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15 Signs of Porn Addiction Withdrawal


Introduction

So, you have finally taken that big step, the much-needed break from a habit that’s been keeping you company deep into your daily life. Well, Kudos on recognizing the hold that pornography can have on your life and taking the first step to breaking through! 

But wait? Has it started to feel wrong? Are you not quite feeling like the triumphant hero you thought you would on giving up an addictive behavior?

Well, don’t worry; it is natural to feel this way!

Quitting porn cold turkey can throw you for a loop, leaving you wondering if this is some sort of withdrawal or maybe something entirely different. The understanding of porn addiction, sex addiction, and the withdrawal symptoms that tag along is a bit of a rollercoaster. 

Well, fret not; let’s break it down for you and help you get out of this feeling. Let’s talk about the real deal – the highs, the lows, and everything in between, on this journey to quit porn.


What is Porn Addiction Withdrawal?

Understanding porn addiction withdrawal begins with acknowledging the fact, that while not officially recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, many experts do believe in the existence of pornography addiction.

This complex condition arises from repetitive exposure to various forms of porn, triggering changes in brain chemicals, particularly dopamine.

As dopamine levels fluctuate, your brain attempts to maintain balance by reducing its response to the chemical, creating a tolerance to porn. Simultaneously, another chemical called dynorphin increases to counteract dopamine’s pleasant effects.

quit porn addiction

Now, when you decide to cut back or quit, your brain is thrown off balance, resulting in too little dopamine and too much dynorphin, leading to the symptoms of porn addiction withdrawal. These symptoms, both psychological and physical, indicate a reliance on pornography to fulfill emotional or physical needs in one’s life.


Top 15 Porn Withdrawal Symptoms

Experiencing porn withdrawal is no walk in the park, and while it may not be as physically intense as substance addiction withdrawal, the impact is undeniably real. So, let us understand the 15 common porn addiction withdrawal symptoms that often accompany you once you kick out of the porn habit:


1. Anxiety

porn withdrawal symptoms

A sudden break from any routine centered around behavioral addictions, like porn, can spark anxiety. The looming question of- What’s next? brings in a void and uncertainty. This leads you to often feel incomplete, as you are breaking away and moving into uncharted territory, giving rise to anxiety.

Some of the common triggers that lead to anxiety during porn addiction recovery include:

  • adjusting to life without porn
  • facing emotional discomfort head-on
  • contemplating sharing your struggle with others, setting a feeling of unease.
  • fear of judgment from those close to you.


2. Insomnia

Have you been in the habit of finding solace in the glow of a screen during the late hours?

Well, quitting porn might leave you trading those screen-lit nights for staring at the bedroom ceiling. Sleep becomes a challenge as your brain, wired for nightly dopamine hits, struggles to power down.

The compulsive habit of watching porn before bed becomes creates a void, making a good night’s sleep a distant memory. This eventually develops into insomnia.


3. Headaches

Ever tried getting rid of your caffeine dosage and found yourself battling headaches? Well, porn addicts experience the similar withdrawal symptoms.

When you decide to part ways with explicit content, it’s like telling your brain to hit the reset button on its chemical makeup. This shift back to normalcy, pre-addiction, comes with a side effect – headaches. Think of it as your brain’s way of coping with the stress and hormonal imbalance that tag along during this neurochemical reboot.


4. Irritability

Do you find your patience wearing thin lately? Well, this is resulting from the sudden absence of your go-to satisfaction—porn.

Without the visual dependence, that used to momentarily fulfill your desires, boredom creeps in, leaving you dissatisfied and longing. The void of a once self-soothing mechanism can trigger intense irritability.

Stress from the withdrawal process adds to this process, creating an overall grumpy disposition. It’s not just you; irritability is a common companion in this journey of breaking free from the allure of most addictions.


5. Loss of Libido

As you might know, pornography often presents a well-painted and idealized picture of intimacy that is far from reality. This constant interaction develops a dependency and craving for the ‘perfect’ in most porn users mind.

Therefore, it is found that many people experience low libido. They were found to lose interest in sex.

Now, this low sex drive mostly resulted from being dependent on instant gratification from the repeated fantasies of porn.

Moreover, while real-life intimacy is beautiful, a porn addict’s mind, conditioned by the repeated fantasies of porn, can find it less appealing. This discrepancy sets the stage for a decrease in desire for intimacy with your partner, a ripple effect triggering various other withdrawal symptoms.


6. Mood Swings

mood swings

A constant tug-of-war in your mood is one of the most common porn withdrawal symptoms.

Ever experienced the swift shift from Zen to extreme emotional discomfort? One moment you are feeling fine, and ordinary like every day, and the next, you feel restlessness or are struggling to keep your cool. Is even a small, irregularity causing you to feel a whole lot of emotions?

Well, this is a common symptom of withdrawal from a behavioral addiction.

