Is Pornography Like a Drug to People With Sexual Compulsions?

August 13, 2014 by David S. Seltzer

Among individuals accused of pornography related cybercrimes in Florida and across the United States, many misconceptions exist. Suspects are often labeled as sex or pornography “addicts,” but these terms may not describe the behaviors to which they refer as accurately as people might think.

Does sex addiction have the same effects on the brain as drug addiction? Recent studies suggest it does, but experts advise against drawing faulty conclusions prematurely based on this evidence.

About 4 percent of adults exhibit compulsive sexual behaviors, including obsessive thoughts, feelings, and physical acts. However, the medical community has much to learn about what causes these impulses and what effects they have on individuals.

In a recent University of Cambridge trial, researchers found similarities between the brain scans of individuals with sexual impulse control problems and those of drug addicts. The study observed the brain activity of nineteen male patients with compulsive sexual behaviors against that of nineteen healthy volunteers.

Researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure subjects’ brain activity using blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signals. In the tests, the brains of patients experiencing compulsive sexual behavior displayed comparatively more activity in three regions:

Dorsal anterior cingulate.
This region generates connections between cravings and rewards.

Ventral striatum. This section helps individuals process “reward and motivation” signals.

Amygdala. This area of the brain processes the meanings of emotions and events.

Similar reactions occurred in drug addicts exposed to drug-related stimuli.

These weren’t the only correlations scientists found between drug addiction and compulsive sexual behavior. In our next post, we will explore the behavioral aspects of the University’s research and discuss what this study means for better understanding what makes habitual porn users tick.

If you have been accused of a cybercrime involving pornography, you may feel as though society or law enforcement have unfairly labeled you. David Seltzer, an experienced Florida cybercrime attorney, can help you build a strong legal case to preserve your freedom and restore your good name. Contact Seltzer Law today at 1 888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333) for a free consultation regarding your defense.