Porn Addiction Withdrawal

    Consuming pornography heavily impacts our brain’s reward system. This habit makes it hardwired into our brain that getting overstimulating levels of dopamine is not only normal, but needed. Quitting porn equals going on a dopamine detox. As you start unwiring this negative brain pattern you will most certainly face difficulties. As fast as 24 hours after quitting, your body is entering the porn addiction withdrawal phase.   

    Educating yourself on the possible symptoms that might arise during the withdrawal phase is a crucial part of success. You want to be able to identify these symptoms as they manifest so you’re able to rationalize them and accept them as a normal part of the quitting process.

    In this post, I’ll share with you the most common porn addiction withdrawal symptoms and a couple of tips on how to make it easier to power through it all.

    Most Common Porn Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms 

    #1 Anxiety and feelings of restlessness 

    Even when everything is seemingly going fine in our lives, most of us deal with some level of stress and nervousness. Combine our natural predisposition to feel stressed with a dopamine depleted brain and you get a very “fun” combo package of anxiety symptoms.

    For some, anxiety will manifest in the common sweaty palm form, with an increased heartbeat and excessive worrying. You might feel like you have no control over your emotions. Others will notice stiffness of their neck, muscle cramps, and spasms. The truth is, anxiety can manifest in so many different ways that it’s quite hard to predict and identify what’s really happening. As awful as you might feel, remember that you will get through it and you will end up being stronger in the end. You are not alone. 

    #2 A mix of existential loneliness and high social anxiety

    Are you craving real, deep human connection? Are you feeling very lonely and bored? At the same time, whenever you muster the courage to go out and socialize, do you feel like everyone is judging you? Do you feel like you have no idea how to connect to others? Do you back out of social gatherings and rather stay home to binge Netflix, play video games, or well… watch porn? If the answer is yes, you probably feel stuck in an endless loop that is keeping you mentally exhausted. 

    The correlation between social media and feelings of high social anxiety is scientifically proven. Considering the media’s immense prestige and the amount of content being fed to us, it’s not surprising whatsoever that we feel the way we do.

    Getting rid of your social media is a good way to start, but isolation is not the key. Joining a community of other like-minded individuals is the best way to combat this symptoms, especially in the first few weeks after quitting.

    #3 Depressive episode

    Porn over-stimulates your brain. To simplify, the human brain wasn’t created to have this amount of “free” dopamine just laying around, accessible at all times. The amount of effort being put in vs the outcome is disproportionate.

    In turn, everything else that’s supposed to be enjoyable just isn’t anymore. You’re not happy doing the simple enjoyable things because the amount of dopamine released is significantly lower compared to watching porn. Now, once you quit porn and the withdrawal phase kicks in, you will only be left with the low levels of dopamine for a while until your brain gets used to it and then all of a sudden simply getting a good workout in, walking your dog or listening to music will start being enjoyable again. Unfortunately, there’s no other way than sticking through it and trying your best to do things that naturally produce dopamine. Make sure to get enough sleep, maintain a healthy diet, exercise, and meditate. Yes, maybe nothing on that list sounds overly exciting to your dopamine depleted brain, but quickly it will become a game-changer. 

    #4 Extreme fatigue

    Fatigue doesn’t only mean that you’re feeling sleepy. Fatigue can be mental, physical, or both. General feelings of exhaustion, low motivation, lack of energy, focus, and enthusiasm. It’s hard to deal with fatigue on the daily basis. Especially since getting a good night sleep or resting doesn’t seem to help.

    The good news is that slowly you’re going to be less and less fatigued over time. But for the short-term, I recommend eating foods rich in serotonin – like eggs, turkey, salmon, cheese, different nuts, and seeds. If you drink a lot of coffee, don’t drink more (actually drinking less might help), but if you don’t consume caffeine – consider using it until you feel a bit better. You can drink tea, coffee, take caffeine supplements, chew energy gums, or even drink energy drinks. Keep your head up, fatigue will pass and you will feel better soon.