A porn addict’s brain is used to a steady stream of dopamine, received from regular porn use. With the newfound sobriety, the dopamine tap has been turned off, leaving your emotions on a wild ride. Your brain, wired to expect daily pleasure doses, now faces a dopamine deficit.

Result? Mood swings, sporadic outbursts, bouts of sadness, and extreme emotional discomfort.


7. Fatigue

Fatigue is one of the common porn addiction withdrawal symptoms. While the exhaustion resulting from insomnia is one reason, your body dealing with a significant change in habit is another underlying cause.

The thing is when any stress sets in, our body naturally kicks into overdrive to deal with this stress. This, in turn, leads to fatigue and a potential hit to our immune system.

Moreover, as quitting porn introduces a level of stress, therefore, feeling more worn out than usual is entirely normal. Embrace some extra rest as your body undergoes this massive shift in habits.


8. Intrusive thoughts

As you navigate the early stages of withdrawal, you might find yourself dealing with a barrage of intrusive thoughts.

In the early stages of withdrawal, porn could linger in your mind, sparking a constant internal moral conflict. Even if you have bid farewell to active porn watching, the reel of fantasies and images might persist in your thoughts and imagination.

There’s no sugarcoating it – a sense of shame might creep in. While it’s crucial not to get ensnared in the common shame cycle tied to porn addiction, the reality is, you might feel it. 

In fact, these are some common thoughts you can expect during the early span of your withdrawal:

  • Persistent Intrusive thoughts about porn.
  • Fantasies and images might replay in your mind, even if you’ve stopped watching.
  • Overwhelming thoughts of shame, leading to a dooming self-reflection.
  • Questioning your relationships, wondering if you will be able to break free completely and ever feel normal again.


9. Cravings 

When you are on your way to breaking free from any addiction, the urge to go back is very persistent. This journey of quitting porn is the same.

Just as a string of intrusive thoughts sets in, similarly, there will be this constant craving to indulge in that compulsive habit once more. Thoughts like, maybe a quick sneak peek can be fine, and the urge to act on it will start to dominate your mind.

However, remember my friend, you have taken a tough but important step towards addiction treatment. This recovery journey is not going to be easy. In fact, these intense urges, if not handled wisely, can feel overwhelming and pave the way for a potential relapse.

All the progress you have made will be washed out. And, in no way, you can let your progress go to waste!


10. Depression

Moving ahead on this remarkable journey of quitting porn (yes, you’re doing something incredible!), you might find yourself grappling with depression.

Basically, while in the long run, porn addiction recovery leads to a wonderful effect on your mental health, the initial struggle with porn withdrawal symptoms especially on your mental health is real.

It’s like your mind is going through a recalibration process.

Imagine craving something your mind is used to, only to deny it. That void can lead to deep sadness and a sense of loss. Depression may become an unwelcome companion.

Your life is undergoing a significant shift, and as you work to untangle yourself from the grip of porn, feeling a bit down is par for the course.

Remember, this phase too shall pass, and with time, the clouds of depression will make way for a brighter mental landscape.


11. Social Anxiety

Social Anxiety

When you’re flying solo, kicking the pornography addiction habit, you can experience a bust of social anxiety.

The thing is, you are making a significant shift.

The cozy hours spent at home watching adult content now make way for healthier pastimes. Stepping out into the world, engaging in social gatherings, and interactions—these are all positive steps.

However, for those unaccustomed to the company of others, it can brew an unexpected storm of social anxiety. Swapping pixels for real faces means adjusting to genuine human interaction for joy and emotional fulfillment. It’s a challenging shift that may trigger frustration and other porn addiction withdrawal symptoms.


12. Impaired Stress Management

The next common porn addiction withdrawal symptom is impaired stress management.

Without your usual go-to habit, handling stress becomes a challenge, sometimes leading to unexpected bouts of panic attacks.

It’s like moving through a rainy day without your umbrella!

However, what do you do when you lose your old umbrella? Buy a new one, right?

Similarly, undergoing this symptom is not your sign to go back. You need to shift your focus and coping mechanisms. Adopt healthier stress management, it will be challenging, but it will help you significantly in breaking free from porn habits.

Remember, you got this far, you can reach the destination, as well.


13. Brain fog

brain fog

Have you lately found yourself staring at a task, struggling to focus? Well, many people dealing with pornography addiction have reported undergoing a brain fog.

In fact, difficulty in concentrating or a lack of focus and attention span is one of the most common withdrawal symptoms. It’s like trying to see through a mist, making concentration a challenge.

Furthermore, other withdrawal symptoms like intrusive thoughts and cravings add to this, playing with your attention, and leaving you in a mental haze.


14. Urges for Cross Addiction

When breaking free from the grip of compulsive porn habit, porn addicts often find themselves at a crossroads. As mentioned above, the sudden absence of their go-to comfort, porn, can unleash a wave of uncomfortable emotions.

