Top tips to help you break free from the grip of watching pornography.
How To Stop Watching Porn: 9 Effective Ways to Stop a Porn Addiction

Pornography has long been known as a tantalizing, erotic, and convenient way to explore our sexuality – both with ourselves and with a partner.

Like any indulgence, too much can leave us feeling guilty, dissatisfied, and possibly even numb.

Porn addiction is a compulsive behavior that can interfere with our lives in many ways. It may cause us to pull away from our relationships, fall short in our work performance, and experience low self-esteem.

Fortunately, it's possible to break free from pornography addiction and regain control of your life.

Read on as we explore some of the top 9 expert-recommended tips for overcoming porn addiction to help you begin your journey toward creating a healthier relationship with sexuality.

Note: Read the whole article or scroll down to the KEY TAKEAWAYS section at the end of this article for a short summary.

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What is Porn Addiction

Once you snap out of the trance, you realize that you may no longer enjoy porn but mindlessly consume it out of pure habit or compulsion.

Porn addiction, also known as a compulsive pornography use disorder, describes the unhealthy pattern of watching porn.

Like gambling or other forms of internet addiction, porn addiction can cause many negative consequences, including anxiety, depression, erectile dysfunction, etc.

It's like falling into a deep, dark hole you can't climb out of. Once you snap out of the trance, you realize that you may no longer enjoy porn but mindlessly consume it out of pure habit or compulsion.

Common signs of porn addiction:

  • Intrusive thoughts about porn
  • Increased use and tolerance of porn
  • Feelings of shame and guilt
  • Difficulty stopping or limiting the use of porn
  • Risky consumption (i.e. using work computers, paying for pornsubscriptions, etc.)
  • Withdrawal symptoms (i.e. anxiety, depression, irritability, etc.)
  • Neglecting responsibilities, social activities, or hobbies to use porn
  • Sexual dissatisfaction in relationships
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How to Stop Watching Porn

Taking responsibility for our actions is an important first step to changing our behavior.

Though occasional porn consumption is normal behavior, an obsession can be a sign of addiction.

Without gaining control of this addiction, you risk impacting your mental health, relationships, school or work performance.

Here are 9 effective ways to stop watching porn:

1. Acknowledge the Problem

Taking responsibility for our actions is an important first step to changing our behavior. When we acknowledge the problem, such as porn addiction, we become aware of its consequences on our life.

This awareness builds the foundation for lasting change since we, as individuals, are more likely to invest our time and energy into the recovery process, no matter what it takes.

This 2013 study on hypersexual disorders highlights the importance of acknowledgment as a primary step to help individuals gain control of a problem and break the cycle of addiction.

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2. Replace Negative Habits With Positive Ones

…minimize the temptation to watch porn and foster positive growth and lead to a more balanced life.

Rather than trying to quit a sexual addiction cold turkey, it's better to have a plan to help us fall back on in difficult times.

A great way to do this is by finding healthy activities or outlets that replace porn addiction.

These positive outlets allow us to redirect our energy and focus on more rewarding and fulfilling behaviors, such as exercising, reading, socializing with friends, or playing an instrument.

Clinical psychologist and sexual addiction expert Dr. David Ley explains that once individuals explore their motivations for watching porn, they may be more willing to seek healthier alternatives to fulfill those needs.

It can help minimize the temptation to watch porn and foster positive growth and lead to a more balanced life.

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3. Practice Self-Control and Mindfulness

...self-control techniques are used to improve an individual's willpower and discipline to help resist the temptation to consume porn.

Porn addictions are a type of habit. Any habit takes dedicated time, patience, and intentional work to break.

Certified sex addiction therapist Dr. Alexandra Karehakis emphasizes addressing the underlying emotional problems that may contribute to porn addiction.

She recommends using mindfulness techniques and cultivating self-compassion to improve control and lead to a healthy recovery.

Mindfulness is an excellent way for individuals to learn to observe their urges without judgment or reactivity.

Similarly, self-control techniques are used to improve an individual's willpower and discipline to help resist the temptation to consume porn.

Examples include:

  • Mindful breathing: taking slow, deep breaths and focusing on the sensation of the air moving in and out of your body to promote peace and balance
  • Progressive muscle relaxation: tensing and releasing different muscle groups to bring about relaxation
  • Delayed gratification: delaying the impulsive need to consume porn to increase self-control
  • Positive self-talk: creating a positive inner dialogue with yourself to keep you focused, on track, and motivated, even when faced with challenges (i.e. "I can do this")
  • Visualization: imagining a calm or positive image in your head when an urge arises to help minimize stress and promote relaxation
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4. Confide in a Trusted Friend

Let's face it, most of us watch porn! Chances are, your closest friends won't pass judgment on you when you let them in.

