October 30, 2014

WRAP Week Fact: Addiction

Pornography addiction is a condition in which a person becomes overly dependent on sexually explicit materials for their physical and emotional satisfaction. There are many individuals that view pornography regularly, but this does not always lead to addiction. However, pornography use has negative effects on the user even if the user is not “addicted.” Pornography also often has many negative effects on those close with the user and on society in general.

Symptoms of addiction include:

  1. Increased frequency in watching or reading pornography
  2. Lose track of time while watching for several hours on end
  3. Spending more money to want a greater variety and better satisfaction
  4. Rearranging your schedule and making up excuses in order to make time for pornography
  5. Experiencing physical or psychological symptoms when trying to stop, such as anger, depression, irritability, and stress

Studies show strong evidence that sex affects the rewards systems in the brain (even if not addicted) in the same way that drugs or food can as well.

  • Pornography use can impair the development of emotional intimacy.
  • Many who have struggled with multiple addictions report that pornography was the hardest addiction for them to overcome.
  • Frequent use of pornography often results in decreased interest in sex with a partner.
  • Struggles with pornography can start at any age and both men and women often struggle with controlling their usage.

Learn more on our blog and our research site.


Pornography Addiction: A supranormal stimulus considered in the context of neuroplasticity from Pornography Harms on Vimeo.

At the 2014 Summit for the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation (CESE) last May, Neurosurgeon and addiction expert, Dr. Donald Hilton gave this keynote address about the impact of pornography on the brain.

In it, he reviews much of the neuroscience literature to help the general public understand how pornography changes the brain. Dr. Hilton counters the notion that pornography addiction is not valid or widespread.

Further Reading