An addiction to alcohol, porn or both can harm your mental and physical health and strain your relationships.

Alcohol addiction is a major problem in the United States today. However, many Americans also struggle with alcohol use disorder and other behavioral health conditions, like process addictions. Although it is not yet included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, porn addiction is considered a type of process addiction.

Some doctors think that pornography, or porn, consumption can be addictive. Although doctors are not sure of the exact mechanism of porn addiction, some doctors think that porn use may trigger the brain’s reward system similar to how drug and alcohol use induce pleasurable sensations. In turn, this activation may lead to the development of an addiction to porn, just like it does with alcohol and drugs.

Article at a Glance:

Alcohol abuse is a common problem

Some doctors believe that porn use can be addictive, however, it is not thought to be an addiction by either the American Psychiatric Association or the WHO

Having a negative mood is a risk factor for both alcoholism and porn addiction

Alcohol abuse and porn addiction can both harm relationships

Therapy may help with porn addiction, while alcohol addiction can be successfully treated with detox and alcohol rehab

The Relationship Between Alcohol and Porn

Medical professionals understand that some people have problems stopping porn use, similar to how they may have problems stopping alcohol use.

However, the American Psychiatric Association, a group that helps doctors diagnose and treat mental health disorders, does not recognize porn addiction at this time. Similarly, the World Health Organization (WHO) does not currently recognize porn addiction. However, both of those groups recognize alcohol addiction and the WHO recognizes the much broader category of compulsive sexual behavior disorder.

At least one of these risk factors of porn addiction is mood problems including a negative mood — is also a risk factor for alcohol abuse. However, doctors still need to do more research to learn more about any other links between alcohol and porn addiction.

Dangers of Alcohol and Porn

One of the main dangers that alcohol and porn addiction share is that they can harm relationships. Studies have shown that people with compulsive sexual problems like porn addiction have lower general sexual desire than most people.

Therefore, people with porn addiction may crave porn instead of sex with their partner. Doctors think that the thrilling nature of porn may harm the brain’s natural reward system, making regular sex seem less interesting by comparison. In turn, this may harm their partner’s self-esteem.

Heavy alcohol use can harm relationships, too. About 10% of children live with a parent who struggles with alcohol. Further, in marriages where one partner drinks heavily, the divorce rate is nearly 50%, according to a nine-year study.

Similarities Between Alcohol and Porn Addiction

Addiction to alcohol and behaviors like watching porn have some similarities:

  • Difficulty controlling a desire to drink or watch porn
  • Neglecting other areas of life that do not involve alcohol or porn
  • Continuing to drink or watch porn despite the knowledge that it is harmful

One researcher has found that brain scans of people with porn addictions watching porn is similar to brain scans of alcoholics watching ads for alcohol. However, more research is needed.

Alcohol and Porn Addiction Statistics

When surveyed, approximately 7 percent of Americans had problems with heavy alcohol use in the past month, according to data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Similarly, researchers believe that hypersexual disorders, including porn addiction, affect up to six percent of Americans. In one survey from The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, about nine percent of people who watch porn have said they have had a problem trying to stop their porn use.

However, because there are currently no criteria to diagnose a porn addiction, it is hard to be certain of the exact number. Likewise, there is no reliable data on how often someone who struggles with alcohol use is also addicted to porn.

Related Topic: Pornography and depression

Alcohol and Porn Addiction Treatment

Some studies have shown that people who can quit porn can recover, in whole or in part, and regain normal sexual desire and functioning.

There are currently no drugs that are regularly used to treat porn addiction, however, some doctors think that therapy can be useful. Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, can be useful for anyone who struggles with porn addiction or alcohol addiction.

Alcohol addiction is successfully treated with medical alcohol detox and addiction treatment programs like inpatientand outpatient care.

Treatment for Co-Occurring Porn and Alcohol Addictions

However, porn addiction and substance abuse can occur together. The same, or similar, treatment modalities may address alcohol abuse, porn addiction or both conditions simultaneously. When someone struggles with both an alcohol and a porn addiction, they have co-occurring disorders.

Treatment for co-occurring alcohol and porn addictions may include:

If you struggle with alcohol abuse with or without porn addiction, help is available. Our trained professionals at The Recovery Village are here to assist you in your goal of a better life, without alcohol and porn. Contact us today to learn more.

Camille Renzoni
Editor – Camille Renzoni
Cami Renzoni is a creative writer and editor for The Recovery Village. As an advocate for behavioral health, Cami is certified in mental health first aid and encourages people who face substance use disorders to ask for the help they deserve. Read more
Jessica Pyhtila
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Dr. Jessica Pyhtila is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist based in Baltimore, Maryland with practice sites in inpatient palliative care and outpatient primary care at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Read more
Sources

American Psychiatric Association. “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition.” Published 2013. Accessed May 19, 2019.

World Health Organization. “ICD-11 for Mortality and Morbidity Statistics.” Updated April 2019. Accessed May 19, 2019.

De Alarcon R, de la Iglesia J, Casado NM, Montejo AL. “Online Porn Addiction: What We Know and What We Don’t—A Systematic Review.” Journal of Clinical Medicine, published January 2019. Accessed May 19, 2019.

Yang P, Tao R, He C, et al. “The Risk Factors of the Alcohol Use Disorders—Through Review of Its Comorbidities.” Frontiers in Neuroscience, published May 11, 2018. Accessed May 19, 2019.

Weir K. “Is Pornography Addictive?” American Psychological Association, published April 2014. Accessed May 19, 2019.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Alcohol Facts and Statistics.” Updated August 2018. Accessed May 19, 2019.

Wilde C. “Heavy Drinking is Bad for Marriage if One Spouse Drinks, But Not Both.” University at Buffalo. Published November 21, 2013. Accessed May 19, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.