Awareness, Treatment, and the Danger of Online Pornography on the Brain

Addiction to online pornography is currently NOT in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V). This opens the debate on whether or not it is a harmful addiction. However, it is in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). I disagree that online pornography is both harmless and not a real addiction.

Alcohol and substance abuse are defined as: “A pathological relationship with a mood altering substance.” Pornography addiction is easily defined as: “A pathological experience with a mood altering substance”. There is only one difference. Alcohol and substance abuse is a RELATIONSHIP. Pornography addiction is an EXPERIENCE.

Furthermore, online pornography delivered with high-speed internet satisfies every precondition for neuro-plasticity. Neuro-plasticity refers to a change in brain structure. This is due to many different factors. Pornography online is accessible, available, widely accepted and provides anonymity.

If you or someone that you care about wishes to self assess, try the PATHOS online assessment or the Sexual Addiction Screening Test (SAST-R 2.0). Both are high in validity and reliability.

For further assessment and to get help with this struggle, contact us at The Lighthouse Emotional Wellness Center in Arlington Heights, IL.
Call (847) 253-9769 or email

-Written by Edward L. Oriole, LCPC, NCC, CADC

-With contribution from Angela Zender, QMHP