September 5, 2023

How to Stop Watching Porn

It’s no secret that porn use is rampant and prevalent. Pornhob alone states that it has over 150 million daily active visitors, which averages to 3.2 billion views per month (1). Additional research shows that 54% of teenagers have seen porn by the time they reach age 13, and 73% of teenagers ages 13 to 17 watch porn regularly (2).

With so many people accessing sexually-explicit content via their smartphones, it’s easier than ever to access porn. That alone can make it that much more addictive. If you want to stop porn, it takes effort and intention. Here’s how to do it.

Identify Your Reason

The first step in changing a habit is identifying why you want to change that habit. Why is giving up on porn important to you? How do you anticipate this change affecting your life, relationships, or overall well-being?

People stop watching porn for many reasons. The following may resonate with you:

You want to improve your sex life: Porn can interfere with sex, especially if the porn use is compulsive or secretive. Likewise, many people struggle to enjoy sex with partners if they’re used to masturbating on their own or need porn to become aroused.

You’re having significant relationship problems: Porn may create issues in romantic relationships, particularly if one partner doesn’t like the habit. It can also cause problems by creating unrealistic expectations about your sex life. Porn can blur fantasy from reality, and that can be problematic in relationships. 

You want to better enjoy your life: Compulsive porn can be its own escape, just like drugs, alcohol, or food. Over time, addictions often worsen progressively, and you may feel like you need porn to experience happiness or fulfillment.

You want to feel less shame: Some people feel ashamed watching porn. They don’t like the habit and may try hiding it from others. The secret perpetuates cycles of shame. Stopping can reduce this impact and help you develop better self-esteem. 

You want to improve your mental health: Research shows a link between excessive pornography use and symptoms of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and loneliness (3). Quitting porn may improve these symptoms.

You want to feel more aligned with your values or ethics: It’s impossible to guarantee that any pornographic content is ethical, consensual, or even legal. The porn industry is profit-driven, and sex trafficking and sexual abuse occur as a result of that. This reality can be extremely upsetting, and abstaining from porn can be a step toward doing your part to better society.

Define Your Recovery

Some people take the cold turkey method to stop watching porn. This is an abstinence-based approach. Recovery is defined by not watching at all. Even though this method may sound simple in theory, it can be challenging if someone struggles with compulsive use. 

Other people may try a harm-reduction approach or even a tapering plan. Harm reduction refers to trying to use a certain substance or behavior in moderation. For example, someone might decide to only watch porn once a week. Or, they might commit to only viewing a specific type or category of porn. The most important consideration for harm reduction is being able to commit to the specified boundaries. Failing to do so often causes more distress, shame, and addictive behavior.

Tapering may include creating a plan to systematically watch less porn over time. Rather than stopping cold turkey, you might cut back on your use over several days or weeks. This can make the emotional withdrawal less intense. However, it’s certainly possible to relapse with this strategy. 

Other people simply decide to try an extended abstinence break. For example, they might decide to stop watching porn for 30 or 60 days just to see how it feels. If they struggle with the challenge, that might speak to them having more of a problem than they realized. Likewise, if they found the challenge meaningful and helpful, they might decide to continue with their abstinence. 

Plan for Triggers

People with compulsive or addictive tendencies experience triggers to use their behavior of choice. When it comes to porn, anything can be a trigger, so it’s important to audit your usual behavioral patterns. When are you most likely to engage in porn? What emotions are you experiencing at that time? Where are you, and what were you doing just before?

Some of the most common triggers include:

  • Loneliness 
  • Depression or sadness
  • Anger
  • Relationship problems
  • Being under the influence
  • Stress
  • Boredom 

It’s impossible to eradicate these triggers completely. However, it’s important to be mindful of their impact and consider how you can manage them appropriately. The more you access healthier coping skills, the less likely you are to turn to porn when you feel triggered.

Identify Your Coping Skills

You will need to consider which alternatives you will turn to when tempted to use porn. It may be beneficial to write some of these coping skills down. Keep in mind that some skills may be more effective at certain times than others.

Some helpful coping skills include:

  • Meditation and mindfulness
  • Physical activity
  • Journaling or other forms of creative expression
  • Engaging in a meaningful hobby
  • Reaching out for social support
  • Quick distractions (i.e. taking a shower, taking a brief nap)
  • Practicing gratitude 

Coping skills may not eliminate the trigger or uncomfortable feelings. However, they can soften the intensity. Over time, you will build a healthier routine for yourself, leaving you less susceptible to engaging in porn when you feel vulnerable.

Consider Attending a Local Support Group or Online Community

Holding yourself accountable can be a crucial piece of the recovery process. Consider sharing your goal with someone you trust, such as a friend, partner, or family member. If you don’t feel comfortable telling anyone in your personal life about your situation, seek a support group where you can share your feelings openly. 

There are numerous support groups available to people seeking to recover from porn or sex addiction. 12-step programs are free and welcome to anyone seeking recovery.

