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The Rising Problem of Porn for Young Adults

With an estimated 1.7 billion active users on Facebook alone, 90% of 16-24 year olds owning a smartphone, and unprecedented accessibility to the world wide web, it is little wonder many are so easily turning to porn to ‘blow off steam’, without knowing the potential risks for addiction. 

 

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In a recent study carried out by the NSPCC of 1,000 children aged 11-16,  94% admitted they had been exposed to pornography by the age of 14 and 10% of 11-14 year olds feared they were already addicted. Statistics like these are fuelling political debate over enforcing age restrictions on porn sites and the ongoing battles over introducing compulsory sex and relationship education which includes the topic of porn. As many educational institutions see their funding for counselling being cut, this leaves a growing number of young people with nowhere to turn.

 

Regardless the problem of porn addiction for many people will not disappear overnight. With reports, like the BBC’s Newsbeat, revealing online pornography is damaging to young people’s sexual health, it begs the question of why the subject is still so taboo within our society. According to www.pornaddictionhelp.co.uk, a self-help website aimed at providing free tools for individuals who suspect they may have porn addiction, 80% of their 4,165 respondents aged under 25 had never spoken to anyone about their problematic porn use. The same site disclosed that 64% of the same respondents had identified their problem with pornography began before the age of 16.

 

An entire generation, Millennials, are being diagnosed with mental health issues that have never been present before. The fear of missing out is rapidly becoming a diagnosable cause for many young adults suffering with anxiety. The need to constantly be ‘updated’ with friends and family, to have the latest technology, the right degree, the perfect job, all pressures synonymous with ‘keeping up with Joneses’ but ultimately an unrealistic lifestyle to maintain without some form of pay off. Work hard, play hard seems to the motto for this generation, however many are struggling to find the balance of having it all and are turning to porn, becoming trapped in an increasingly compulsive cycle of use. For many they have nowhere to turn, experiencing social anxiety and shame.

 

As a result Paula Hall & Associates have developed an easily accessible and confidential service for young people who are in need of help. Their new 8 week online course with a qualified psychotherapist is the first recovery programme of its kind to be launched here in the UK. The initial service is aimed at 18-25 year olds who are often facing huge transitions and pressures in today’s world.

 

“The hope is that the programme will enable young adults to get affordable help.” Says Paula Hall, Clinical Director. “We want to help them build an online support network with their group so they can go on to live healthy lives with healthy relationships.” Along with her colleagues, Hall & Associates have specialised in the treatment of porn and sex addiction for over 15 years, and have worked alongside established rehabilitation facilities across the UK. Having identified a shortfall in affordable and accessible services to young adults, the 8 week online course, will initially be piloted with 18-25 year olds with a view to expanding services as demand increases.

 

Ian Baker, a specialist young people’s counsellor and porn addiction therapist who will deliver the programme said “We understand how incredibly difficult it is for young people to reach out for help for fear of being ostracised by their peers. That’s why we have developed this service specifically for them.”

 

Utilising secure technology available on the web, multiple small groups of young adults will have access to educational information, practical relapse prevention tools and insight into possible underlying causes for their porn addiction, all whilst having the encouragement of a professional. The online conferencing will facilitate the known benefits of attending group recovery whilst allowing clients to harbour in the sanctuary of their own space.

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