Study Shows Brain Activity Similar Between Sex and Drug Addicts
A recent study by researchers in Britain claims that a someone addicted to sex has similar brain functions to someone addicted to drugs. Although addiction is not diagnosed as a disorder, psychologists and therapists can treat it. This study could possibly provide the insight needed to prove that addiction is a disorder and help in developing treatment models.
The study was conducted by Dr. Valerie Voon along with a team of researchers at Cambridge University. The study included 19 heterosexual males who had compulsive sexual behavior and 19 other men who did not. MRI scans were used to find out which parts of the brain were triggered while the subjects watched pornography or other sexually explicit materials compared to sports-related content.
Researchers saw in the men with compulsive sexual behavior heavy activity in certain parts of the brain when watching the sexually explicit material versus the non-explicit material. Those parts of the brain that were triggered are important, because they are also active when drug users anticipate using, process reward and motivation, and experience cravings.
The participants also rated how they felt while watching the videos. They rated sexual desire as being high, while giving a low rating to how much they liked the videos.
“This is important, because desire is an index of wanting something, not because you actually like it, but because you obtain pleasure from it,” Voon said. “That’s one of the theories of addiction; when people are addicted to drugs, they’re working hard for the reward of the drug, but they don’t necessarily enjoy it.”
The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health estimates that compulsive sexual behavior may affect 3 to 5 percent of the U.S. population. Voon hopes their study will help those suffering from a disorder that some consider fake.
If you feel you or someone you know may be suffering from sex addiction or drug or alcohol addiction, call us at 337-347-9307. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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