When people use pornography long term, addiction can develop. Intimacy is affected, and healthy, loving relationships are not possible. The result is a decline in the interest in real, human partners. The use of internet pornography affects the brain, and actually changes the structure and function of it. Chronic porn use alters the reward circuitry in the brain, and changes behaviour, mood, and the ability to have close relationships.

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter in the brain that powers the reward circuit. The internet provides endless novelty, which activates the reward circuitry. When activated, dopamine is released and the effect is a feeling of euphoria. When neurons in the brain fire together, they wire together. Meaning that when porn floods dopamine into the brain, the brain’s reward pathway is rewired. When the reward pathway is rewired, the brain is altered and the desire for porn increases. Over time, the type of porn being watched loses its appeal, and more hardcore porn is required to get the same effect as before. The higher levels of dopamine being released in the brain make regular activities less interesting, and they don’t register any more. The dopamine being released by these activities is not enough to produce an effect. Over time, the need for porn increases, and normally satisfying behaviour no longer provide pleasure.

If porn use is stopped the brain can return to previous functioning, due to neuroplasticity. The earlier porn use can be altered, the quicker the brain is able to repair itself. Other symptoms of porn use can also be alleviated (such as depression, anxiety, decreased motivation and concentration).