Terry Crews is opening up about a very personal subject with the hope of helping others. Over the past few weeks, the Brooklyn Nine-Nine actor and former NFL player has posted a series of videos on Facebook in which he speaks candidly about his past addiction to porn.

"For years, my dirty little secret was that I was addicted to pornography," Crews says in the first video, which has over three million views. "It really messed up my life in a lot of ways. It became a thing where I didn't tell anybody... it was my secret, nobody knew, and that allowed it to grow, and it got bad."

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After his marriage began to suffer, Crews sought treatment in rehab. "Some people say, 'Hey man, you can't really be addicted to pornography, there's no way,'" he says. "But I'm going to tell you something. If day turns into night and you are still watching, you've probably got a problem, and that was me."

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Dirty Little Secret

Posted by Terry Crews on Thursday, February 11, 2016
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Porn addiction isn't as rare as you might think, says Health contributing psychology editor Gail Saltz, MD. Unlike sex addictions, which require a partner, porn is readily accessible to anyone with a Wi-Fi connection.

Dr. Saltz points out that porn addition is a behavioral (or psychological) addiction, which isn't the same as a physiological addiction to drugs or alcohol. "With behavioral addictions, you won't have physical withdrawal symptoms, which are the hallmark of physiological addictions," she explains. "But there's evidence to suggest that [behavioral addictions] do similarly engage the dopamine reward system in the brain, and when you try to stop, it's made difficult by your brain chemistry."

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Not all experts agree that porn addiction can be classified as an addiction in the true sense of the word, however. "I am careful with using words like 'addiction' and 'disease' in regards to an out-of-control behavior," says psychotherapist and sexuality counselor Ian Kerner, PhD.

But Kerner and Dr. Saltz both agree that an obsessive pornography habit could be a sign of other mental health issues. Kerner points out that Crews says he was suffering from anxiety when his addiction began. "I would treat his anxiety disorder and his use of porn to regulate that anxiety," Kerner explains.

A preoccupation with porn could also indicate that you're predisposed to other types of addictions, adds Dr. Saltz. "Somebody who develops a porn addiction might have other things they are obsessive about," she says. "When someone who has an obsessive personality is in a negative mood, they may seek stimulation to feel better."

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In the video above, Crews alludes to the toll that his addiction took on his relationship—which isn't surprising, says Dr. Saltz. There's no question that excessive use of porn can lead to problems with your significant other, she says: "The objectification in pornography creates distance and space with someone you're intimate with. And partners can never live up to the unrealistic porn model."

For Crews, opening up about his struggle enabled him to finally make a change. "The thing that I found is by not telling people, it becomes more powerful," he explains on camera. "But when you tell, and when you put it out there in the open—just like I'm doing right now, telling the whole world—it loses its power."

While Crews went to rehab for treatment, Dr. Saltz says that some patients are able to recover by working with an individual provider who has experience in this area.

The actor, grateful to be "free" of his addiction today, is committed to spreading awareness of the problem. "It's become my battle to help other people who are going through the same thing," he says. "There are a lot of people who can't stop, and I'm here to help you."