The power of accountability can be instrumental in breaking a habit.

Confiding in a trusted friend can be a challenging yet beneficial step toward recovery.

The best part is that building a community, even if it's just you and one other person, can free you from the isolating hold porn addiction can have on us.

Accountability diminishes shame and secrecy and in place giving you more confidence, self-assurance, and motivation to push forward in your commitments.

Let's face it, most of us watch porn! Chances are, your closest friends won't pass judgment on you when you let them in.

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5. Install Internet Filters

Internet filters prevent access to any or all pornography content.

Installing an internet filter on your computer is another excellent way to keep you from indulging in your porn habit.

This added layer of protection can be beneficial if you struggle with self-control or are in the very early stages of recovery.

Internet filters prevent access to any or all pornography content. It's up to you to limit your time watching porn or stop watching porn altogether with these filters.

If you're struggling with the temptation of canceling the filter and need to be held accountable, you can also enlist a close friend to help you install and manage them.

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6. Avoid Triggers and Maintain progress

The only way we can be successful in avoiding triggers is by being able to identify them ahead of time.

When it comes to pornography addiction, one of the most complicated challenges is avoiding triggers.

Triggers any person, place, or thing that may provoke an urge to engage in an addictive behavior.

The only way we can be successful in avoiding triggers is by being able to identify them ahead of time.

Common triggers include:

  • Stress
  • Boredom or loneliness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Relationship issues
  • Accessibility

Once you can identify the triggers that may provoke the compulsive use of porn, staying on track to successful recovery becomes much more manageable.

It's helpful to incorporate other tips during stress or boredom, such as engaging in an alternative healthy habit or practicing one of our mindfulness techniques listed above.

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7. Forgive Setbacks and Practice Self-Compassion

focus on long-term progress rather than short-term failures.

Addiction is complex. It can involve multiple setbacks or relapses along the way. Rather than dwelling on the failure, it's important to forgive yourself and find compassion in yourself to move past the mistake.

A licensed psychologist and author Dr. Doug Weiss advises individuals struggling with internet pornography addiction to be honest with themselves and their loved ones and find a support group or accountability partner, establish healthy coping mechanisms, and focus on long-term progress rather than short-term failures.

8. Cultivate Healthy Relationships and Sexual Practices

Individuals with porn addiction often use pornographic material in the place of real intimacy, causing them to fall short in their romantic situations.

The interesting thing about self-pleasure is that it is susceptible to desensitization. In other words, the more you give yourself, the more you'll need in the future to achieve the same experience.

It can be a slippery slope when it comes to your sex life.

This study suggests that excessive porn use may be linked to erectile difficulties, inability to reach orgasm, and a lack of sexual arousal or desire.

Apart from the behavioral issues that porn addiction causes, it can also involve an emotional disconnection from an otherwise healthy relationship.

Individuals with porn addiction often use pornographic material in the place of real intimacy, causing them to fall short in their romantic situations.

Finding ways to connect with our partner authentically and satisfyingly allows us to let go of the hold that porn has on us and focus on these relationships.

Eventually, this can help build trust, confidence, emotional intelligence, and freedom from porn addiction.

9. Seek Professional Help

Professional guidance can take many forms, including counseling, therapy, coaching, or addiction treatment programs.

Mental health professionals are trained to guide individuals struggling to overcome addiction. Offering expertise in a safe and supportive environment, these professionals tailor their guidance to help you identify triggers, develop coping strategies, and build confidence in your ability to quit porn.

Professional guidance can take many forms, including counseling, therapy, coaching, or addiction treatment programs.

Some professional organizations, such as the American Association for Sexuality Educators (AASECT) or the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP), have directories of certified professionals specializing in treating porn addiction and other related issues.

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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Porn addiction is a compulsive behavior that can impact various aspects of our lives
  • Signs of addiction include intrusive thoughts about pornography, increased tolerance, feelings of shame or guilt, and sexual or relationship dissatisfaction
  • These 9 tips are proven to help you stop watching porn, cultivate a healthier relationship with your sexuality, and take back control of your life
  • If you continue to struggle, consider reaching out to a mental health professional for guidance and support
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Medical Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to give medical advice or substitute for the medical advice of a physician.

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