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Pornography Addiction Treated with Naltrexone

Updated: Apr 29



According to Bostwick & Bucci (2008), “malfunctioning in the brain’s reward center” is increasingly understood to underlie all addictive behavior. They describe the reward center as being composed of mesolimbic incentive salience circuitry, and say that this reward center “governs all behavior in which motivation has a central role, including acquiring food, nurturing young, and having sex.” They say that “basic survival activities can pale in importance when challenged by the allure of addictive substances or behaviors.”


This is a fascinating finding because addictions overcome common sense and even the victims’ sense of duty and honor in some cases. The authors go on to explain that dopamine is the neurotransmitter driving both normal and addictive behavior. Other neurotransmitters modulate, (or govern) the amount of dopamine released “in response to a stimulus, with the salience being determined by the intensity of the dopamine pulse.” (In other words, the amount and force of the dopamine can enhance the results (powerful, very powerful, extremely powerful).


Naltrexone is an FDA-approved opioid antagonist used to treat alcohol use disorder and opioid dependence. Naltrexone blocks the effect of opioids and prevents opioid intoxication and physiologic dependence on opioid users. It is also used for those who are addicted to pornography. In 2008, using Naltrexone was a “novel use in suppressing a euphorically

compulsive and interpersonally devastating addiction to Internet pornography.”


In this study, a male patient aged 24 years old, said his sexual addiction had “consumed his entire life.” He was afraid that he would lose both his marriage and his job if he couldn’t control his “preoccupation with internet pornography.”


So, what can we learn from this? We can learn that the patient wasted a lot of time on the internet and progressed to “in-person sexual contacts.” He was already taking a “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor,” and this combined with naltrexone “coincided with a precipitous decline in and eventual resolution of his addictive symptoms.”


This information is very hopeful and could help others to overcome an internet pornography addiction. The gem from the story is the great desire and determination of this man to do whatever he could to break the hold of his addictive behavior.


Resources

Bostwick, J. M., & Bucci, J. A. (2008). Internet sex addiction treated with naltrexone. Mayo Clinic

proceedings, 83(2), 226–230 . https://doi.org/10.4065/83.2.226

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