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Am I Really Addicted To Pornography?

Cigarette addiction and pornography..
To some, addiction is synonymous with powerlessness.

I’ve had conversations with people who watch pornography/masturbate on a regular basis. Some of them see nothing wrong with habit. They’ve the internalized the idea that it is a normal healthy human behavior, even though observation and basic reasoning indicate that it goes against human nature—which is to reproduce and connect with others—and is largely facilitated by modern technology.

Understanding Pornography Addiction

However, most people I’ve talked to, Christian AND unbeliever, acknowledge porn/masturbation to be an unhealthy habit. Almost no one is genuinely proud of it, even those who are inclined to promote it and make light of it. At the very least, most people think of it in terms of a weakness, even if they see it as a weakness common to many people. The bottom line is that it doesn’t add any lasting value to life and is not a respectable behavior.

Yet others, like myself, take a long view and can identify the harmful psychological, physical, relational, spiritual and societal consequences.

Today, I want to introduce the idea that if we watch pornography regularly, and we know it isn’t good for us, then we are probably addicted in some way. See the following common definition of addiction cited by Wikipedia.

Addiction is a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse [bad, unhealthy, harmful] consequences.


Even if it’s every other day, once a week, or once a month, to routinely and compulsively engage in a habit that we know is destructive, is the textbook definition of addiction.

Addiction is a serious thing, and that’s how we should view all habits that qualify as such.

However, there is another sense in which we are NOT addicted.

When people think of addiction, they think of powerlessness. The truth is one may be addicted to pornography, but not powerless against it.

Let me illustrate: If your mother or grandma or sister were in the room, I would bet my bottom dollar that you wouldn’t click and you wouldn’t reach for the lotion. It doesn’t matter if they were in that room for three months straight, you still wouldn’t do it because of the respect you have for them and the respect you have for yourself. You might get irritable, you might have cravings, but at the end of the day, you would be fine.

This truth doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get support. I highly recommend taking a variety of measures to protect oneself and increase your probability for success. (e.g. this, this, and this).

Today, let’s acknowledge the gravity of our habits and dispense with the excuses.

For further reading, check out My Excuses Get Me Nowhere. For the complete archive of articles, click here.

An intellectually curious millennial passionate about seeing people make healthy, informed choices about the moral direction of their lives. When I’m not reading or writing, I enjoy hiking, web-making, learning foreign languages, and watching live sports. Alumnus of Georgetown University (B.S.) and The Ohio State University (M.A.).


  1. Pornography is highly addictive. It is also very destructive to kids and children who use the internet and accidentally watch porn sites. Many parents do not activate parental controls and therefore their children watch everything.

    • A lack of monitoring is a big problem. And it can also be accessed in places you would not expect, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Or among friends. People are creative and will find a way to access whatever they are capable of accessing if the desire is there. Making it harder, though, is a good first step.

      • I say that the parents, too many parents, are not careful and do not put restrictions on the cell and on the TV. For children, pornography is destructive.

      • I’ve seen that also. It often either comes from naivete about the problem or a disinterest in doing the work to prevent it from taking root

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