Dear Thelma: I became addicted to porn during lockdown, now I can't stop


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Dear Thelma,

I am a 13-year-old boy who has been addicted to watching pornographic videos during the lockdown that caused me so much stress that it made me do wrong things.

My family knows about it and tried to help me stop the habit but it doesn't work.

I tried to force myself to tell my family and even friends about it, and asked them to help me but I just don't trust them, I don't know why. My sister told me once to try to stop it but it doesn't work. Now I don't want to talk about it to anyone, including a counsellor.

I believe there are two sides to myself – good and bad. The bad one tries to overpower me but my good side tries to stop it.

The addiction has gone to another level, whereby I feel like having intercourse with someone. I just want someone to help me with it by spending time with me but I don't think this will work.

I hope there is another, better, solution.

Addicted


From your letter, you've became addicted to porn during the 2020-2022 lockdown, so you were consuming adult materials at the age of 11 and 12. While a child can come across porn by accident, it takes effort to watch by habit.

You write as if this is your issue alone but given that fact, I suggest this arises from a parenting fail. What on earth were the adults in the house doing? Don't they make sure you're safe? How come this wasn't nipped in the bud instantly?

You are a child, your parents' job is to guide you, and this is not happening. You are suffering serious harm. Frankly, your parents need lessons in parenting. Therefore, I strongly suggest they go for counselling.

Of course, you need help too. What you describe is a typical addiction experience.

Children see adult materials, become interested, learn about simple physical pleasure and then find themselves fascinated. What starts off as a casual activity, becomes daily. Then twice daily.

Without guidance, the search for quick pleasure dominates. Before long, they stop all other activities, from studying to playing games. All their mind is focused on the quick pleasure.

However, the body and mind tend to adapt to that flood of pleasure. This is called tolerance. After a while, that simple pleasure just doesn't have as much kick. Something more exciting is needed. That's when people start escalating.

So, this is how your experience turned into a habit and then a compulsion and why it's now no longer enough.

From your letter, you feel shame. It might come from having a habit that's taking over your life. However, I suspect that it's also because your addiction is sexual.

With respect: People become addicted to chocolate, exercise, and all kinds of other fun things. So please see this as an addiction issue, a temporary condition, and not a judgement on who you are. It might as easily have been an obsession with going fast on bikes or eating ice cream, OK?

As for "just quitting" or "willpower", please know that's nonsense. If quitting were really a matter of willpower, then smokers, people with food addiction and other issues would simply stop.

Truth: People don't want to be addicted. They know it's ruining their lives. They want to stop. But it's simply not possible to "just quit".

So please get proper help. That means talking to a professional who specialises in dealing with addiction.

There are several useful approaches to help you recover, but if you don't know where to start, look for someone who uses Cognitive Behaviourial Therapy and who has experience in helping addicts to recover.

Your mental health professional will help you understand your thinking and guide you into healthier behaviour. Your parents will have to help too, because you'll need lots of support.

It won't be an instant fix, expect it to take some time, and expect to have a few setbacks. Learning curves are slippery!

Although it will be a struggle, know that many others have overcome this issue. You can change your habits and be who you want to be. Just reach out. You deserve to be happy.

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Addiction , pornography , parenting

   

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