This week we had the privilege of hosting our first parent night for our YouthSTAR program. The lesson was on how pornography use changes and harms the teenage brain. We featured this insightful video by a highly knowledgeable neurosurgeon, Dr Donald L Hilton, Jr.:
In this video, Dr Hilton talked about the damaging effects of pornography addiction on the brain, based on the research. He shared about the conclusive results of four studies: 1) A cocaine study, 2) A methamphetamine study, 3) An overeating leading to obesity study, and 4) A sexual addiction study. He talked about “these four different studies done in four different scientific institutions and published in four different scientific journals, all showing the same thing: that this frontal area, this brake of the brain, actually shrinks with addiction – whether to a chemical or a behavior“. Excessive pornography use results in this same kind of harm to the pre-frontal cortex region of the brain, leading to many detrimental effects, including compulsivity, impulsivity, and impaired judgment. These neurological consequences of sexual addiction impact all people, not just teenagers.
Scan of Brain on Pornography:
As therapists who work with addicted teens, there is no doubt that pornography is like a drug. We see the effects of this addiction when they try repeatedly to stop using pornography and experience repeated failure, despite many harmful consequences. These failed efforts are less surprising when we consider Dr Patrick Carnes’ assertion that recovering from sexual addiction is more difficult than recovering from substance related addictions. As more research is released on this topic, it confirms what we know in practice:
1) Excessive pornography use is addictive
2) Excessive pornography use damages the brain
3) Those who are addicted cannot stop their addiction without help
We at YouthSTAR of the Central Valley are grateful for the opportunity to be a source of hope and help. We will continue providing relevant information to youth and parents on the topic of pornography addiction. Please follow our blog for additional resources and call us if your teenager is compulsively or excessively using pornography and you are ready to seek help. Click HERE for more information on our YouthSTAR program. We also provide services for adult addicts and partners in our LifeSTAR program.
For an in-depth look at the neuroscience of pornography addiction, here’s a great, yet technical, article by Dr Hilton: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3050060/
See also – “Brain structure and functional connectivity associated with pornography consumption: the brain on porn.” Kuhn & Gallinat, 2014 – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24871202
A helpful resource that informs teenagers about the harmful effects of pornography use is Fight the New Drug.
-Written by Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, MFT Intern, author of Safeguarding Children From Addiction: An Attachment Disorder and Protecting Children from the Path of Pornography (faith-based)