Is It Possible to Have Both Porn Addiction and Drug Addiction at the Same Time?

Dr R. Y. Langham

Mar 15, 2022

You may be wondering if your “porn use” qualifies for porn addiction. If so, you are not alone.

Porn addiction is characterized as “excessive or heavy porn use” that is involuntary and disruptive. When you struggle with porn addiction, you are unable to stop the behavior (porn-watching), despite the unpleasant consequences (i.e., broken marriages or romantic relationships, lost friendships, debt, loss of employment, low work productivity, poor work performance, low self-confidence, shame, guilt, etc.). Because the “porn use” is completely out of the addict’s control, full recovery cannot occur until he or she seeks porn addiction treatment.

But what happens when you have co-occurring addictions or dual diagnoses (porn addiction and drug addiction)?

It is easy to turn to drugs while viewing porn and it is also easy to turn to porn while abusing drugs. Some drugs can enhance the effects of using porn, and porn can intensify the effects of the drugs. It’s a brain thing. Drug abuse and “heavy porn use” can alter how your brain functions. It also changes your brain chemistry, so you feel unable to be sexually satisfied without porn and drugs.

Note: For the purpose of this article, “drugs” refers to illegal substances.

Researchers suggest that porn addiction and drug abuse or drug addiction tend to occur together. In fact, according to a 2011 study, approximately 58% of porn addicts struggle with or have struggled with drug addiction in the past. The truth is porn addiction and drug addiction are closely linked with one addiction fueling the other one. The result? A vicious porn/drug abuse cycle that makes porn addiction relapses more likely and porn addiction recovery more challenging.

Porn and drugs provide an “escape” from negative emotions, stress, boredom, trauma, relationship problems, low self-confidence or self-esteem, unhappiness, sexual dissatisfaction, etc. When a person uses porn and drugs, it causes chemical changes in his or her brain. These changes make the addict feel happy, satisfied, relaxed, and confident. Therefore, to achieve complete recovery from co-occurring porn and drug addictions, they must both be treated – together or individually.

Relapsing with one condition (i.e., porn addiction) increases your risk of relapsing from the other addiction (i.e., drug addiction), so you must learn how to avoid your triggers for both addictions. Understand, however, that co-occurring addictions can complicate recovery, but “freedom” from porn and drugs is still possible – with the right treatment, resources, and tools.

If you want to learn more about porn addiction and drug addiction, you have come to the right place. This article will explore the relationship between porn and drugs.

So, is it possible to have a porn addiction and a drug addiction at the same time? Absolutely.

What Happens When You Combine Drugs with Porn Addiction?

First, understand that porn addiction is not about ethics, values, morality, or sex, rather, it involves an unrelenting compulsion to perform risky, irresponsible, dangerous, or destructive behaviors – behaviors that are designed to trigger your brain’s reward system.

Drug addicts, like porn addicts, are dependent on the feelings evoked by watching porn or using drugs. Thus, when drugs and porn are combined it produces a euphoric sensation in your body. This feeling of being “high” compels you to return to these activities because they bring you joy and satisfaction.

Also, when porn and drugs are combined, both vices are intensified. Drugs can also help dull the guilt and shame associated with viewing porn. So, many porn addicts use or abuse drugs to block out the feeling that they are doing something “bad,” “evil,” or “wrong.” It’s a nasty cycle of addiction. However, porn addiction help and drug abuse treatment can help you heal from your co-occurring addictions.

Is There a Difference Between Cross-Addiction and Co-Occurring Addiction?

Yes, there is!

Contrary to popular belief, most addicts are addicted to more than one substance or behavior. Think about it, addiction, regardless of the type, is almost always driven by a desire to avoid or “escape” a negative or unpleasant incident or emotion (i.e., anxiety, depression, abuse, trauma, boredom, relationship problems, etc.).

Typically, the only way to rid yourself of these non-stop urges is to engage in the behavior or perform a certain action. Once, the compulsion is satisfied, feelings of relief, intense pleasure, happiness, excitement, and a feeling of being “high” arise. Because, of these positive emotions, you keep returning to it when stressed, upset, worried, afraid, bored, etc.

People with multiple addictions are also considered to have cross-addictions. Cross-addicts tend to go back-and-forth between addictions. However, these individuals only focus on one addiction at a time. For example, a cross-addict may watch porn for hours every day for months only to suddenly stop watching porn, in favor of using drugs.

More specifically, a cross-addict may turn to drugs as a “replacement” for porn. Once the cross-addict stops his or her “porn use,” he or she is “forced” to confront painful or unpleasant experiences and/or emotions, leading to discomfort. Instead of confronting these feelings, a cross-addict will simply replace porn with drugs (i.e., cocaine, heroin, etc.).

On the flip side, when a person has co-occurring addictions (i.e., porn addiction and drug addiction), he or she is grappling with multiple addictions – at the same time. This addict has linked the two addictions (i.e., porn addiction and drug addiction) together in his or her mind, and as a result, may feel like he or she must do both activities (i.e., watching porn and doing drugs) simultaneously to experience the desired effects – i.e., happiness, euphoria, sexual satisfaction, etc.

