How long does it take to recover from porn addiction?

People new to recovery from porn addiction often ask about how long the recovery process takes. It makes sense to wonder because recovery, for many people, can be quite challenging. Having a specific “day count” or date to aim for makes recovery seem attainable. Indeed, the phrase “recover from porn addiction in 30 days” is a lot less scary sounding than “recover from porn addiction.” However, the answer to “how long does it take to recover from porn addiction,” which is one of our most frequently-asked-questions, is nuanced and depends on a wide variety of factors.

It depends on what you are recovering from.

People use NoFap or other recovery-oriented websites for a variety of reasons. While NoFap’s main focus is helping people to overcome porn addiction, some users struggle with porn overuse and/or compulsive sexual behavior. A smaller minority of users aren’t really “recovering” from anything at all but simply made a personal decision to stop using porn or to reduce their use despite never being addicted to it.

To meet the generally-accepted criteria for porn addiction, the person must be unable to stop pornography use, despite significant negative consequences of continuing to use it. Therefore, if somebody can stop using porn relatively easily, they would not fit the criteria for technically being a porn addict. For more information on the criteria of porn addiction, see the Porn Addiction 101 guide.

However, even in the absence of addiction, some might still struggle with porn overuse. Keep in mind that you don’t need to be technically addicted to porn to experience negative effects stemming from your porn habits. People who overuse porn or have an unhealthy relationship with porn without being addicted to it should, in a general sense, be able to recover more quickly than their addicted peers.

Now we come to “compulsive sexual behavior disorder” (CSBD), which has often been referred to as “sex addiction” by some experts (for example, IITAP and SASH) and in the media. Our website does not focus on compulsive sexual behavior unrelated to porn use, but some of our users report struggling with it in conjunction with a problematic porn habit. Indeed, there’s a huge difference between having sex and watching sex films – digital porn doesn’t exist in nature and, to many experts, is considered a super-stimulus. People who also struggle with non-porn compulsive sexual behavior could take longer to recover since many clinicians report that many who struggle with non-porn-related CSBD are “traditional addicts” who have previous trauma and other factors that could have led them to abuse an otherwise natural and healthy behavior.

It depends on your history.

When did you start looking at porn? People who had a chance to grow up without using digital porn often report recovering from porn addiction more quickly. Unfortunately, these days, many underage kids and teens are using porn well before their first date or first kiss.

How long have you been using porn? If you’ve only been hooked on porn for a few years, it generally wouldn’t take you as long to recover versus somebody who has a decades-long problem porn habit. You can’t reasonably expect to fully overcome a 30-year-long porn addiction in just 30 days.

How excessive were your porn habits? Generally, the more porn that you used, the harder that it might be to quit or reduce your use.

Do you have other issues that need to be worked on? How long recovery takes sometimes depends on factors behind your control. It might depend on your physiology, background, beliefs, upbringing, environmental factors, family history, or other things that you are struggling with. If you have a co-occurring addiction, such as substance addiction or even other behavioral addiction, it could take you longer to recover – and it’s a good idea to get some professional support. The same goes for any depression, shame, anxiety, or other psychological factors that can lead you to increased problem porn use. Keep in mind, however, that not all (or even most) porn addicts are porn addicts due to non-porn-related issues – but simply because unlimited digital porn was available to them. Many experts believe that many porn addicts, particularly those who grew up using Internet porn, appear to be “conditioned addicts,” where they don’t have any innate susceptibility to addiction or trauma that led to problem porn use, but rather conditioned their brains to prefer pornography instead of people through sheer repetition.

It depends on the side effects that you’ve experienced.

Do you have porn-associated erectile dysfunction? Porn-induced erectile dysfunction (often abbreviated as “PIED”) refers to an inability to “get it up” with a partner while having zero issues achieving arousal with pornography. The simple explanation is that, essentially, people with PIED have, through a lot of repetition, conditioned their brains to prefer digital porn instead of people. People with PIED often report that they take significantly longer to recover.