    #5 Low motivation

    Even before you decide to tackle your porn addiction and enter the withdrawal phase, you most likely feel unmotivated all the time. Quitting porn is stressful, especially if you relapse often (check out The Relapse Recovery Guide by downloading it here for free). Stress makes us overwhelmed and that can be a direct cause of your low motivation. Once you stop watching porn and you stop releasing overstimulating levels of dopamine, it will only get worse. In my opinion, there’s only one thing to do if you feel highly unmotivated.

    Don’t rely on motivation anymore. Motivation will fail you. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the best shape of your life or if you’re in the beginning stages of recovery. Motivation comes and goes, so relying on it isn’t sustainable. Instead, remind yourself of your long-term goals and your purpose.

    Purpose will give you the power to push through the lowest of points. And your long-term goals will give you the reason. Remember it’s time to embrace the discomfort – view discomfort as a new opportunity for growth. Run in the opposite direction of what’s comfortable, and you will find everything you’re dreaming of.

    How To Make Porn Withdrawal Phase Easier 

    #1 Face the harsh truth 

    Porn is holding you back from performing better in every area of your life. Once you successfully stop watching porn you will be a completely new man. It’s not easy to transform your life, but it’s crucial to give your everything into winning this war versus your brain. Most men fail at least once, some of them get defeated in a battle and yield to their addiction, and some keep fighting until they win the war. Don’t be a man who loses a war because he lost a battle. You might have an awful time going through the withdrawals, but giving up is not an option. Practice self-discipline until you achieve your goals, otherwise, you’ll keep being stuck in a vicious cycle of living with a dopamine depleted brain. 

    #2 Spend time in nature

    Spend your next free day in nature, by yourself or with a buddy or two. Hiking, fishing, going for a walk in your local park, visiting the beach. As long as the weather is good, you should head out to nature. Don’t underestimate this advice, spending time in nature is a proven way to release dopamine and serotonin, which your brain is starving for. 

    #3 Physical exercise

    You’ve probably heard this one before, but that’s because it’s truly a miracle medicine for porn withdrawal symptoms. I’ve had a number of clients stuck in a cycle of relapsing for over a year and exercise single handedly got them to quit porn forever. If you don’t practice any form of physical exercise regularly, you’re actually going to see the most benefits of starting to do so while starting your rewiring journey. If you’re someone who works out on the regular, I strongly recommend you to up your game and push for better results, since achieving those will help you naturally produce more dopamine. 

    #4 Chase Mental Fortitude

    In other words, chase mental strength. Why chase? Well, a large number of studies prove that even though there’s a genetic aspect to mental toughness, it’s trainable.

    What does it even mean to be mentally tough? In my opinion, mentally tough people choose postponed fulfillment over instant gratification. They understand that not getting what you want in the moment is worth it, especially if it benefits you long-term. Being mentally tough means you understand why your goals matter and why short-term suffering is worth the outcome. 

    People respect high-performing athletes for many reasons, and mental toughness is one of them. Truly, there’s a lot we can learn from them.

    On the other hand, being an athlete is a full-time job and most of us will have to figure out ways to build mental toughness differently. Goal setting, practicing gratitude, learning a new skill, facing our fears… Another way is learning from past trauma and turning it into a source of personal strength. 

    When it comes to developing resilience, strategies will vary between each individual. This is why having a personal strategy session with a therapist is well worth it.

    #5 Meditation 

    Meditation to the mind is like exercise to the body.

    An extremely powerful practice when done over a longer period of time. It’s the perfect habit to implement instead of watching porn. Relaxation, wisdom, compassion, focus, strength. There are endless positives and no negative sides.  

    Let me get it straight, meditation doesn’t have to look the way you initially imagine it. There’s no need to sit on a yoga mat with your legs crossed and chanting om – unless that’s what you like (in that case all the power to you). 

    Meditation is essentially the art of doing nothing. This is exactly why it’s so hard for most to get into it. Calming your own brain’s incoherent chatter into focused thoughts and doing so for a longer amount of time is uncomfortable. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and try it. Sit comfortably, close your eyes and listen to your thoughts for 15 minutes straight without distractions. 

    If you’re struggling to quit porn and you keep relapsing, schedule a consultation call here and let us help you quit porn for good.

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