Comparing a Behavioral and Chemical Addiction on the Example of Alcohol and Pornography


Addiction is a continuous urge for something that the body and mind cannot function normally without it. Addiction can be in form of behavioral or chemical addiction. Both alcoholic and pornography addicts are emotionally attached to their addiction and their recommended treatment would be therapy. Many would despite therapy, but as the studies reveal, it’s the first step towards treatment before any medication can be administered. In this research, I will examine two alcoholic treatments therapies of both inpatient and outpatient addicts to assess the consequences of the abuse and monitor the effectiveness of the provided treatment therapies.


Addiction is a state in which an individual’s body system is completely under the influence of a substance or behavioral addiction which interferes with its normal functioning. An example of behavioral addiction is pornography. When a person gradually becomes addicted, it may be hard to live without the substances or the behavioral addiction as their lives may be rendered joyless without them. In my literature review, I will examine the consequences of alcoholism and pornography, their physical and mental effects on the addict’s health, and the success of the available recommended treatments (Naken, 1996, p.2; Segal, 2009).

Literature Review

Alcohol addiction is woven into the social fabric of our culture and society. People enjoy the cultural connection of sharing a drink without caring about the long terms effects it may bring about. Consequences of alcohol abuse vary from a person to another depending on the physical, psychological, and mental ability of the abuser. Alcoholism has adverse effects on the abuser’s health, society and loved ones. It accounts for the thousands of lives lost every year. Alcoholism may lead a person in developing brain disease which is irreversible and hard to control (Doweiko, 2008: Segal, 2009).

Signs of alcoholism

Alcohol abusers may show signs such as;

  1. slurred speech, may suddenly become clumsy and act harebrained when intoxicated
  2. they often experience blackouts
  3. complain of stomach upset
  4. sudden weight loss
  5. their face may suddenly turn red, and
  6. numbness of the joints especially the feet and the hands.

When a person misses their regular alcohol dosage, they start developing withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, sweating, nausea, and vomiting which can be relieved with treatment therapies. Severe cases of alcoholism may result in the development of mental problems such as hallucinations and seizures, increases irritability, anger and agitation (Segal, 2009, online).

It may not be easy to tell if someone is an alcoholic especially if the above-mentioned signs are not quite evident. Teenagers for instance may display changes in their appearance, behavior, become isolated, signs parents should look out for. For adults, it might be challenging to detect but obvious signs such as clumsiness, confusion, and unsteadiness should be looked out for.

Causes of alcoholism

Alcoholism can be generated from a family history of addiction. The relationship between genetics and environment is not quite clear however researchers reveal that alcoholism can be passed on from addicted family members to children. People with such a history of alcoholism are at higher risks of being alcoholics later in life. If an addict is mentally ill, alcoholism may worsen the symptoms, and may be hard to tell if the person is getting better or worse.

Peer pressure is also a contributing factor to alcoholism. If people around us drink so heavily, it’s easy to be lured into the habits. Social events with alcohol pressures people into drinking and this is when the addition streams in. When stressful situations occur without any coping skills, people may resort to alcoholism as a scapegoat.

Alcoholism affects a person’s health, financial and drinking stability. A person in denial may have difficulties getting any help. An addict may expose their body to serious health conditions such as heart and liver diseases, birth defects, erectile dysfunctions for male victims, and nutritional deficiencies as some people may not keep up with healthy eating habits thereby their vital organs such as the liver and the brain. Mentally, an addict may start developing withdrawal symptoms such as hallucinations, convulsions, fear and severe anxiety. Infants who bone out of addict mothers may develop fetal alcohol syndrome which could lead to mental retardation and other irreversible physical abnormalities which are impossible to cure (Segal, 2009, online).

Alcohol abusers sometimes deny having an alcohol problem and often find ways to justify more drinking. In the early stages of alcohol consumption, a person underestimates the quantity of alcohol they can consume and how much money it will cost them until it grows into addiction. After that, they often spend so much time away from their daily responsibilities. Family relationships and jobs may be lost as a result of this addiction (Segal, 2009, online).

Pornography Addiction

Pornography materials can easily be found in magazines and videos. The advent of technology has given rise to a new and powerful pornography media known as the internet. There are a variety of sexual images in the internet pornography addicts may want to engage in such as online viewing my watching still photographs, watching porn films, engaging in webcam sex or meeting anonymous sexual partners to satisfy their addiction with whoever is willing to provide it online. Some individuals pay up for online prostitution while others voluntarily show up to engage in such activities. Pornography addicts replace important relationships and commitments with pornography (SRI, 2009).

Other pornography medium includes adult book stores and strip clubs. These individuals have consistence and compulsive sexual urge that develops into problems that can easily appear in a variety of settings. Pornography addicts isolate themselves when carrying out their profound hobby. Pornography addiction carries moral stigma and partners of these addicts often suffer the negative consequences more than the addicts themselves. Some addicts use masturbation to relieve their sexual urges or sometimes as an act with the other person online. The ones in anonymous relationships may perform the sexual act itself (SRI, 2009).

