Porn addiction occurs when an individual loses control over whether he or she views pornography, the amount of time he or she spends with pornography, and the types of pornography that he or she uses.

Porn addicts typically spend at least 11 or 12 hours per week searching for and looking at pornography—most often digital imagery accessed via their computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone, or some other Internet enabled device. And this 11 or 12 hours per week number is the low end of the spectrum. Many porn addicts devote double or even triple that amount of time to their addiction.

Porn addicts often couple their porn use with compulsive masturbation and other compulsive sexual behaviors, such as webcam sex, sexting, anonymous sex, casual sex, affairs, prostitution, exhibitionism, voyeurism, etc. That said, porn addiction can be a standalone form of sexual addiction.

Common signs that casual porn use has escalated to the level of addiction include:

  • Continued porn use despite consequences and/or promises made to self or others to stop.
  • Escalating amounts of time spent on porn use.
  • Hours, sometimes even days, lost to searching for, viewing, and organizing pornography.
  • Masturbation to the point of abrasions or injury.
  • Viewing progressively more arousing, intense, or bizarre sexual content.
  • Lying about, keeping secrets about, and covering up the nature and extent of porn use.
  • Anger or irritability if asked to stop using porn.
  • Reduced or even nonexistent interest in real world sex and intimacy.
  • PIED (porn-induced erectile dysfunction).
  • Deeply rooted feelings of loneliness, longing, and/or detachment.
  • Drug/alcohol abuse in combination with porn use.
  • Drug/alcohol addiction relapse related to porn use or feelings about porn use.
  • Increased objectification of strangers, viewing them as body parts rather than people.
  • Escalation from non-interactive imagery to interactive sexual encounters.

Sadly, porn addicts are often reluctant to seek help because they don’t view their solo sexual behaviors as an underlying source of their unhappiness, or because they’re too ashamed of these behaviors to talk about them, even in therapy. And when they do seek assistance, they tend to seek help with their addiction’s related symptoms—depression, loneliness, and relationship troubles—rather than the porn problem. Many attend therapy for extended periods without ever discussing (or even being asked about) pornography. As a result, their core problem can stay underground and untreated for years or even decades.