Porn Addiction Helplines

concerned white man talks on the phone

Pornography addiction, a type of behavioral addiction, resembles substance addiction in that it is associated with similar chemical changes in the brain.1,2 Within the last few decades, estimates have placed world pornography revenues near the $100 billion mark, so it may come as little surprise that porn addiction has become a widespread problem.2

Biologically speaking, when you watch pornography compulsively and chronically, dopamine is frequently released into your brain’s reward system. This dopamine stimulation reinforces the experience, making you want to do it again and again.3 The compulsive use of porn often results in negative, painful consequences and may require professional help to overcome.

More About Behavioral Health

Doctor talks seriously with female patient Behavioral health is an umbrella term that refers to your overall wellbeing and how it is impacted by your behaviors. While behavioral health and mental health tend to overlap, and many organizations substitute one term for the other, distinct differences do exist between the two. Read More

A primary feature of a behavioral addiction is the inability to resist the impulse or temptation to do something that is harmful to yourself or someone else.1 Resembling some forms of psychoactive substance use, there are several behaviors capable of producing a short-term reward that, in turn, reinforces a compulsive continuation of the behavior in question coupled with diminished control over the behavior. Excessive pornography viewing is one such behavior. Compounding the issue is a noticeable spike in in the availability of sexually explicit content on the internet, which positively correlates with an increase in compulsive porn use.4

The Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) initially proposed a new diagnosis of Hypersexual Disorder, which included criteria for compulsive pornography use.2 Pathological patterns of compulsive porn use behavior and its associated symptoms mimic those seen with substance use disorder and drug addiction; proponents of the diagnostic category have pointed to these similarities to promote its inclusion in the DSM.

Common negative signs, symptoms, and associated issues seen in connection with porn addiction include:4,5,6

  • Choosing porn use over friends, family, and career.
  • Distorted thinking due to persistent sexual thoughts and romantic fantasies instigated by porn use.
  • Repeated failed attempts to stop using pornography.
  • Interference with other aspects of a person’s life such as job, family, or relationships.
  • Significant periods of time (hours or days) lost to finding and viewing porn.
  • Violation of personal values.
  • Feelings of despair and isolation.
  • Decreased interest in pursuing activities necessary for survival.
  • Lying or covering up the extent of use.
  • Using drugs or alcohol in conjunction with porn.
  • Escalation to using the internet for casual sexual hookups.
  • Dysregulation of sexual arousal and desire.
  • Sexual impulsivity or compulsivity.
  • Debt from spending money on porn.
  • Sexual addiction.

Many porn users view it as pure fantasy and do not see it as harmful, and research shows that most college-age men view pornography as an acceptable form of sexuality.7 Porn users may also engage in other forms of non-intimate, sexual behavioral including sexting, casual or anonymous sex, and voyeurism.

Excessive porn use can cause a tendency to withdraw from relationships, and it has been correlated with increasing rates of depression.

One study shows that a key factor in porn use is couple relationship quality, with notable differences in use for men and women: women typically view porn with a partner, while men usually view porn alone.8 Men are more likely than women to use pornography, and male porn use is often associated with disinterest in physical intimacy or unhealthy intimacy patterns. Female adolescent porn use is on the rise, with 25% of women aged 18 to 34 reportedly having used it.8 Men experience significantly more negative effects from porn consumption, but for both genders, porn addiction can negatively impact a relationship.9 Excessive porn use can cause a tendency to withdraw from relationships, and it has been correlated with increasing rates of depression.7

According to the American Psychological Association, 9% of porn viewers report being unable to stop.7 If you can’t stop using porn, or if the urge to use cannot be controlled, even if you know your behavior is causing harm, you might be addicted.8 If so, addiction helplines can help you find the right treatment options for your behavioral addiction.8,9

How Does a Helpline Help?

Helpline call center man talks on headset

Addiction helplines are confidential, free, usually open 24/7/365, and are available to individuals and family members struggling with substance use or addiction. Some helplines specifically help people with porn addictions, are generally offered in English and Spanish, and provide referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also request free pamphlets, publications, and other information.9

Porn addiction can be a sensitive topic, and the shame associated with porn addiction may affect your willingness to get help.

