STUDY: UCLA Study Says Porn Addiction Isn’t An Actual Thing

STUDY: UCLA Study Says Porn Addiction Isn’t An Actual Thing

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Earlier this year, neuroscientists Nicole Prause and Vaughn Steele and a team of researchers from UCLA conducted the largest neuroscience investigation of porn addiction ever, gathering 122 men and women who claimed to be porn addicts. The study concluded that there’s no such thing as porn addiction — at least, not when compared to heroin or alcohol addiction.

The study, published in the journal Biological Psychology, used an electroencephalogram (EEG) to measure participants’ brain activity as they viewed a variety of photos categorized as pleasant, neutral, or unpleasant — half of the pleasant photos were erotic.

The EEG measured each participant’s late positive potential (LLP), a common measure of brain activity and response. When a cocaine addict sees cocaine-related photos, for example, their LLP increases.

But the increase in LLP never came for self-identified porn addicts. In fact, Prause and Steele actually found that the LLP decreased in their brains. Even people experiencing major problems as a result of their porn habits didn’t neurologically match up to drug addicts, and so the researchers concluded that therapists should use different approaches when treating each one.

The American Psychiatric Association agrees with them. In 2010, they also concluded that there was no evidence supporting the existence of porn/sex addiction and they refused to include it in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — the guide that helps psychiatrists identify and treat diseases.

It’s important to note thought that self-proclaimed porn addicts do experience feelings similar to drug addiction. As the video above explains, sex and drugs both release dopamine (a euphoric neurotransmitter) into the body. The more regularly you consume porn, the more  your brain develops a tolerance to dopamine, requiring more and more porn to feel the same euphoric high. Over time, many porn addicts say that the abundance of porn makes actual sex quite boring, the same way a drug addiction makes real life seem drab and uninteresting.

But worry not. Even though the UCLA scientists doesn’t recognize porn as a “real” addiction, many treatment centers do. You can still be treated for porn and sex addictions through various religious groups like Integrity Restored, other therapy programs or the popular celebrity go-to Promises Treatment Centers.

(featured image via Julie Markee)

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