How Pornography Addiction Affects the Brain
Pornography addiction is addictive behavior in which you may attempt to escape from emotional pain by viewing pornography in a compulsive way. Porn addicts typically spend as many as 11-12 hours a week viewing pornography, with or without masturbation. Like other addictive behavior, pornography addiction can quickly take over your life, becoming the most important thing in your life to the point that it can damage your relationships, career and self-respect.
Problems Caused by Porn Addiction and Other Addictions
For many people, porn is used to enhance sex lives. It can increase the excitement and enjoyment of sexual experiences, and it can allow people to explore or act out their fantasies. While this can be completely harmless for some people, for others it can lead to obsessive behavior and an inability to stop compulsively viewing porn, even when there are unwanted consequences. This compulsive element is a characteristic of addictive behavior in general.
When pornography addiction gets out of control, it wreaks havoc in your life. If you are married or in a steady relationship, your partner will feel neglected and may end the relationship. If your porn addiction leads to sex addiction, you may be at risk of sexually transmitted diseases. You may be less productive at work or you may neglect other responsibilities because of your inability to stop numbing your feelings through porn. Although other people may tell you to just stop being so obsessive about pornography, you may find that even if you try to stop, you can’t. You are compelled to keep repeating this behavior even though you know it is hurting you and those you love.
The Brain’s Response to Addictive Behavior
Addiction, both to substances and behaviors such as sex or porn, has an impact on the brain. When you become compelled to view pornographic materials, for example, your brain has an actual chemical reaction. Chemicals that allow you to feel pleasure are being stimulated while you are viewing porn or abusing substances. The brain becomes overwhelmed with high levels of dopamine, and as time passes, your brain requires more and more of this neurotransmitter in order to feel the previous level of pleasure. The brain goes through physical and structural changes that can cause you to have poor impulse control and bad decision-making.
The good news is that physical changes in the brain caused by pornography addiction are reversible, but you may need help from an addiction professional in order to overcome this addictive behavior. With the help of a psychotherapist, you can learn to get in touch with feelings that you have been trying to escape from through pornography, and you can identify other ways of experiencing pleasure in your life.
Support groups such as Sex Addicts Anonymous can help you to recognize that your challenges are not unique. With treatment you can learn to experience true intimacy in your relationships as you gradually overcome your addiction to pornography.
Bustle: Here’s What Porn Addiction Does to Your Brain – and How to Recover
American Psychological Association: Is Pornography Addictive?