Steps You Can Take Now
There are many things we can do to safeguard homes and protect others from the harmful effects of pornography. Elder M. Russell Ballard identified seven things that every parent can do to minimize the negative effects media can have on families.
- Make Good Media Choices. We need to make good media choices ourselves and set good examples for children.
- Use Filters. We need to use Internet filters and TV programming locks to prevent children from “chancing upon” things they should not see.
- Spend Enough Quality Time with Children. We need to spend enough quality time with children that we are consistently the main influence in their lives, not the media or any peer group.
- Limit the Amount of Time Children Watch Media. We need to limit the amount of time our children watch TV or play video games or use the Internet each day. Virtual reality must not become their reality.
- Do Not Have TVs and Computers in a Private Place. We need to have TVs and computers in a much-used common room in the home, not in a bedroom or a private place.
- Hold Family Councils. We need to hold family councils and decide what the media standards are going to be.
- Take Time to Watch Appropriate Media. We need to take time to watch appropriate media with children and discuss with them how to make choices that will uplift and build rather than degrade and destroy (see "Let Our Voices Be Heard," Ensign, Nov. 2003, 18–19).
Many wonder why addicts don't "just stop." Below are some key points on how pornography impacts the brain.
- The thalamus and brainstem regulate pleasure and reward activities. These include eating and sexuality which are important in the survival of the individual and the species.
- When we overuse pleasure centers, the cells that produce dopamine are overworked. As a defense reaction, the brain decreases the amount of dopamine available and also causes shrinkage in the cells that produce the dopamine around the cerebral cortex.
- Shrinkage of the cerebral cortex is a consequence of addiction. The shrinkage in the cerebral cortex also contributes to the compulsivity and impulsivity seen in addiction.
- The cerebral cortex is where benefits and risks of pleasurable stimulus are weighed. It is the "thinking" part of the brain.
- Day-to-day pleasures are not enough to alleviate the brain's craving for dopamine. This craving in the newly reset pleasure thermostat in the brain is likely key in the desire to relapse.
- Brain restoration comes with abstinence from pornography. Restoration to more normal brain volume has been seen with recovery in addiction.
When counseling those who are involved with pornography, you can refer to the booklet Helping Those Who Struggle with Pornography. You can also refer members to the booklet Let Virtue Garnish Thy Thoughts. Both booklets are available from Church distribution centers. The other suggestions listed in these articles may also be helpful to you.
As those struggling with pornography work with you to recover, seeking necessary support from others, keep the following in mind:
- Meet Regularly and Encourage Repentance. When Church members meet with you to discuss a problem with pornography use, carefully interview them to assess the extent of the problem. Provide counsel, offer love and encouragement, and help them through the repentance process.
- Enable a Support System. By affiliating with a strong support system, people who are struggling are less likely to feel isolated and alone. The value of a strong support system cannot be overestimated.
- Remember the Family Members. Remember that spouses of recovering individuals may also need assistance from leaders, professionals, and support groups.
- Speak Openly. Talk openly about the problem in special meetings for the Melchizedek Priesthood, Relief Society, and older youth. Your openness and concern will encourage those who need help to seek your counsel.
- Consider Professional Assistance. Refer members to a trusted professional when needed. Participation in professional counseling, including individual and group therapy, has been helpful for a majority of those who recover.
- Family Members. Family members can most effectively be a source of support by offering love and acceptance and by applying the same treatment steps to their own lives.
- Recovery Meetings. In these meetings, newcomers hear participants describe how they apply recovery principles and practices in daily living. Find a meeting.
- Professional Counselors. When seeking professional help, it is important to select someone who is supportive of gospel principles as well as recovery methods consistent with those taught in the Addiction Recovery Program.
- Ecclesiastical Support. Never forget or underestimate the power of ecclesiastical stewardship.
- A Support Person. A support person helps those in recovery put their "lives into perspective and avoid exaggerating or minimizing [their] accountability" (Guide, 29).