Can pornography use become an actual brain addiction? (Research)

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The human brain is programmed to incentivize behaviors that contribute to survival.  The mesolimbic dopaminergic system rewards eating and sexuality with powerful pleasure incentives.  Cocaine, opioids, alcohol, and other drugs subvert, or hijack, these pleasure systems, and cause the brain to think a drug high is necessary to survive.  Evidence is now strong that natural rewards such as food and sex affect the reward systems in the same way drugs affect them, thus the current interest in ‘natural addiction.’  Addiction, whether to cocaine, food, or sex occurs when these activities cease to contribute to a state of homeostasis, and instead cause adverse consequences.  For instance, when eating causes morbid obesity few will argue that the organism is in healthy balance.  Similarly, pornography causes harm when it impairs or destroys a person’s ability to develop emotional intimacy.

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Author: Donald L. Hilton, MD, FACS

Date: 2010


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