Do you have other porn-induced sexual dysfunction, such as anorgasmia? This is also referred to as delayed ejaculation – and both of these terms refer to an inability to orgasm during partnered sex, or even masturbation without using pornography. Many porn addicts experience this and it could be, in a sense, considered a less severe form of PIED. Some porn addicts will “replay” porn scenes in their heads while masturbating or having partnered sex. Other porn addicts develop a “death grip” where they stimulate their genitals far beyond what another human being is capable of, making partnered sex far less pleasurable in comparison. The further you are from enjoying real sex, the longer your recovery may take.

Are you uninterested in real sex? There’s a huge difference between porn addiction and the often-discussed concept of “sex addiction.” Porn addicts are often very disinterested in sex – and will choose using porn over partnered sexual opportunities that are available to them. If you are still interested in real, organic sex with your partner, that might be a good sign for your recovery.

Do you feel that your life is completely dysfunctional? Porn addiction is a serious issue that deserves the same level of concern as other behavioral addictions. For some people, you might never know that they’re porn addicts (such as Terry Crews). For others, porn addiction can be completely debilitating. If you are struggling to live a sustainable life, unfortunately, that might be a sign that you’ve got a journey ahead of you. Fortunately, help is available – and recovery is possible.

It depends on how seriously you take recovery.

Do you have any prior success in reducing your porn use? People with long porn-free streaks are well-positioned to kick problem porn use for good. Like with many things in life, experience helps to set a foundation for future success.

Are you using porn occasionally while trying to recover? If you keep on going back to porn, you’re only prolonging your recovery from porn addiction. While some people, particularly non-addicts who struggle with porn overuse and make the personal decision to continue using it, can engage in “weaning off” (reducing porn use over a period of time), porn addicts are generally advised to steer clear of any porn use for the foreseeable future. In a peer-reviewed paper, the authors observed clinical reports from three recovering porn addicts with porn-induced erectile dysfunction. Two addicts who were able to stay porn-free were able to regain sexual function, while the third wasn’t able to reduce his porn use and continued experiencing erectile dysfunction.

Are you going “lite mode,” “normal mode,” or “hard mode”? While there isn’t much peer-reviewed academic research yet (but plenty of anecdotes) on the long term outcomes for recovering porn addicts, we have noticed some trends among our users. In particular, people with severe porn addiction often report finding it beneficial to spend a temporary period of time completely abstaining from masturbation, or even orgasm altogether. Generally this “rebooting” (the verb for the abstinence from such behaviors) period lasts between 30 days to 90 days. There are many potential reasons for this, but one main reason is that it is challenging for a porn addict to separate pornography from masturbation – and that masturbating or having sex while thinking about porn often leads back to porn use. If you’re struggling with serious porn addiction, it might be useful to consider reducing the amount that you masturbate to more moderate levels to speed things up.

Are you avoiding porn-substitute activities? Many porn addicts, in the absence of porn, will seek out replacement activities. These can include spending hours surfing sexualized media or dating apps, checking out social media bikini pictures, or similar activities to personally sexualize non-sexual media. All digital sexual media – or media that a porn addict seeks out to sexualize to replace pornography – should be avoided for the duration of recovery. It’s okay to take a temporary break from some television shows, social media platforms, apps, or other places where you encounter imagery that leads you back to problem porn use.

Are you trying to get informed about recovery? There’s a huge difference between people who try to go about recovery without any information – and those who seek out information. Since you are reading this article, you are probably the latter – which is good news for your recovery. Important information to learn includes the best recovery practices and what is going on with a porn addict’s brain. To put it quite frankly, many people in the recovery community are under-informed and don’t take enough time to research the basics – how many times have you seen “is a wet dream a relapse?” posted on a recovery forum? This misinformation about recovery and rebooting is a particular problem in the “coaching” and “YouTuber” spheres. Whenever a craving comes up, it’s comforting to know exactly what is happening with your brain. You can get started on the Porn Addiction 101 page, which is science- and evidence-based.

