While each youth who seeks treatment for pornography addiction is unique, generally speaking we can characterize these young people in the three following ways:
1. Most youth we work with are raised with strong moral and family values. They have been taught to avoid pornography and have been raised with a belief that sexual activity should not occur during adolescence, but rather later in life as a married adult. Because of this belief system, the formation of a pornography addiction during adolescence creates internal conflict because pornography use contradicts the moral values that have been a part of their upbringing. In turn this creates a sense of shame, guilt, fear, anxiety and depression. The reality is that there are many young people who regularly use pornography, but simply do not view it as a problem or issue, and as a result, see no need to get help or even stop viewing. Many of these youth do not adhere to the same moral standards as the youth who seek treatment. While pornography is obviously a moral issue, the more that we learn about the impact of pornography on the brain, human behavior and development, the more it becomes apparent that pornography addiction among youth is a developmental issue and not simply a moral issue. We also are finding that even those who don’t adhere to high standards of morality also experience significant negative ramifications later in their adult years from pornography addiction including divorce, depression and sexual dysfunction.
2. Most youth we work with have unsuccessfully attempted to stop viewing pornography multiple times on their own and have come to realize that they can’t break the addiction on their own and need help. It is rare when we have a youth seek treatment who hasn’t already tried to break the addiction on their own. The youth who seek treatment for pornography addiction have come to fully realize that it a real addiction and that left on their own, they are simply unable to kick the habit. This realization becomes a primary motivator for their seeking help to overcome the addiction.
3. Most youth we work with are highly motivated to be successful in their lives and view their habitual use of pornography as an impediment to achieving their goals and personal potential. Pornography addiction treatment tends to be a service that only those who are truly concerned about self-actualization pursue. As a result, many of the youth we work with in our pornography addiction treatment programs are actually functioning fairly well in most areas of their lives. Most are law abiding citizens, respectful, kind and thoughtful, excellent students with good grades and actively striving to improve themselves. Were it not for their pornography addiction, we would not likely see these youth in our treatment clinic. We encounter youth who seek treatment for other issues such as substance abuse or mental health issues that are also regularly using pornography; however, these youth are not concerned about their use of pornography and don’t believe that the use of pornography is an issue that needs to be addressed in a treatment setting.