Is Porn Addiction Similar to Drug Addiction?

Yes, it is.

According to researchers, genetic and biological factors are linked to both porn addiction and drug addiction. More specifically, brain structure and function changes, along with psychological characteristics, like emotional responsiveness, can elevate your risk of porn addiction and drug addiction. This risk is especially high if one or more of your parents is or was a “heavy porn user” or porn addict and drug abuser or drug addict. However, a parent with any addiction can increase the risk of developing one or more addictions.

Porn and drug addictions are similar because they both trigger changes in your brain’s reward system, prompting an uptick in your body’s production of dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters responsible for transmitting messages throughout your brain and body. Drugs and porn can activate this reward system. However, once you experience the pleasurable effects of porn and drugs, your dopamine and serotonin levels significantly and suddenly drop, possibly triggering depression and/or anxiety.

Like drug abuse or drug addiction, “porn use” or porn addiction can cause some regions in your brain to become less reactive, leading to a loss of grey matter in these areas. This can cause other brain regions to become overactive, possibly triggering drug and porn withdrawal symptoms, such as mood swings, anxiety, depression, etc.

What is the Relationship Between Porn and Drug Abuse?

According to a 2018 study, in 2017, over 8 million people suffered from co-occurring addictions, like porn addiction and drug addiction. Believe it or not, it is common for addicts to struggle with more than one addiction.

But, why does this happen?

Well, listed below are the most common reasons why some people suffer from two or more addictions (like porn addiction and drug addiction) simultaneously:

  • Disinhibiting

    Disinhibiting refers to using one addiction (porn addiction) to reduce urges to engage in another addiction (drug addiction). For instance, a person, who abuses heroin daily to feel more at ease, while watching porn, is disinhibiting.

  • Merging

    Merging involves using one addiction (porn addiction) to enhance another addiction (drug addiction). For instance, when an addict uses drugs to magnify his or her “porn experience” (i.e., to intensify the sensations and boost his or her stamina and endurance), he or she is merging the two addictions. In this case, the addict feels as if he or she is unable to engage in one addiction (porn addiction) without the other one (drug addiction). Thus, the addict feels as if he or she must partake in both conditions – at the same time to receive relief.

  • Numbing

    Truth be told, most porn addicts do not find sex with their real-life partners particularly satisfying. The release of certain brain chemicals compels them to participate in risky sexual activities like excessively watching porn – to feel gratified. However, once the euphoric effects of their “porn use” wear off, porn addicts tend to feel remorseful, guilty, and/or ashamed of their actions. When this occurs, some porn addicts turn to drugs to self-soothe. These individuals are numbing the loss of effects from their “porn use” with drugs.

  • Disguising

    Some addicts use one addiction (porn addiction) to mask another one (drug addiction). For instance, an addict may seek porn addiction treatment for his or her “heavy porn use” without acknowledging or addressing his or her drug habit. In this case, the addict is disguising one of the addictions by focusing on the other one.

  • Blocking and Replacing

    When an addict views one addiction as the “lesser of two evils,” this is referred to as blocking. In other words, the addict blocks out one addiction (drug addiction) by focusing on the one he or she finds “the least harmful” (porn addiction). Ultimately, the addict replaces one addiction (drug addiction) with another addiction (porn addiction).

    For instance, an addict may decide that his or her porn addiction is “less harmful” or “less bad” than his or her drug addiction, prompting him or her to substitute porn for drugs.

    So, instead of doing drugs, an addict watches porn. Although the addict may think he or she is stopping one of his or her addictions, he or she is actually making both addictions worse. Ignoring an addiction will only intensify it. The porn addiction and drug addiction will escalate without the proper porn addiction help and drug abuse treatment.

What Is It Like to Have a Porn Addiction and a Drug Addiction?

Excessively watching porn can make some addicts feel embarrassed or ashamed of their behavior. For some religious porn addicts, feelings of shame and guilt are intensified by their religious beliefs, faith, values, and morals. These individuals tend to be conflicted when it comes to using porn and following the tenets of their religions.

Other porn addicts internalize unhealthy views of sex and romantic relationships, which not only prompts them to continue their porn-watching activities, but also causes them to feel “dirty,” “bad,” and/or “immoral” before, during, and/or after using porn. It is common for religious and non-religious porn addicts to wonder what their “porn use” says about them as people. For instance, “Does porn addiction mean that I am a “bad” person?” “Or, does it mean that I am mentally ill?”

Some porn addicts mitigate these upsetting thoughts and feelings by using drugs while watching porn. The drugs take the “edge off” of the porn-watching, so they do not feel guilty or ashamed of their behavior. More specifically, the drugs reduce the anxiety and fear that some addicts experience while watching porn.

