A new study at the University of Cambridge shows that sex addiction and drug addiction have similar brain activity. The study found that individuals with a sex addiction who view pornography experience brain activity that is very similar to the brain activity caused by drug use for individuals who have a drug addiction. The researchers found that the number of people with a sex addiction can be as high as 1 in 25, and this is a considerable amount of the population. The study involved 19 patients who all suffered with sex addiction, and the brain activity of the study participants were compared to brain activity from healthy subjects without sex addiction or drug addiction issues. The male study subjects were shown a video series that involved either sports programs or sexually explicit content.
University of Cambridge Wellcome Trust Intermediate Clinical Fellow Dr. Valerie Voon stated “The patients in our trial were all people who had substantial difficulties controlling their sexual behavior and this was having significant consequences for them, affecting their lives and relationships. In many ways, they show similarities in their behavior to patients with drug addictions. We wanted to see if these similarities were reflected in brain activity, too.” Voon went on to say “There are clear differences in brain activity between patients who have compulsive sexual behavior and healthy volunteers. These differences mirror those of drug addicts. Whilst these findings are interesting, it’s important to note, however, that they could not be used to diagnose the condition. Nor does our research necessarily provide evidence that these individuals are addicted to porn — or that porn is inherently addictive. Much more research is required to understand this relationship between compulsive sexual behavior and drug addiction.”