Signs of Pornography addiction

Pornography often shows signs of addiction such as a) anger and irritability b) continuing with the behavior despite the awaiting consequences such as loss of relationships and jobs c) loss of time d) inability to stop the behavior (SRI, 2009).

Comparison of Alcoholism and Pornography Addiction

Addiction mostly affects the abuser’s family. Alcoholic parents are more likely to pass on the addiction genes to their children whereas pornography addiction can not be passed on to generations. Children in alcoholic families are more likely to suffer physical abuse and neglect. Parents may fail to attend to the child’s basic needs since all their time and money is directed to drinking. Failed impulse control could lead to physical and emotional abuse on the spouse and children of the addicted family. Also, this could increase domestic violence as a result of uncontrolled emotions (Segal, 2009, online).

A pornography addict exposes his body to physical risks such as masturbation which could affect their normal body functioning and relationships. The family of a pornography addict may not directly be affected as much as the alcoholic family does. The most affected people are and the children. In alcohol addiction, children are more likely to suffer physical abuse as compared to a pornography family.

Pornography addicts often experience problems developing and maintaining positive and healthy relationships just like alcoholic victims. In a marriage or committed relation, for example, pornography may be seen as an act of cheating and once the partner discovers the habit, a trust may be severely damaged and sexual relationships may become difficult to sustain. Both addicts of alcoholism and pornography are connected to emotions; a pornography addict distances himself emotionally from real-life activities that require commitment like relationships whereas an alcoholic victim uses alcohol to escape emotional problems such as life stresses. All these addictions are often associated with escaping emotional problems (SRI, 2009).

Alcohol addiction can be treated with medication since it reduces psychological and physical adverse effects while pornography addiction can not be treated with medication.

Since both addictions are connected to past emotional injuries, counseling through treatment programs could be the first step before any medication can be undertaken.

Pornography addicts may go on with their life without damaging their public image of normalcy and respectability while alcoholic’s self-image is tarnished and may be hard to cope with other society members leading to stigmatization. Both victims are exposed to risks of losing their jobs as a result of lateness from staying up late feeding their habits. They both affect family unions and the economy as a whole. Individuals of pornography and alcoholism require psychotherapy to be able to break through the complexities that the addiction created. Both victims suffer denial and rationalization which increases problems at work and strains relationships.

Case Studies


A case study was conducted to determine the effects of alcoholism on family relationships in the city of Minas Gerais in Brazil. The researcher pre-examined problems related to alcoholism concerning social structure, work, family, physical, legal, and risks implications such as violence before the study was conducted. The study was aimed at identifying the effects of alcoholism on family relationships. According to the results, alcoholism contributed to high levels of interpersonal conflicts between family members and society. There were increased financial and legal problems, domestic violence, parental inadequacy due to absenteeism in family activities, child abuse such as violence, and clinical problems (Reinaldo & Pillon, 2008)


This research used direct observation in examining the day-to-day lives of alcoholic addicts. The research gained prior knowledge of events, change processes, and experiences of the addicts before conducting the study. The subjects chosen were affected family members and alcohol users who at the time attended AA meetings in Minas Gerais city in Brazil.

Results of this case study were applied and evaluated to the subjects of the study to rule out the belief that case management applied to the subject of the study that permitted their social re-insertion. Data was collected through interviews, observations and transcripts of the events recorded in the researcher’s field diary and analyzed through content analysis.

Minas Gerias city was selected for the research since it contained a large part of the population characterized by economic and social inequality problems mostly contributed by high unemployment and poverty levels in the region. This has led to the increment of alcohol abuse and other substances. Distilled beverages were part of family income in the region as the study observed. The research also founded that the programs available in the area were not effectively equipped to attend to alcoholic victims. Subjects were chosen at the AA and the inclusion criteria were alcohol users who had been participating in AA for two months and the victim’s family.

They were all asked to sign a consent form. The researcher visited the family five times to try and obtain data from the participants. The researcher scheduled two interviews per individual participant for a maximum of one hour per subject. One was carried out during the start of the research while the other during the end. From the family perspective, the researcher included all family members who were living with the alcohol user (Reinaldo & Pillon, 2008, p.1).

Findings and Results

A case study was conducted on two families of alcoholic addiction for six months and their history was presented as a narrative for analysis.

In family 1; Daniel, a 42-year-old has been drinking for the last 28 years and during our interview, he confessed that his life has never been the same since he started the habit. He confessed that his life became more and more difficult since he started drinking. His wife adds that his drinking habits grew from weekends to weekdays and since he entered the AA group, his life changed drastically.

He continues that apart from transforming from alcoholism and finding himself a good job, his image of alcoholism still lingers in his neighborhood. His wife continues that Daniel caused much trouble while being alcoholic such as fighting with the neighbors, the children, and dislodged his mother at one time when his emotions were occupied with rage. The family of the victim confessed that after he joined AA, his drinking habits stopped gradually after a year of therapy. His wife continues that his relationship with his family has improved gradually; he plays more with his son. It’s also discovered that he almost died of high blood pressure because of drinking. The research concluded that Daniel needed support from his neighbors and family to prevent him from falling (Reinaldo & Pillon, 2008, p.4).