Now, in desperation to halt this emotional surge, some may unknowingly replace porn with other addictive distractions.

This cross-addiction might take the form of increased drinking, smoking, or compulsive eating.

Therefore, it is absolutely important to recognize these tendencies during the early stages of recovery and work on halting them, replacing them with other genuine options.

Remember, you definitely don’t want to jump out of one addiction only to land in another!


15. Increased arousal and sexual frustration.

Well, as you bid farewell to the porn addiction, you might find yourself grappling with Increased arousal and sexual frustration.

Now, what happens is when you are not able to reach sexual satisfaction through the old habits. This creates a void and there is a stemming need to achieve some gratification, leading to sexual tension, which can reflect in your relationship.

A feeling of frequent sexual thoughts, increased overall arousal and difficulty in controlling sexual desire are common during the early recovery stages.

But remember, you need to hold on tightly and practice self-control, your partner is not responsible for responding to this craving, resulting from your porn and sex addiction.


How Long Does Porn Withdrawal Last?

Well, the honest answer is that we’re still in the dark about the exact timeline. This topic is still open to research.

However, what we do know is that there are certain factors that contribute to how long the porn addiction withdrawal symptoms may last:

  • Duration of Exposure. The duration of how long you have been immersed in the world of adult content plays a part in determining how intense the symptoms can be and how long it will take you to recover.
  • Medium of Consumption and what type of content are you engaging in? Is it mild or extreme?
  • The frequency of your porn use also contributes to determining how long will the withdrawal symptoms last and how long it will take addiction treatment to work.

Additionally, factors like one rule doesn’t fit all, are also important to consider. Similar to the withdrawal of substance addiction, someone may experience mild porn withdrawal (lasting a few days), and others may experience intense signs, lasting for weeks!

Quit porn


How to Deal with Porn Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms?

Well, dealing with porn addiction withdrawal symptoms can be challenging. However, it’s an important step toward a healthier lifestyle. Quitting something enjoyable yet addictive is never easy, but these practical tips can help you on this journey, offering some comfort and support:

  • Plan and execute: don’t go cold turkey. Any addictive behavior is a deep-rooted issue. You need to plan and move with caution. Take one step at a time. If you go cold turkey, the chances of relapse just intensify. You need a plan.
  • Get an accountability partner: It might feel awkward, but talking to someone you trust about your struggle can make a significant difference. You might be surprised by their understanding and support.
  • Keep Busy: Idle mind and hands often lead to old habits. Keep yourself busy, take up new activities, learn a new hobby, or simply go out for coffee to distract yourself from the urge to indulge.
  • Identify Your Triggers: Recognize the situations that prompt you to turn to pornography. Whether it’s late-night browsing or moments of low mood, finding alternatives and creating physical barriers, like keeping your phone across the room, can be effective.
  • Join a Support Group: Joining a support group, either in-person or online, provides a safe space to share experiences without the fear of judgment. It’s a reminder that you’re not alone in this journey.
  • Create boundaries: Well, to break the cycle, it’s absolutely important to keep out the temptations. You can use a reliable porn blocker extension or install porn-blocking tools. This will help you create a boundary and keep the temptations out.
  • Get Professional Help: A therapist, especially one experienced in addressing compulsive behavior, can offer invaluable support. While specialization in porn addiction isn’t necessary, finding someone receptive to your concerns can prove extremely beneficial in dealing with porn addiction withdrawal symptoms.


Conclusion

As you now know, porn addiction withdrawal symptoms are indeed real

However, it’s important to recognize that the true issue lies in the compulsive presence of porn in one’s life. Whether you find yourself deep in its grip or striving to break free, the detrimental effects of porn addiction are undeniable.

But, the pivotal choice rests in your hands – do you want to delve deeper into the clutches of addiction or do you want to break free?

Before you choose for momentary gratification, remember, though uncomfortable, these porn addiction withdrawal symptoms can be effectively managed through a blend of lifestyle changes, therapy, and technology. Choose wisely; your well-being is at stake.


Sources.

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Lynda Mayer

Lynda Mayer

Lynda Mayer, LPCC, an alumnus of the University of Minnesota with a master's degree in Clinical Psychology, is a seasoned licensed professional clinical counselor. With over a decade of experience in counseling, she specializes in adolescent mental health. Lynda actively shares her extensive knowledge and insights through writing, contributing significantly to the field of psychology and mental well-being. Her work not only demonstrates her expertise but also her commitment to improving adolescent mental health outcomes.

About BlockerX

BlockerX is an adult content-blocking app for Android, iOS, desktop & chrome. In addition to blocking adult content, BlockerX also has a strong community of 100,000 members and courses that help you work on your porn problems, one step at a time.

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About BlockerX

BlockerX is an adult content-blocking app for Android, iOS, desktop & chrome. In addition to blocking adult content, BlockerX also has a strong community of 100,000 members and courses that help you work on your porn problems, one step at a time.