Are you seeing a therapist? This is especially important for people experiencing severe symptoms, people with occurring psychological issues, or other mental disorder and distress. But you don’t need to be experiencing a mental health crisis to visit with a therapist. The neutral, third-party perspective of a therapist can help you to identify areas that need improvement, help you to balance your life, give you professional guidance, set you up with some tools for success.

Are you holding yourself accountable? Porn addicts who seek out accountability often report greater success in quitting porn. This could be with a romantic partner, a friend, an accountability group, a recovery coach, or an accountability partner found through our forums. Outside of accountability, just connecting with peers going through a similar journey could be incredibly beneficial. You can get started on our forums.

It depends on living a fulfilling life.

Are you taking care of yourself? Living a healthy life is an important aspect of recovery. You’ll feel better, which can lead to fewer urges to go back to porn – and it will certainly make you more capable of resisting cravings. This includes getting enough sleep, exercising or getting some movement into your routine, scheduling in some relaxation, and eating well.

Are you building up healthy stress outlets? Not only do you need to take care of your body, but you also need to take care of your mind. Many porn addicts condition themselves to run to porn at the slightest hint of stress. In lieu of problem porn use, it is important to ensure that you are taking care of the daily stressors of life, or any adversity that you may have to deal with. These can include exercising, video games, recreational sports, family time, or connecting with others.

Are you pursuing things that you care about? Living a happy life is an important component of recovering from porn addiction. We often tell people to “live a life that’s so fulfilling that there’s no room for porn addiction reenter it.” Are you taking care of everything that needs taken care of? Use the free time garnered through quitting porn to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself. How are your finances – time to set up a budget? How is your career – time to learn a new skill? How is your education – need to study more often? How is your family – time to call a distant relative that you haven’t spoken to in a while? How is your work-life balance – time to put more time into fun and recreational activities? What else could you put time into to improve?

Are you engaging in a real-world romantic relationship? While having a significant other won’t “cure” porn addiction, some people believe that engaging in healthy human-to-human intimacy could be beneficial to recovery. While it may be beneficial to temporarily abstain from sexual activity for partnered addicts, many people in recovery feel that it’s beneficial to start re-implementing partnered romantic (cuddling, dates) and sensual (kissing, hugging, etc) activities to “rewire” their brains back to reality. Single people might benefit from going on some dates – or, if you’ve never been in a relationship and want to pursue a relationship, getting ready to start dating.

It depends on your definition of “recovery.”

Some believe that you are “recovered” is when you can successfully abstain from using porn and no longer have significant cravings that lead to you abandoning your recovery plan, no longer meeting the definition to be diagnosed with porn addiction. However, it still might take longer to reduce or reverse the negative side effects that you experienced from the problem porn habit. Some people consider the reduction or reversal of these symptoms, such as porn-induced erectile dysfunction, to be signs of “recovery.”

In general, recovery means that you’ve overcome the side effects caused by porn addiction and are no longer at significant risk of relapsing back into problem porn use. However, some people consider themselves to be in recovery for many years, for a variety of reasons. “Recovery,” to some people, is a subjective term since they feel that they are recovering their quality of life – for decades. Some people consider recovery to be a life-long process. Your personal definition of “recovery” will impact how long recovery takes to achieve.

The short answer: there isn’t a set amount of time that it takes to recover from porn addiction.

Unless if you have access to a time machine or know someone with magical powers who can look into the future, you’re out of luck. While we can share our best practices and different factors that impact recovery, there’s no accurate way to predict exactly how long it will take for you to recover.

If you’re feeling like recovery is impossible, you might want to read some success stories to get motivated. But just because you read somebody else’s story on our website or forums doesn’t mean that your experience will be the same or even similar. Everyone is unique and therefore has a unique recovery experience. We’ve seen people say that they’re recovered after 30 days – while others still consider themselves to be in recovery after 10 years.

We recommend focusing on what you have control over – doing everything within your power to reduce the duration of your recovery and your odds of success. If you keep taking care of yourself, getting the support that you need, and staying porn-free, recovery is only a matter of time. In the meantime, you might find it motivational to set milestones for yourself – 30 days, 60 days, or 90 days porn-free, since doing so will give you something to aim for. After you reach your initial goal, you can evaluate your situation and decide on whether or not you will need to continue your recovery parameters. After you are recovered from porn addiction, you will have to decide on how you choose to express your sexuality in your life – whether solo or with a partner.