Porn Addicts Anonymous (PAA): PAA is intended for people who identify as struggling with a porn addiction. Attending meetings, working with a sponsor, and going through the 12 steps are aimed at helping people overcome their addiction. 

Sex Addictions Anonymous (SAA): SAA is intended for people who wish to overcome their addictive sexual behavior. This can include porn consumption and other behaviors that cause sexual conflict, feelings of hopelessness, or secretive patterns.

Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA): SLAA is intended for people who wish to overcome their patterns of sex and love addiction. This can include porn consumption, difficulties with boundaries, compulsive sex, or unhealthy relationship dynamics.

It’s also important to note that many local community health organizations and therapists offer support groups. Groups may be open (welcome to anyone at any time) or closed (open to select members to join at certain times). The content may be more process-oriented, where group members bring in discussion material, or they may follow a specific curriculum. 

Many groups and communities are also held online. For example, the r/nofap community on Reddit is a community support group for people wishing to give up porn and masturbation. r/pornaddiction provides a forum to discuss porn addiction and the recovery process. r/pornfree is designed to support people of all ages to overcome their porn addiction. r/decidingtobebetter is for anyone seeking overall self-improvement and increased awareness. There are also dedicated Facebook groups for porn and sex addiction. 

Block and Limit Your Access

Modern technology makes it so easy to access porn. This quick convenience poses significant challenges for people wanting to cut back or quit their use. The following strategies may help you achieve your goal:

  • Turn on website blockers or parental control software
  • Unsubscribe from any porn channels
  • Set up safe browsing mode or educational filters 
  • Block proxy and VPN sites (to bypass filters)
  • Enable safe search settings on search engines
  • Consider briefly swapping a smartphone for a dumbphone
  • Set firm technology limits

These strategies act as protective barriers that can make it harder to access porn. Of course, if you’re triggered and heightened in the moment, it’s easy to still find sexually explicit content. But adding a step or two allows you to pause, which may support you in moving through a difficult moment.

Seek Therapy 

If you’re struggling with porn addiction, it may be beneficial to seek individual professional support. A certified sex addiction therapist (CSAT) has expertise in treating compulsive sexual behaviors, including porn consumption. They also can treat the underlying variables, such as trauma, impacting sexual problems. 

Therapy also offers a safe and non-judgmental environment to process your emotions and share your innermost thoughts. Many people find that simply having this support helps them feel significantly less shame. It can also instill a sense of hope for the future.

Therapy may be either short-term or long-term, depending on your specific symptoms, motivation for treatment, and overall progress. It’s important to find a therapist that you feel comfortable with- sometimes, this requires a trial-and-error process, as therapy is a relationship, and it needs to feel secure. 

If porn is affecting your relationship, you may want to consider attending couples therapy with your partner. This type of therapy focuses exclusively on strengthening the quality of your relationship. It’s not about assigning blame or taking sides. A qualified therapist can help you both navigate stressors in the relationship and come together to collaborate on viable solutions.

Remember That Relapse Can Be Part of Recovery 

It’s often said that progress isn’t linear, and this can be especially true when overcoming an addiction. While some people can maintain permanent abstinence right away, the reality is that most recovery is far more nuanced. 

Slips and lapses are often part of the process, and struggling does not inherently mean you are broken or that the treatment isn’t working. The most important part of relapse is cultivating insight. Did you discover a new trigger? Did you struggle with a particular emotion or thought? How could you better prepare for this situation in the future? 

Try to avoid falling into an all-or-nothing mentality. Life can be messy, and it’s normal to have difficulties along the way. Plan ahead for stress, surround yourself with positive support, and aim to hold yourself accountable if you find yourself having a hard time. 

Final Thoughts

Deciding to stop porn can be a bold and important choice for your emotional well-being. Many people who quit porn report feeling more confident, happy, and secure in their relationships. 

If you’re on the fence about quitting porn, it may be beneficial to give yourself a 1-month trial. This time offers perspective into your relationship with porn and how it feels to abstain from using it. 

Sources

  1. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-report-reveals-truths-about-how-teens-engage-with-pornography-301717607.html 
  2. https://enough.org/stats_adults_online_porn
  3. https://fightthenewdrug.org/10-reasons-why-porn-is-unhealthy-for-consumers-and-society/ 
MedCircle Is Trusted By Millions Of Happy Members & Doctors Alike

1.5M+

Subscribers

153M+

Video Views

4.8

Apple App Store

4.7

Google Play Store

Disclaimer: This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your healthcare provider. This is only a brief summary of general information. It does NOT include all information about conditions, illnesses, injuries, tests, procedures, treatments, therapies, discharge instructions or lifestyle choices that may apply to you. You must talk with your health care provider for complete information about your health and treatment options. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to accept your health care provider’s advice, instructions or recommendations. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to provide advice that is right for you.

You must talk with your health care provider for complete information about your health and treatment options. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to accept your health care provider’s advice, instructions or recommendations. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to provide advice that is right for you.

You May Also Like…

Join Our Newsletter!

Stay up to date on latest article, free
resources, workshop invites, and more!