We have discovered our teen is addicted to porn. What should we do?

By Matt Bulkley | Addiction Treatment

We have discovered that our teen son has been viewing internet pornography on his I-phone and on our home computer. It appears that this has been a pattern over the past several months. We need to know how to deal with this. Upon confronting him, a big argument ensued and he denies that he has a problem. What advice do you have for us?

Unfortunately, teen pornography addiction is quickly becoming a big problem in our society due to the ease of access to pornography and the addictive nature of today‚Äôs internet porn. The addiction affects individuals across the board–men and women, boys and girls, rich, poor, religious, non-religious, etc. Teens however are particularly vulnerable because they are in a stage of sexual development where curiosity about sex is strong. Additionally, their brains have yet to be exposed to the euphoria that is created by pornography.

Porn is powerful because it provides an immediate, private, and easily accessed “high,” changing the reward pathways of the brain. Its use has a drug-like effect on the body and brain. It stimulates reward and pleasure centers of the brain instantly and dramatically, increasing the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with both sexual arousal and drug highs. Pornography and cybersex can also lead to “process addiction” in which the teen becomes addicted to a process or a series of behaviors that in turn alter brain chemistry. Eventually, the teen can no longer control his urge to view porn, is aroused only by images and normal sexual responsiveness is diminished. Cyber-sexual addiction has the potential of severely stagnating the emotional, psychological neurological sexual and relational well-being of a teen.

Parents should be proactive in screening the internet in their home through the use of an internet filter such as Covenant Eyes or Net Nanny. Additionally, parents should not be hesitant to take away computer, internet and smartphone privileges. Addicted teens are often unable to manage having access to the internet without relapsing back into viewing porn.

The good news for parents is that effective help for teens addicted to porn is available. You will need to seek professional therapy for your teen as most are unable to break the addiction on their own. The most successful course of treatment involves both the teen and the parents participating in therapy sessions. Effective treatment programs for teen porn addiction include intensive therapy in the form of outpatient individual and group therapy or a short-term intensive experiential treatment program such as a wilderness therapy program. Disrupting the pattern of addiction is step 1 and then following up with on-going support in the form of on-going therapy in the form of addiction recovery treatment.

Listed below are additional resources that may be helpful in your search to find help for your teenager in assisting him of breaking free from sexual addiction.

www.ypacenter.com

www.starguideswilderness.com

www.familybootcamp.org

www.mendingthearmor.com

www.starguides.net

About the Author

Matt is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been working in the field of youth treatment and psychotherapy since 1995. He did his undergraduate work at BYU and earned his M.S.W. at the University of Utah. He has worked in a variety of treatment setting in his career ranging from wilderness therapy and residential treatment to outpatient treatment and state government.

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