PORN ADDICTION IN ADOLESCENCE

While it may be perfectly normal and healthy for teenagers to develop curiosity in their sexuality, changing times have brought with them alarming statistics addressing teens hooked on pornography. Thanks to the internet and cable television, there is a huge collection of pornographic images available for unrestricted viewing by adults as well as teenagers.

In the past, young people could not easily access pornographic materials unless they went an extra mile to scavenge from trash or access hidden adult collections. Today, they don’t have to expend any effort searching -it is all overly accessible. Even children armed with only rudimentary computer skills can unlock the floodgates to a barrage of X-rated images. It takes only a couple of mouse clicks to gain access.

Most unfortunately teens are inundated with a barrage of sexual stimuli before their capacity to integrate such materials into their sexual identity is fully developed. Thinking about it, much of the teen pornography issues reflect the broader social reality and the fact that pornography has officially gone mainstream.

Internet pornography addiction can develop even more easily than a drug or alcohol addiction because it engages the most sensitive sense we have, our eyes; and it’s readily available in unlimited quantities. It’s even more addictive than drug addictions because the images are directly stored in the memory and imagination which remain long after viewing Internet pornography, altering the structure and function of the brain.

HOW PORN ADDICTION CAUSES LONG TERM HARM

Teens with so much exposure to pornography are likely getting their earliest sexual experiences this way. Instead of learning about sexuality in real situations, they are gleaning it from the screen and the fantasy world of porn. It gives these young people a distorted idea of what sex, intimacy and love are really like in real-world relationships. This can cause problems in relationships as the teens become adults. The way in which teens view modern pornography is even more damaging than in the past because it is available online instantly. It’s more isolating and can lead more quickly to obsession and addiction. Teens who get obsessed with online porn may feel lonely, ashamed and confused. The intensity of most online porn leads to addiction more readily than old-fashioned print or video materials. While boys are most often the victims of porn addiction, teen girls can fall prey to it as well. For teens, pornography addiction programs offer a way to get help and to repair the damage done by pornographic materials.

Unfortunately, with the explosion of pornography on the internet, sexual addiction is on the rise. Some researchers of sex addiction claim that internet sex is the “crack cocaine” for the addiction. This makes sexual addiction a difficult battle to fight with all of the sexual stimulation one could desire at the tip of their fingertips.

There is no one reason as to why someone develops a sexual addiction. There are several theories but the most common ones appear to be:

Psychological – Often associated with OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), bipolar disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, etc.

Biological – The intoxication of the sexual release is believed to create a change in brain chemicals. The neuro-pathways to the brain’s reward centre for drug abuse and sexual addiction are very common.

Social – Frequently have low self-worth, insecurity, difficulty coping with painful emotions, may have been sexually abused, etc.

HOW TO OVERCOME AN ADDICTION TO PORN AS A TEENAGER

Identify your symptoms.

Is your use of porn relatively normal or getting into serious addiction territory? Look for these signs and symptoms to get a clearer sense of how much porn dominates your everyday life:

  • You cannot stop watching porn or doing behaviours associated with porn, despite attempting to leave them behind.
  • You feel angry or irritable if you are asked to stop using porn (even when you ask yourself).
  • You keep all or part of your porn use secret from family and friends.
  • You feel like you lead a double life because of your hidden porn use.
  • You continue to view porn despite negative consequences, such as suffering relationships or trouble in school.
  • You have lost track of large chunks of time because you’ve been absorbed in porn use.


Learn the unexamined effects of porn addiction.

To better understand what you’re going through, learn what could be at stake. It can be easy to convince yourself that everybody watches porn and that maybe you don’t have a problem after all. Knowing the following potential effects of porn addiction shows you the real dangers of the problem;

  • Broken or troubled intimate relationships
  •  Difficulty staying interested in relationships and dating prospects
  •  Feelings of shame and/or guilt
  • Problems with work or school, like dropping grades
  • High risk of engaging in dangerous or unhealthy sexual activity, with an increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases
  • Eventual inability to become aroused in non-pornographic situations

Learn your triggers. 