Other addicts combine porn and drugs to boost sexual sensations and satisfaction while viewing porn. Drugs not only lead to ecstasy and happiness but also an amplified sensory response that boosts sexual satisfaction. The porn/drugs combination can be so exhilarating that it prevents you from being fully aware of other things – i.e., household tasks, parenting responsibilities, work requirements, friendships, relationships, etc.

Thus, if you are overwhelmed, stressed, and/or traumatized, you are at risk of developing co-occurring addictions involving porn and drugs. Drugs can also suppress your ability to avoid or resist temptation – porn. And, increase the probability that you will keep returning to this porn/drug combination, elevating your risk of co-occurring porn and drug addictions.

Drug addiction can also reduce the effectiveness of some porn addiction treatments. Most porn addiction treatments typically center on improving your self-awareness and identifying your true emotions, which, for addicts is hard to do – when drugs are involved. Lastly, a drug/porn combination can place you at risk of experiencing social, personal, financial, work, and relationship issues. And, co-occurring porn and drug addictions can lead to depression and/or anxiety.

What Do the Statistics Say?

The statistics say a lot…

Approximately 9% of adults in the U.S. (25 million American adults) abuse illegal drugs every month. Approximately 40 million American adults view porn each month. And, approximately 9 million adults in the U.S. struggle with substance abuse disorder. Even more distressing is the fact that nearly 9% of regular porn-watchers (approximately three million people) are unable to stop using porn. And, about 50% of American families believe that porn is a real problem in their homes. Researchers also suggest that between one-third and two-thirds of porn addicts will develop a drug addiction at some point in their lives.

How Are Co-Occurring Conditions like Porn Addiction and Drug Addiction Normally Treated?

Because porn and drugs behave similarly in the body, porn addiction and drug addiction can be treated together. In other words, treatment for porn addiction may be beneficial for drug addiction, and drug addiction treatments may be beneficial for porn addiction. One of the most common treatment approaches for both addictions is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), family therapy, couples or marriage therapy, individual therapy, addiction therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and/or group treatment.

Self-help tools, such as hypnosis, lifestyle changes, and/or online porn recovery programs can help you get a grasp on your porn addiction and drug addiction. And, support groups can help you recover from both addictions (porn addiction and drug addiction). Porn addiction support groups can help you better understand porn addiction, so you can determine the origin of your addiction and identify your triggers.

Common porn support groups are Captive Free, Sexaholics Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, etc. Drug abuse or addiction support groups may include Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Nar-Anon (Al-Anon for Drugs), Co-Dependents Anonymous, Families Anonymous, etc.

Studies indicate that when people have more than one behavioral addiction (dual disorders), treating them simultaneously (at the same time) in a multi-treatment approach is more effective, than treating each addiction separately (one at a time). However, both approaches are commonly used when treating co-occurring addictions.

What is Prognosis?

When multiple addictions are present, recovery is more challenging.

When porn addiction and drug addiction occur together, both addictions must be properly addressed and treated for long-term recovery to occur. Treatment must involve identifying the origin of the addictive behaviors.

Intensive therapy (sometimes involving inpatient rehab treatment) is usually required for both addictions (porn addiction and drug addiction), primarily because the risk of relapsing increases when multiple addictions are involved. It is also important to avoid your porn and drug triggers.

For instance, a porn addict, who also abuses cocaine, will need to avoid triggers (i.e., boredom, emotional distress, a sexy advertisement, a trip to a strip club, etc.) linked to his or her “porn habit” and those linked to his or her “cocaine habit,” (i.e., friends who sell or use cocaine, frequenting places where you used to purchase or use cocaine, emotional distress, boredom, pictures of drugs, shame or guilt at viewing porn, etc.).

Keep in mind that one addiction relapse (i.e., porn addiction) will likely lead to a relapse with the other addiction (i.e., drug addiction). Thus, to become and remain “porn-free,” you must also treat your drug problem.

So, you must first identify your triggers, and then develop a plan that helps you circumvent them. This plan may include picking new places to hangout, moving your electronic devices out into the open, telling someone about your addictions, attending therapy sessions, going to support group meetings, learning and practicing relaxation techniques (i.e., deep breathing, books, apps, yoga, meditation, etc.), making positive lifestyle changes, engaging in self-help tools, etc.

***With proper porn addiction help and drug abuse treatment, the prognosis for recovery is good.

What Self-Help Tools Can Help Me Combat My Co-Occurring Porn and Drug Addictions?

A variety of self-help tools can help “cure” your porn and drug addictions.

These tools may include changing your friend circle (i.e., making new friends), attending a class, developing a hobby, staying away from the places where you used to “score” drugs, eating healthier foods, practicing stress-management/relaxation exercises, and/or investing in a porn addiction recovery program, like Stop Together.

Stop Together is an online porn recovery program that provides you with the tools needed to successfully combat your co-occurring porn and drug addictions. Stop Together offers a lifetime of porn addiction support, resources, and encouragement – all the things you need to fully recover from your porn addiction and drug addiction.