Healthy Alternatives to Porn

May 27, 2024

Men are more likely to look at porn. In a 2022 study from the Institute for Family Studies, 44% of men admitted to viewing porn compared to 11% of women. There’s still a stigma associated with women who enjoy adult entertainment. 

There are various reasons as to why people watch porn. Most do it to explore their sexuality, especially if they’re single. Others who are in a long-term relationship use pornography to spice up their sex life. 

The overlying majority of people claim it feels good to look at porn. They enjoy being in a state of sexual pleasure, even if it’s taboo. That’s not to say there are risks associated with watching porn. The risks aren’t as obvious as with drinking, gambling, or taking drugs. 

There are warning signs that suggest porn develops into a problem. The individual might rely on it to escape from everyday life. The addiction develops when that person isn’t satisfied with their situation. They rely on the feelings of pleasure as a means of escape. 

Pornography quickly becomes a problem when it damages careers, relationships, and mental health. It increases the problems in that person’s life. 

The person’s sex life also becomes less satisfying. They realize their pornography use is out of control. The temptation can also lead them to engage in risky behaviors, such as viewing pornography at work or having an affair. 

Signs of porn addiction

There’s no official diagnosis for porn addiction. It’s a controversial topic since most experts don’t believe that pornography is a problem. Still, it has the potential to develop into an addiction. As a result, the most common signs of porn addiction include:

  • Rely on pornography to escape feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, or loneliness

  • Desire to quit pornography but fail to do so

  • Ignore work, school, and other responsibilities to watch porn

  • Feel anger or frustration after quitting porn

  • Spend massive amounts of money on adult entertainment, possibly at the expense of bills or family responsibilities

  • Increased interest in extreme, violent, or vulgar porn

Porn addiction is more than just an obsession. It changes your brain chemistry. The individual feels compelled to continue watching despite the negative consequences and potential fallout. 

Research has shown that addiction contributes to the brain’s reward system. Whenever you engage with porn, you’ll receive a dopamine effect, causing those feelings of pleasure to come back. 

This overly stimulating behavior makes you rely on dopamine even as your body produces less over time. The feelings you get are rewarding. It’s the pornography itself that creates the dopamine effect, leading to an addiction. 

How to Substitute Pornography

Quitting cold turkey is the best way to end your porn addiction. You can substitute porn with another activity that makes you feel good. Here are some things you can do instead:

  • Cook: Learn a new recipe or take a cooking class to occupy yourself. 

  • Exercise: Go for a walk, join an aerobics class, or go to the gym. This is a good way to let off steam and try something new. 

  • Read: Books offer an escape from everyday life. Read a fiction book or a self-help book to start your journey. 

  • Talk to someone: Talk to a trusted confidant or friend about your pornography addiction. Or, you can join a support group such as Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA). 

  • Other activities: Try something new that gives you dopamine. You may want to take up knitting or volunteer in your community. 

You can also remove the habit from your home. Unfortunately, technology has become part of our lives. You can’t throw away your phone. Instead, you can use a mobile app that blocks access to adult entertainment and pornographic content. 

You can also break the loop that caused the habit in the first place. For example, if you feel lonely or depressed, you might have the urge to watch pornography. Replace it with something joyous, like arts and crafts, dance class, sports, or a relaxing bath. Be kind and gentle with yourself, and keep building upon this new habit. 

Porn Alternatives

A recent study found that 11% of men identify as porn addicts. It’s unclear how many women identify as porn addicts. This is probably because of the shame, guilt, and stigma associated with women who look at pornography. Regardless, 74% of men consume porn compared to 58% of women. 

There are healthier alternatives to porn consumption. The best thing is that none of them will have control over your life. Alternatives that work include: 

  • Prayer or meditation 

  • Become present with your emotions and write them down 

  • Help a friend or family member with something 

  • Listen to a podcast while making dinner or taking a walk 

  • Go to the park or museum 

  • Start a new hobby or join a club 

More importantly, be compassionate and kind to yourself. Don’t be ashamed. What you're going through isn’t easy. It’s a good sign that you desire to quit your porn addiction.

Treatment for Porn Addiction

There’s no specific treatment for porn addiction. Those wanting therapy may benefit from addressing their mental health disorders, relationship problems, and sexual shame. 

The most common treatments involve lifestyle changes, medication, psychotherapy, and relationship counseling. Working with a therapist can help you get to the bottom of your underlying problems. 

Evidence-based strategies from Birches Health can give you more control over your porn use. It’ll also improve your relationships. Get started with a free assessment today. 

Resources:

How Prevalent Is Pornography?

Why People Use Porn

Porn addiction: Signs, causes, and treatment

When Is Porn Use a Problem?

Self-reported addiction to pornography in a nationally representative sample: The roles of use habits, religiousness, and moral incongruence

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