, are you addicted to porn?

The physical effects of porn addiction can start to set in long before you notice them becoming a problem. Some guys say they need to watch porn and masturbate in order to get to sleep or to keep from having sore balls.

With enough time it’s possible to train your brain to see porn as the only way to alleviate these problems, in much the same way you could develop a dependence on sleeping pills. In time your brain will fail to recognise your natural arousal cues.

And that could lead to erectile dysfunction.

Copyright: staras / 123RF Stock Photo

That got your attention.

Stopping porn addiction

If you think you might have a problem with porn addiction, then getting in touch with a professional to talk to could be a good idea. CBT, counselling, or hypnotherapy are all great places to start, but the first step is admitting you have a problem. So you’re doing great so far!

But if the thought of quitting cold turkey makes you want to cry, there’s another option.

When the addiction rears its ugly head, try Davies’ mindfulness exercise: the Blast Technique.

The Blast Technique

Sit back in a comfortable chair with your arms and legs uncrossed, take a few moments to relax with your thoughts, feelings, emotions and cravings before you begin. It sounds a bit nuts, but I’ve used this technique before and it’s weird, but it works.

  • Assess and write down the intensity level of the craving from zero to 10, zero being no craving and 10 being the most you can imagine.
  • Tap on your forehead above each eyebrow alternately 10 times each counting out loud (optional).
  • Tap on both cheekbones alternately 10 times each counting out loud (optional).
  • Tap on the front of your chin either side 10 times each counting out loud (optional).
  • Tap on your collar bones (opposite hand to collarbone side) alternately 10 times each counting out loud (optional).
  • Keeping your head still, look to your left, then right, three times each side.
  • Take a diaphragmatic breath and slowly, mentally tell yourself “I’m okay”.
  • Assess and write down the intensity level of the craving between zero and ten.
  • Repeat the process until you have the result you require.

Here to help

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