Compulsive Pornography Users, Alcoholics, And Drug Addicts Have Similar Brain Activity

Oct 09, 2013

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Compulsive pornography use and alcohol and drug addiction share a strong link. Both destructive habits stimulate the same area of the brain. 

According to researchers, the minds of young men who are addicted to online pornography “lit up like Christmas trees” upon viewing erotic images. The study shows that the area of the brain stimulated is where the processing of reward, motivation, and pleasure occurs. This is the same area that is highly active with alcohol and drug addicts. 

The actual effects of pornography use on the brain have remained uncertain until now. A Cambridge University neuroscientist specializing in addictions studied 19 self-confessed compulsive pornography users. Ranging from ages 19 to 34, the men all had attempted and failed to break their habit, resulting in lost jobs and relationships. They continued to feed their habit through online porn. 

During the study when they were shown erotic video clips, the area of their brains called the ventral striatum lit up. This is the same area that lights up when an alcoholic sees an ad for a drink or a drug addict sees a dealer. 

This information has caused for a push in government involvement.  This Cambridge University research increases the pressure on the British government to fulfill its promise to protect young children and teens from “poisonous” websites. 

A survey has recently revealed that boys as young as 13 consider watching pornography online to be the norm. Using pornography at such a young age warps young boys and teenagers’ views of sex and treatment of girls. 

Pornography is destructive. As exemplified from the men used in the study, it can lead to damage and loss of careers and families. The younger starting age is concerning, because starting sooner only makes the habit harder to break. 

Parents can help prevent their child’s involvement with pornography by monitoring their web use. This can eliminate the opportunity of easily accessible online pornography. Net Nanny tracks children’s online activity and reports it to parents. This can help parents monitor any websites viewed and block any inappropriate items.

To read more about the Cambridge University research, visit