Keep in mind that recovery from porn addiction is not a “linear” process that gets better and better every day. Usually, it has its ups and downs, eventually trending upwards. Keep on moving forward, day by day, and you CAN recover from porn addiction.

Whenever you do feel like you’ve recovered, please consider anonymously sharing your story with the world to inspire others. Until then, remember that recovery from porn addiction, porn overuse, and compulsive sexual behavior is entirely possible. Many people have done it – and so can you. We’ll be there to support you along the way, along with our 100,000s of community members who are also in recovery.

15 thoughts on “How long does it take to recover from porn addiction?”

  1. This is a great article! Whoever wrote it knows what they are talking about.
    As someone now in long term “Recovery/Discovery” from multiple addictions, Porn being one (i.e. Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder) for the past 29 years, whoever wrote this did a fine job and know what they are talking about.

    Sincerely,

    Eric Belsterling, MA, LPC, LCAS, CSAT, CCS-I
    EMDR Level II, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Level II
    Heart and Soul Recovery, PLLC
    30 Cumberland Ave., Suite 201
    Asheville, NC 28801
    [email protected]
    heartandsoulrecovery.org
    (828) 337-0391

  2. How do you know when you’ve recovered? Im going on 6 and a half months no porn, no sex, no masturbation. Are there any tells that you are recovered? Also once im done should i continue semen retention, what are the benefits of that?

    1. When you don’t feel a compulsion to use porn, and even if you would, when you are the master of your desire – you overpower it, and your mind listens to you, you are freed from porn addiction. Never relapse, coz if you do, you end up falling in that same addiction cycle, until you again strongly desire to stop it.
      I was going so well on my recovery journey, and I gave in to the smallest of desires to use it for just one day. And what happened? I’m back to square one.

      1. Hi Naraendra!
        Your comment gives me so much hope, you know why? You have experienced freedom from porn. You know that feeling when you don’t have to look back. Get back on your feet and keep walking. Surely you have made some progress. Next time nothing will stop you. Keep in mind that failure could come at anytime so don’t feel too overconfident.

        Keep going! We are in this all together

    2. I have almost completed two months of no porn, no sex and no masturbation. i feel i am recovered fully from masterbation and porn. but the associated dysfunctions like PIED, premature ejaculation, etc i think is still there and will take time. but as of now i am happy with both the physical and mental benefits. semen retention is most important. semen is the life within. I think semen will cure oneself from all disease itself. so should not waste it. we should master the art of making sex with out ejaculation. ejaculation is to be made only for procreation purpose; not for recreation.

  3. What happens if you give in to the addiction? Fighting it now is kinda pointless cause am a 39 aged guy whose single all of his life probably because of porn but doesn’t matter anyway.. Feelings are dead inside and am near death, love and human affection is something for years I rejected until I couldn’t even speak to the other gender anymore or keep contact with my friends that are in a relationships cause “they sooo stuck up” jealousy thinking. At this point the reason for going NoFap for a week or so is so I could lesson my depression cause I swear am 3 nuts away from killing myself. I encourage anyone that feels like they have a chance to beat this to take it with both hands cause I feel no guy should have to go through the pain I been in through for almost 25years.

    1. Hey man, its really hard to read that. I had a friend who was always terrified about he could never trust in anyone, or feel safe again because of his family issues. Hope you do your best at trying to overcome your addiction. I tell you what I used to tell him, who nowadays feels better: I think our past can’t change but if you keep doing your best, there’s always be a minimum chance that things go different. If you end that… You’ll never know what could have happen. I think you can be strong enough to take the risk. Good luck

  4. I want a satisfactory answer, please, is the effect of pornographic presentations irreversible on the brain in terms of intelligence and memory? I was very smart, but I’ve been stuck in this swamp for 6 years and want to get rid of it

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *