Pornography addiction and families, BYU conference teaches about recovery

By Mandy Morgan

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Oct. 20 2012 5:49 p.m. MDT

Novelty is the biggest hook for both habits and addictions surrounding pornography. The human brain is always trying to learn something new, and with pornography there is always novelty, new things to digest that entertain the brain, Hilton said, which explains much of its allure.

If withdrawal takes place during recovery, that is often a sure sign of addiction. A young man going through recovery started experiencing severe headaches until he lapsed back into some of his previous behavior, after which the headaches went away; only then was he able to accept that he was addicted.

"We talk about rituals and healthy living with balance, but we all need to be in recovery work," Gray said on working through recovery for both addictions and negative habits. "With true recovery we need to get them understanding themselves, really help and go through all of the steps (with them)."

Hilton focused on the latest science about addictions in his keynote "Pornography and the Neuroplastic Brain: The Ultimate Process Addiction."

A processed addiction, also called a behavioral addiction, is an addiction to a behavior, such as overeating, gambling or pornography, he said. In August of 2011 the American Society of Addiction released a new definition for addiction which had two difference parts. The first states addiction is a chronic disease of the brain and the second states addiction includes not only substances but behaviors as well. That meant ASAM now includes sexual addiction as a true brain disease.

Despite these steps toward understanding pornography addictions better, there is resistance. The porn industry is desperately resisting being labeled as a serious addiction, because of what the addiction label did to different substances like cigarettes and tobacco, the experts said.

Hilton and his wife serve as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as programmers with LDS Family Services in San Antonio. They train and assist missionaries on how best to help people heal from pornography addiction.

"As a missionary working with my program, I have seen miracles in the past and continue to see them with those who have worked in the program to heal who find joy and continue to heal," Hilton said.

During the panel discussion, the experts briefly discussed the signs spouses or parents can watch for to know if their spouse or children are involved in pornography. Signs included irritability, unaccounted time use, increased isolation, disconnect with family and a host of others.

Though an addiction may be clear to the spouse or parent, the addict may not be willing to expose his or her problem right away, but "the parent or spouse needs to share a safe environment for disclosure ... I would not berate anyone dealing with this issue," Gray said on the panel.

If a pornography or sexual addiction is openly exposed (in the life of) a public figure, a parent needs to say "I'm sure this person is a good person" instead of acting openly disgusted toward the person. Otherwise, children will not feel comfortable bringing their own problem to light, Gray said.

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