Pornography Addiction And
Effective Youth Ministry

Increase in pornography addiction has ballooned among children and adolescents with the privacy and high speed access that the internet provides.

Teenage addiction to alcohol, tobacco and marijuana are well known problems and there are many secular programs to deal with teens and addiction. Though pornography addiction treatment has yet to catch up with child and adolescent sex issues.

However, addiction of teens to pornography, in both boys and girls, and even preteens, is a problem gone viral that youth ministry programs need to address meaningfully.

Because all active addictions prevent the minister from doing effective ministry with that person.

And as you will see below...pornography addiction is not a moral problem.

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What is pornography addiction?

First, it is not primarily a moral problem once an addiction is in full bloom. That, of course, does not mean addicts are not held responsibile for any of their unlawful actions. Addicts may be acting with reduced ability to make moral choices, but the public has to be protected from actions that would harm the innocent. When addiction is operable and in place...it is a medical problem that uses food, sex, drugs, images, etc. to increase the amount of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the pleasure centers of the brain.

If a person increases the amount of dopamine with newer and more intense stimuli (images...etc.) they can increase their pleasure.

The person becomes addicted to the increased dopamine by using constantly changing sexual images to get the "rush". The same image used repeatedly causes the person to adapt to the new level of dopamine. And so new images (like higher doses of heroin in heroin addicts) have to be constantly sought to increase the dopamine level to produce the "rush".

So the addict is addicted to a feeling and has a method of choice to produce the feeling...visual and auditory sexual images, music, heroin, gin, etc.



How does addiction differ from compulsion?

Addictions to substances seek to increase pleasureable feelings

.

Compulsive behaviors are rituals, not substances, that seek to decrease unwanted feelings like guilt or anxiety.

Pornography addiction is actually an addiction to the substance dopamine. And like all addictive substances it must be constantly increased to maintain the desired level of pleasure.

Compulsive ritualistic behavior must be increased to prevent experiencing the unwanted feeling.

You have to diagnose these conditions accurately, and not confuse one for the other, in order to treat them successfully.

Though both addictions and compulsions have the same result of interfering with normal living, they have different goals and different strategies for attaining the desired goal: on one hand, increased pleasureable feeling...on the other hand, decreased unpleasureable feeling.



Mikey's experience with pornography addiction

Twelve year old Mikey, discovered he was entering puberty when, to his great embarassment, his voice cracked as he was answering a teacher one day in class. He was a good student. He had many friends. And the girls thought he was 'cute' and pursued him though calls and texting.

But that day, they laughed uproariously at him and Mikey felt humiliated. He was not used to being laughed at.

So...he told his mother what happened and made excuses to withdraw somewhat from his usual after school pursuits. and spend a few afternoons alone in his room at the computer.

Mikey doesn't remember what he typed into the search engine seeking anonymous supportive company, he thinks it was something like "life sucks". But within a short time he accidentally arrived at a pornography website. And, as they say, the rest is history.

His mother noticed that instead of feeling better, Mikey wanted to spend every afternoon alone in his room. She noticed dark circles around his eyes in the morning. She thought he was becoming ill over the incident at school. He was becoming ill...from his addiction to dopamine.

Mikey spent much of the night masturbating to pornographic images.

His adolescent psychosexual development would not take place in the social context of his peer group where sexuality is linked to other pleasurable experiences...like falling in love for the first time.

Mikey's sexual activity would be divorced from love, companionship, and interpersonal skill development in getting his need for sexual integration met. That is not a good way to enter adulthood.

Mikey was in love with dopamine. Just as a heroin addict's eyes will light up with anticipation, Mikey, feeling physically worse and worse, would spend any private time he could with the images that produced the pleasures of dopamine in his body.

The psychological, emotional and social effects of pornograpy isolating a boy from his peers were exactly the same as if he had been drawn into a sexual abuse relationship with an adult.

Mikey became a self-sexual-abuser.


Youth ministry is mostly concerned with activities for teenagers in some religious organization.

And one of the effects of child abuse is poor teenage socialization to group rules. Conformity to group standards is the way teenagers acquire effective social skills which are crucial for adjustment to normal adult lifeÂ…including working for a living, and having normal sexual involvement and expression.

Counseling teen addiction problems is not a ministry in itself, but only a support activity that, if successful, may make it possible to bring the teenager closer to God (which is the purpose of all ministry).

But support activities such as counseling are necessary because grace works with nature, not in spite of it. And before a minister can help someone get closer to God, nature has to be up and running for grace to be effective.

You can go from this pornography addiction page to christian youth ministry. But better than that...give us your views on...

How do you minister to
a Pornography Addict?

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