Study Shows Brain Activity Similar Between Sex and Drug Addicts
A recent study by researchers in Britain claim that a sex addicts’ brain functions very similarly to that of a drug addict. Although it is not diagnosed as a disorder, psychologists and therapists can treat it. This study could possibly provide the insight needed to prove it 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. 19 heterosexual males who had compulsive sexual behavior and 19 other men who don’t were recruited. 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 other non-explicit ones. 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 when craving drugs.
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 also very telling according to the research group because it mimics the theory of incentive motivation.
“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 during 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 is addicted to drugs or alcohol call us at 337-347-9307. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
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