Floyd Godfrey, PhD


Why is Pornography So Addicting?

by Dr. Floyd Godfrey


Understanding the Allure

The magnetic pull of pornography largely stems from its ability to hijack the brain's reward system. This hijacking is akin to the impact of addictive substances, producing a potent mix of neurochemical rewards. When individuals engage with pornography, especially during orgasm, there's a significant release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. This dopamine surge reinforces the behavior, making the individual more likely to repeat it.

Biochemical Changes and the Coolidge Effect

One key aspect of pornography addiction is its link to biochemistry changes within the brain, particularly during the orgasmic response. This response not only floods the brain with dopamine but also involves other neurotransmitters like oxytocin and serotonin, enhancing the sense of connection and happiness. The problem arises when this biochemical reward system gets intertwined with unrealistic or constantly varying stimuli, a phenomenon known as the Coolidge effect. This effect refers to the desire for novel experiences, something pornography readily supplies, leading to an ever-increasing threshold for sexual arousal.

The Quote by Stefanie Carnes

Stefanie Carnes, a prominent figure in the study of sexual addiction, has insightfully noted, "The cycle of addiction is not just a habitual behavior but a response to deeply rooted emotional triggers." This highlights the complexity of pornography addiction, underlining that it's not solely about the search for sexual gratification but also about coping with emotional distress or unmet needs.

Pathways to Recovery

Despite the challenges, recovery from pornography and sexual addiction is attainable. The journey involves acknowledging the problem, understanding its roots, and adopting a comprehensive approach to healing. This includes therapy, support groups, and developing healthier coping mechanisms. It's crucial for individuals to remember that recovery is a process, often requiring patience, perseverance, and the willingness to change.


The path to overcoming pornography addiction begins with understanding its underlying causes, including the biochemical reactions it triggers and the psychological needs it falsely promises to fulfill. Recovery is not just about abstaining from pornography but about rebuilding a healthy relationship with oneself and others. With the right support and strategies, individuals can reclaim their lives from the grip of addiction.

Floyd Godfrey is a clinical sexologist who has been guiding clients since 2000 who struggle with pornography and sexual addiction. He is a founder of the SABR program for adults, Tribe for college, and Band of Brothers for teens at the Family Strategies Counseling Center, serving families in the area of Scottsdale and Mesa, Arizona. He currently speaks and provides consulting and mental health coaching across the globe. To learn more about his services, please visit his website: www.FloydGodfrey.com

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