Behavioral Addictions

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This section contains a few selected research papers on behavioral addictions. A common argument against the existence of porn addiction is that it can't be an real addiction because it's not a drug.

All addictions involve hijacking of the same neurocircuitry, and alterations of many of the same mechanisms and neurochemicals. A basic physiological principle is that drugs do not create anything new or different - they simply increase or decrease normal brain functions. In essence, we already possess the machinery for addiction (mammalian bonding/love circuitry), and for binging (yummy food, mating season).

Science has demonstrated that many of the same addictive brain changes occur in Internet addiction, pathological gambling and food addiction, as occur in drug addiction (please see other sections for specific studies). Only a single factor makes porn addiction unique: very little research has been done on it to date. However, that is changing as we now have:

  1. Over 35 neuroscience-based studies (MRI, fMRI, EEG, neurospychological, hormonal) providing strong support for the addiction model.
  2. 12 literature reviews by some of the top neuroscientists in the world, supporting the porn addiction model.
  3. 22 studies linking porn use/sex addiction to sexual problems. The first 3 studies in the list demonstrate causation, as participants eliminated porn use and healed chronic sexual dysfunctions.
  4. Over 50 studies linking porn use to less sexual and relationship satisfaction.
  5. Over a dozen studies reporting findings consistent with escalation of porn use (tolerance), habituation to porn, and even withdrawal symptoms.

For a neurosurgeon's look at the science behind porn addiction read his talk delivered at SASH (The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health) entitled, "Changing the Stamp of Nature: Pornography Addiction, Neuroplasticity, and the ASAM and DSM Perspectives."