In family 2; a 36-year-old Gustavo has been drinking for 20 years and has never been involved in a steady job. His father revealed that his drinking habits did not enable him to have a steady job. He had started his AA meetings about 2 months before the research was conducted. He denies his addiction making it hard for the therapist to administer treatment. His mother points out that Gustavo looks older since he started drinking as compared to his age mates since it affected his eating habits. She continues that there were several occasions when he got late to work due to oversleeping (Reinaldo & Pillon, 2008, p.5).

The research aim in gathering family members was to sensitize Gustavo about his alcoholic problem. The AA coordinator was asked to step in and help in counseling. The researcher asked Gustavo to start a diary about all his activities including the times he drunk alcohol for two weeks for joint analysis. The diary revealed that he drunk high amounts of alcohol on eight occasions, while others were in small doses regularly.

It was discovered that all his friends drunk abusively and most of his day was spent drinking. It’s evident that his friends influenced his drinking habits. It was also discovered that his relationship with his family was affected as most of his time was spent feeding his habit and also, he had no clue of his house routine. After six months of evaluation, Gustavo’s alcohol consumption was reduced and he did not miss the AA appointments (Reinaldo & Pillon, 2008, p.5).


In Latin America, men are the sole providers of families and they are seen as breadwinners of the family. Alcoholism, therefore, crumbles family relationships, contributes to conflicts, child abuse and negligence. Financial and legal difficulties are also experienced as so Gustavo is unable to pay off his debts at the bar. Clinical problems are also evidenced by alcohol abusers as we have seen Daniel’s high blood pressure. Gustavo isolated himself from family routines; he never played with his children or participate in any family activity.

Inpatient treatment for alcoholic addicts

Nikki, a 27-year-old woman is an alcoholic addict whose family had an extensive history of alcoholism. Her drinking habits started when she was 11 years old and by 20 her drinking habits got worse. She married a man she barely knew and even got convicted of four felony theft within one year. Due to her irresponsibility, her children were taken away from her for fear of abuse. She was then admitted for inpatient treatment which consisted of two therapies; individual therapy and detoxification and group therapy. We also discover that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 12 and she never sought any treatment.

She first began medication during this treatment episode and her bipolar symptoms were relieved. Initially, the first two years’ treatments were not steady, she never committed to any detoxification center. Later in 2002, a new psychologist began working with her then recommended oral naltrexone in combination with her bipolar disorder medications.

At first, Nikki dismissed the idea of medical treatment. The therapist designed a treatment program that would relieve her from alcoholic symptoms and help her have a steady meaningful life. She began by recommending regular employment, four meetings with peers and counselors once a week, individual counseling has done once weekly and twice-weekly group in combination with her medication. Her medications were supervised for three months within her cravings for alcohol consumption lessened, she confessed.

She continues that when she craving a stroke, she would talk to her therapist in the treatment program or engage in activities that her therapist had recommended. She said that the oral naltrexone helped her continue with the lifelong process. During her medication of naltrexone, she relapsed on one occasion but did not “feel any of the high” as their effects were blocked by the medication she was undertaking.


Alcoholism treatment for inpatients was seen to be effective when the therapies were combined with medication. Within two years of treatment, the relapse symptoms were lessened since the medication blocked the effects. With these successful results, we conclude that alcoholism can effectively be treated if patients strictly adhere to treatment programs as recommended by the therapist.


In pornography, a person continues to seek new ventured of sexual entertainment to satisfy his or her urges. They graduate from image viewing to engaging in the act itself and when this continues, relationships as seen to crumble and jobs lost. These addicts should consider therapies as the first step towards their treatment and completely cooperate with treatment programs therapist for eminent results.

The first step towards the treatment should start by destroying all pornographic materials at home and work including magazines, webcams and disengage from any sexual relationships that were strung from the behavior. Recommended treatment programs we have seen in in-patient treatment program alcoholic patients are seen be yielding fruitful results but soon the patient recovers, they should consider re-building a lost relationship with their family members as this would a positive step towards full recovery.


Doweiko, H. E. (2008) (7ed.). Concepts of Chemical Dependency. Brooks Cole.

DiClemente, C. C. (2007). Alcohol dependence treatment: case studies in medication use. Addiction Professional, p.1-6.

Nakken, C. (1996). The addictive personally; Understanding the addictive process and compulsive behavior. Hazelden Publishing.

Reinaldo, M.S., & Pillon, S.C. (2008). Alcohol Effects on Family Relations; Case Study. Rev Latino-am Enfermagem, vol 16, pp. 1-6.

Segal, J. (2009). Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. HelpGuide. Web.

SRI. (2009). Pornography Addiction. Web.

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