FAQ

Is Porn Addiction Real? What can I do if I feel like I watch too much porn?

FAQ

Is Porn Addiction Real? What can I do if I feel like I watch too much porn?

A lot of people are interested in porn! Lots of them watch porn as part of happy and healthy lives. Some people are afraid of getting addicted to porn. There’s not enough research to say whether porn addiction is real. But, watching so much porn that it hurts your life or makes you distressed can be a scary and real problem.

What do people mean when they talk about porn addiction?

When doctors think of addiction, they usually think of substances like alcohol or drugs. Using these substances regularly can cause a physical dependency that makes stopping very difficult. Treatment for addiction usually means physically depending less on that substance.

Because of this, most doctors don’t call watching too much porn an addiction. They look at it as a compulsion instead. A compulsion is when someone feels a strong need to do something, and feels very distressed if they stop. Stopping a compulsion won’t make someone sick the way quitting an addictive substance might, but it’s also very difficult! Compulsions are usually treated by a therapist or other mental health practitioner, instead of a doctor.

To make things even more complicated, people can experience addiction and compulsion at the same time, and they can feel really similar to the person experiencing them. So, there’s not always a clear line between the two! Sometimes, people talk about “dependency” as a way of talking about both compulsions and addictions at the same time. People can be either physically or emotionally dependent on something.

Whatever you call it, porn can hurt some people’s lives. But, it can also be a healthy part of some peoples’ sex lives! It depends on the person and their relationship with porn.

Am I watching too much porn?

Watching lots of porn is completely okay when it isn’t making you feel distressed or taking up too much time. In fact, masturbating is great for your health! There’s no right amount of watching porn or masturbating. Some people like masturbating more than others.

Watching porn can be a problem if you feel like you don’t have control over when you watch it, or what kind of porn you watch. It can also be a problem if it gets in the way of your daily life. 

Porn might be a problem if you…

  • Can’t stop thinking about porn, even when you don’t want to think about it
  • Skip school or work to watch porn
  • Cancel plans to watch porn
  • Turn to porn after stressful situations, and feel like you can’t handle stress without porn
  • Feel distressed by the porn you’re watching, but aren’t able to turn it off
  • Feel like something bad might happen if you stop watching porn

A healthy amount of porn depends on the person and how they balance their life. “Too much” can mean different things to different people. When it comes to porn, only you get to decide what the right amount to watch is for you! 

Where can I get help for porn addiction or dependency?

You can do a few things to help if porn is getting in the way of important things, or if you feel like you can’t stop watching porn that upsets you. Some options are:

  • Talk about it with someone you trust and feel comfortable with
  • Talk to a counsellor or join a support group.
  • Call Kids Help Phone: 514-600-1002
  • Get low-cost therapy at places like the Montreal Therapy Centre
  • Read about more options below!

What will happen if I get therapy?

Therapy can help you understand and manage your feelings. Many people deal with different kinds of addiction and compulsion. You’re not alone and therapy is a place to talk without shame. No one will judge you.

At the same time, many therapists aren’t trained to treat porn addiction or dependency. But you can find someone with the right experience. It might take a few tries to find a therapist you work well with.

What you say to a therapist is private. They aren’t allowed to tell anyone except in rare and important cases. They’ll need to tell someone if someone under 18 is being sexually abused. They’ll also need to say something if you want to hurt yourself or someone else. You can ask them about these and other cases where they might need to tell someone.

What else should I know about porn?

Remember that porn doesn’t show how most people have sex in real life. People barely ever look or act the way they do in porn. It’s not ok to expect people to do things they’re not excited about because it’s in porn.

People under 18 can’t legally watch porn in Canada. It’s also against the law to own, watch, or share porn with people under 18 years old in it. Either of these have some legal risks.

Porn can hurt some people’s relationships if they don’t see it the same way as their partners. Compulsively watching porn sometimes makes sex with partners harder.

At the same time, most adults have watched porn in their life. Having porn addiction or compulsion is rare! It’s more common for people to have positive or even neutral relationships with porn. If watching porn makes you feel good, and you feel like you’re in control of when you watch it and what you watch, nobody else has the right to make you feel bad or ashamed about it! Everyone has the right to decide what’s right for them, and the right to privacy about that decision.

More info

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