A path through the woods becomes larger with each new hiker. It’s the same thing with the brain. As men fall deep into the mental habit of viewing pornography neural pathways are forming in the brain. Each time you look at an erotic image these neural paths are triggered. They become the automatic pathways through which all contact with women are directed. Those who repeatedly view porn have unknowingly created a circuit in the brain which keeps them from viewing women appropriately. Their brains are actually rewired into an addictive habit.

Scientists at Cambridge University recently studied the brain scans of porn addicts and found that they looked remarkably similar exactly like those of drug addicts.  Sex, cocaine, and many other drugs all stimulate the same pleasure center of the brain where dopamine is released. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. People with low dopamine levels may be more prone to addictions.

Because of the way that the brain functions, it’s impossible to keep getting the same “high” off of drugs or porn without continuing to increase the dosage.

Just like other addictive substances, porn floods the brain with dopamine. But since the brain gets overwhelmed by the constant overload of chemicals that comes with consistent porn use, it fights back by taking away some of its dopamine receptors….

With fewer receptors, even if the brain is putting off the same levels of dopamine in response to porn, the user can’t feel dopamine’s effect as much. As a result, the porn they were looking at doesn’t seem as arousing or exciting, and most porn users go hunting for more porn or more hardcore porn, or progress beyond porn to more stimulating and damaging forms of acting out to get the effect the old porn used to offer.

As a frequent porn user’s brain acclimates to the new levels of dopamine flooding through it, regular activities that would normally set off a burst of dopamine and make the person feel happy aren’t strong enough to register much anymore, leaving the user feeling down or uneasy whenever they go for a while without looking at porn. That’s one reason why pornography can be so addictive.

Once addiction sets in, the user has a whole new set of problems, because addiction damages the part of the brain that helps you think things through to make good choices….  And here’s the really scary part: the more porn a person looks at, the more severe the damage to their brain becomes and the more difficult it is to break free. But there’s good news too…. the damage to the brain can be undone when someone gets away from unhealthy behaviors.

In most ways sexual addiction is just like other addictions. However, the shame and social taboos associated with it often make it an even more difficult and baffling enemy. The good news, however, is that there is hope. We have seen many individuals face their addiction head-on in community and find freedom and healing .”


(Taken from the article “Pornography — The Ultimate Bait and Switch” found in the book Under the Covers, A Message of Hope for Those Who Want to be Free From Porn, Buying Sex and Abuse, available on this website.)