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Utah teen shares story of pornography addiction, seeks to help others

Published: Tuesday, May 8 2012 3:55 p.m. MDT

Evidence suggests that pornography has the power to act like a drug on the brain, as powerful and addictive to users as physical drugs.

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It may not be classified as a listed addiction by the American Psychological Association, but Nathan Haug of Alpine struggled with a pornography addiction when he was younger, feeling trapped and alone.

For Haug, viewing pornography online started when he was around 12 or 13 years old, and it soon became part of his daily routine. The impact on his life, he told ABC News, was substantial.

"I felt like every day I was just incomplete, like there was just a whole chunk of me missing, like a hole in my gut," Haug said. "I convinced myself that I had to take care of the problem on my own, and I didn't think I could approach someone and get help."

After talking with his father and a church leader, Haug got help through a program designed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Today, he is working to help other kids in the same situation through the group, Fight the New Drug."

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation fact sheet, one study found that 7 in 10 teens ages 15 to 17 say they have accidentally come across pornography on the Internet. A University of New Hampshire study showed that 72.8 percent of study participants had seen online pornography before the age of 18.

In the U.K., a recent report from the Independent Parliamentary Inquiry into Online Child Protection suggests that four out of five 16-year-old boys and girls regularly access porn on the Internet, and one in three 10-year-old children had seen explicit sexual material.

"This generation is going through an experiment. No one knows how they will survive this unprecedented assault on their sexual development," Miranda Suit, founder of the group Safermedia, told the inquiry. "They are guinea pigs for the next generation."

G. Sheldon Martin, a licensed professional counselor and current LDS bishop, suggested six tips to help parents control what type of content comes into their houses through the Internet and media:

1. Put filters on the computers

2. Have passwords on computers and wireless Internet

3. Have the computer in an open area in the house (not a bedroom or a secluded area)

4. Be careful with movie channels and cable

5. Learn how to search the Internet history and make it a family rule not to clear the history on the computer

6. Beware of how much media is allowed in the bedroom

"If you don't remember anything else, I hope you remember this: This is not a victimless act," former president and CEO of Deseret Management Corporation Mark Willes said at the May 2011 Conference on Protecting Children and Families from Pornography and Other Harmful Materials.

"We cannot begin too early to talk to our children about this plague," Willes said. "By the way, they know more than you think they know. In fact, if they are 10 or older, they have probably already seen it."

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