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"The feel-good chemicals, the dopamine, are released as you're doing the behavior," therapist Mark Miller explains, and that behavior can be looking at porn, masturbating or visiting a prostitute.
The rush that comes with those chemicals becomes the goal, and the sex act merely a means to that end.
Even when his behavior made him feel terrible, he says, he couldn't control his compulsion. Another guy, who asks to be called Roger, first discovered pornography at a young age.
It was at the time, however, when magazines and videotapes — not the Internet — were the main sources.
According to some estimates, as much as 8 percent of the population suffers from some form of compulsive sexual behavior, and the true figure could be much higher due to underreporting.
Sex addiction, as it's commonly called, can take many forms: compulsive masturbation, excessive use of pornography, high-risk anonymous sex, prostitution, voyeurism, exhibitionism, multiple affairs.
The availability of the Internet, though, took away that hassle and brought affordable, anonymous smut right into his home.Chemical addictions such as alcoholism rely on an outside chemical to produce a high or relieve a craving.Process addictions, on the other hand, are all about the brain's response to specific behaviors.People often wonder how a man with a beautiful wife could possibly choose to be unfaithful, forgetting that addiction isn't really about choice.Part of the reason is that "process addictions" — addictions such as compulsive gambling and overeating, which are based in behavior rather than substances — aren't very well understood by the public.