Reputable addiction helplines are answered by support specialists who can assist you in finding the right type of treatment for your specific issue. Options include community-based support, mental health resources, inpatient or outpatient treatment, and other rehab programs.8,9 Helpline support specialists may gather basic demographic information in order to find appropriate treatment in your geographic area.8

Addiction helplines also provide information about each treatment center, such as clinical therapies offered, price, and admission criteria. Treatment approaches may be tailored to address your addictive patterns and your medical, or psychosocial problems, if needed.7 Behavioral addictions and substance use disorders often respond positively to the same treatments, both psychosocial and pharmacological.1

Porn addiction can be a sensitive topic, and the shame associated with porn addiction may affect your willingness to get help. Often, people are reluctant to deal with the negative consequences and social stigma associated with porn addiction.4 This is understandable, but some studies suggest that pornography and other sexual addictions can be treated with the same objective biological basis as food addictions, rather than with the moral and value-laden terminology that often surrounds sexuality.2  Helplines provide a free, confidential, and non-judgmental service that can serve as an entry point for more substantial forms of treatment for porn addiction.

Porn Addiction and Mental Health Helpline Listings

The following is a list of hotlines that can direct you to appropriate resources for porn addiction, substance abuse, and other behavioral and mental health issues.8,9

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Helpline: 1-800-662-4357

A national hotline that assists in finding appropriate addiction treatment centers, rehabs, and other mental health resources.

NJ Connect: 1-855-652-3737

A regional free, confidential recovery hotline based out of New Jersey that helps people struggling with addiction. Certified alcohol drug counselors and support specialists respond to calls daily from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. EST.

New Jersey Mental Health Cares: 1-866-202-4357

A free regional behavioral health information and referral service based out of New Jersey. Behavioral care specialists connect people to appropriate information and services for a range of issues, including inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, legal help, and housing concerns. Trained care specialists provide phone counseling and support Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.

Addictions Hotline: 1-844-276-2777

A national hotline that provides trained, clinically supervised phone specialists who are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They specialize in helping individuals and families struggling with a range of addictions.

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD): 1-800-622-2255

A national hotline that directs callers to programs throughout the United States to assist with substance use/addiction issues.

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): 1-800-622-4357

A national helpline agency dedicated to the prevention of drug use/addiction. Specialists provide phone support 24/7.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline: 1-800-622-4357

A confidential national phone service providing help to individuals and families facing substance use or addiction issues.

The Alcohol & Drug Addiction Resource Center: 1-800-390-4056

A national hotline providing alcohol rehab referral services, the service includes state and local hotline information and a treatment center facility locator.

Boys Town National Hotline: 1-800-448-3000

A national hotline providing support, resources, and treatment referrals.

National Drug Information Treatment and Referral Hotline: (800) 662-HELP (4357).

24/7 information, support, treatment options, and referrals to local rehab centers for any drug or alcohol problem.

National Youth Crisis Hotline: 1-800-448-4663

Provides 24/7 short-term counseling and referrals to local drug treatment centers, shelters, and counseling services. Responds to youth dealing with pregnancy, molestation, suicide, and child abuse.

Sex Addicts Anonymous: 1-800-477-8191

A 24-hour hotline providing SAA meeting information and other information on 12-step support for sex addiction.

If you or someone you love is struggling with porn addiction, call a hotline today for help. It’s a first step in the right direction.

Sources

  1. Grant, J., Potenza, M., Weinstein, A. & Gorelick, D. (2010). Introduction to behavioral addictions. American Journal of Drug & Alcohol Abuse. 36(5), 233–241.
  2. Hilton, D. & Watts, C. (2011). Pornography: A neuroscience perspective. Surgery Neurology International. 2,
  3. Love, T., Laier, C., Brand, M., Hatch, L. & Hajela, R. (2015). Neuroscience of internet pornography addiction: A review and update. Behavioral Sciences. 5(3), 388–433.
  4. Fisher, W. & Barak, A. (2001). Internet pornography: A social psychological perspective on internet sexuality. The Journal of Sex Research. 38(4), 32–323.
  5. International Service Organization of Sex Addicts Anonymous. (2014). Sex Addicts Anonymous (3rd ed.). Houston: ISO.
  6. Kafka, M.P. (2010). Hypersexual disorder: A proposed diagnosis for DSM-5. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 39(2), 377–400.
  7. American Psychological Association. (2017). Is pornography addictive?
  8. Poulsen, F., Busby, D. & Galovan, A. (2012). Pornography use: Who uses it and how is it associated with couple outcomes? The Journal of Sexual Research. 50(1), 72–83.
  9. Hald, G. & Malamuth, N. (2008). Self-perceived effects of pornography consumption. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 37, 614–625.
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