A trigger is anything that makes you feel like you want to watch porn. A trigger could be a certain moment in your routine, like getting ready to go to sleep, or it could be a pop-up ad of a scantily clad actor. Knowing your triggers is important because you will learn when to ramp up your efforts not to watch. You can then replace watching with something that will successfully divert your attention until the urge goes away on its own.

  • For example, if you see an ad that makes you want to watch porn, train yourself to play a round of your favourite video game instead. You may not be able to avoid the ad entirely, but you can begin to replace porn with a less harmful habit.
  • After a while you may not need to take such strong efforts to avoid certain triggers or rigidly replace porn watching with the same alternative behaviour every time. When you’re trying to kick the habit initially, though, be very diligent about diverting yourself in moments of temptation.
  • there are triggers you can avoid entirely; you may want to do so. This could make the initial decrease in use easier. Just be careful that you don’t spend so much time avoiding, say, certain music or friends that get you in the mood to watch. If you try to let these triggers back into your life after intense avoidance of them, you run the risk of relapsing into porn use.

Slowly decrease use over time. 

As an alternative to stopping “cold turkey”, you might decide to ease yourself into less or no porn use. Make goals for certain periods of time based on whether you want to stop watching altogether or become a more moderate viewer. Doing this will help the transition happen more smoothly, as you will only have to take on small behavioural challenges at a comfortable pace. For example, say your goal is to watch only 3 times per week. You could begin by cutting your use down to once a day at the times when you most want to watch, like before going to sleep.

Set your environment straight.

There are many things you can do to make sure that your environment is set up such that porn use becomes more difficult and less of a temptation. Start with your computer itself, or your phone if you also watch on that device.

  • Clean up your computer by removing viruses and malware that give you lots of pornographic ads and pop-ups. Remember to also remove any files you have stored.
  • Try eliminating the privacy that normally encourages you to watch by moving your whole computer set up to a common area of your home. This may only be a temporary measure as you are getting used to less porn. Your family might be surprised, but will understand if you let them know that you are attempting to limit your time isolated in your room.
  • Avoid being with friends who share and encourage extreme use of porn.


Track your progress. 

Remember to give yourself enough praise and acknowledgment to feel supported and energized in the difficult times. Since overcoming addiction takes lots of time, effort, and usually slip-ups, getting an objective look at how far you’ve come will stop you from beating yourself up over moments of struggle.

  • Try monitoring your usage with the same browser extension that you use to put controls on your access to porn.

PARENTAL GUIDE: HOW TO APPROACH YOUR TEENAGER

Express how you care about them and want the best for them. Let them know what you think they might be feeling (shame, fear, anger) and acknowledge that you “get that” and it makes sense. Reassure them you aren’t judging them and are willing to walk with them in their experience.

Listen, listen, listen if they are talking! When appropriate, move to explain the myth of pornography – that is normal that they would enjoy it, and that you disagree with their continued use of it and why. Your values should be communicated, as should the support you will give to your teen. The safer you become, the more they are likely to share.

If you suspect something, follow the same steps as above. Start by initiating a conversation about porn from a sexually exploitative viewpoint, don’t be condescending, fake or make accusations. Do, however, get to a pornography discussion. They will more likely respect straight talk!

Key points to remember with teens in general:

  • Start an ongoing, age-appropriate conversation about sex early. The child is more likely to be responsive and find you safe. Teach them. It is your responsibility as a parent.
  • Place boundaries and safeguards. Explain them as appropriate.
  • Make space for hard conversations when you least want them – and when they most want them!
  • Connect with your teen in other ways. This is critical.
  • Talk about sex and process your struggles with your partner. You need to know where you stand and have strong starting place.
  • Get expert help if you need it.
  • “Un-shame” them. Normalize sexuality and help them make sense of it all.
  • Do not ignore your gut feelings on these issues.

Addictions like these in adolescence can hinder the upcoming life a teen would create, as said, this would organise a distorted image of what intimacy, love and sex are in real life. This addiction is totally treatable and should be brought under control as soon after witnessing symptoms. Life is too short to be indulged in these habits which can destroy relationships, marriages and your point of view on sexuality. If you think that you’re trapped in the vicious cycle of addiction then telling a loved one to seek help or seeking therapy wouldn’t be a bad option.

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