In his article, “Slave Master: How Pornography Drugs and Changes Your Brain,” renown neurosurgeon Dr. Donald Hilton compares four medical studies to show how addictions affect the brain. In each of the four studies, the results were identical–each showing evidence of frontal lobe shrinkage. What was surprising was how the results were the same whether it involved drug addiction (cocaine or methamphetamine) or natural addiction (uncontrolled sexuality, overeating, or gambling). All addictions caused damage to the frontal lobe of the brain.
Similar to brain damage caused by trauma, patients with frontal lobe damage exhibit a “constellation of behaviors.” They are (1) impulsive, (2) compulsive, (3) emotionally labile, and (4) show impaired judgment. It’s no wonder why addictions are difficult to overcome.
Dr. Hilton explains, “It’s the overuse of the dopamine reward system that causes addiction. When the pathways are used compulsively, a downgrading occurs that actually decreases the amount of dopamine in the pleasure areas available for use, and the dopamine cells themselves start to atrophy, or shrink. The reward cells in the nucleus accumbens are now starved for dopmaine and exist in a state of dopamine craving…In this addictive state, the person must act out an addiction to boost the dopamine to levels sufficient just to feel normal.”
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