Recognizing an Addiction

Help and Support for Leaders

What Makes Pornography Addictive?

Many wonder why addicts don’t “just stop." Below are some key points on how pornography impacts the brain.

  1. The thalamus and brainstem regulate pleasure and reward activities.
    These include eating and sexuality which are important in the survival of the individual and the species.
  2. When we overuse pleasure centers, the cells that produce dopamine are overworked.
    As a defense reaction, the brain decreases the amount of dopamine available and also causes shrinkage in the cells that produce the dopamine around the cerebral cortex.
  3. Shrinkage of cerebral cortex is a consequence of addiction.
    The shrinkage in the cerebral cortex also contributes to the compulsivity and impulsivity seen in addiction.
  4. The cerebral cortex is where benefits and risks of pleasurable stimulus are weighed.
    It is the "thinking" part of the brain.
  5. Day-to-day pleasures are not enough to alleviate the brain's craving for dopamine.
    This craving in the newly reset pleasure thermostat in the brain is likely key in the desire to relapse.
  6. Brain restoration comes with abstinence to pornography.
    Restoration to more normal brain volume has been seen with recovery in addiction.

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