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Helping Teens Overcome Pornography

Developing Relationally Healthy Teens

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An ongoing series of informational entries

 Third Blog Entry

October 23, 2016

A Message to Teens


You know that no one else can do this for you. Yes, HELP IS NEEDED! There is no illusion that it will be easy to win this war. However, if you are committed to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12), then victory is possible with support. You can be successful with the help of a counselor, an accountability person or mentor, your parent(s), and above all God.


Perhaps you have tried to fight off sexual temptation. Sometimes you are successful, but other times you fall down. How do you deal with those times when you give in to temptation? It is very important that we learn this well: (1) you need help, and (2) you must have conviction!


Nick Vujicic is well-acquainted with battles and physical disabilities. He was born without arms or legs, and at one time, thought about ending his life. As you might imagine, he knows a lot about falling down, too. He doesn’t have arms or legs, but he never stayed down. There is a popular Japanese proverb that describes his formula for success: “Fall seven times, stand up eight.” He doesn’t view failure as final. It’s more of a trial and error process. You learn something each time that helps you to do better the next time.


If you mess up, it’s not an occasion to throw in the towel. Instead, it means you need to recognize your problem, ask God for wisdom, and rely more on the Holy Spirit for strength. If you learn well, you will move forward and grow. Nick Vujicic captured the essence of a victorious spirit when he said, “No matter who you are, no matter what you're going through, God knows it. He is with you. He is going to pull you through.”


For there to be victory, you have to feel worthy of it. You are, after all, His beloved! God couldn’t love you more or less. His love is perfect and casts out all fear of your value to Him (1 John 4:8). Then you must act confidently, according to His direction. Fortunately, Nick overcame his disabilities and despair to live an independent, abundant, and fulfilling life. He is a great role model for all of us. You can read more about him and his “ridiculously good” life in his book, Life Without Limits.


Nick learned just how much he was loved by God. He adds, “It’s a lie to think you’re not good enough. It’s a lie to think you’re not worth anything. The challenges in our lives are there to STRENGTHEN our CONVICTIONS. They are NOT there to run us over.” What are your convictions regarding your worth and the purpose of God in your life?

Hopefully, you are willing to embrace these convictions. Convictions are firm and fixed beliefs that guide and strengthen our lives. Here are some life-changing convictions:

1. It is possible to turn from a life of sexual sin to a life of purity.

2. The foundation for lasting change is the grace of Jesus.

3. Jesus can, will, and does set people free from the power of pornography.

4. Real change isn’t a human method, program, or just trying harder—but rather a trusting relationship in Christ and following practices based on His work.


These practices built on the work of Christ offer the fuel and road map for change. Each of them is grounded in God’s love and defines how to apply the good news in practical ways…


(Excerpt adapted from, Pure Teens: Honoring God, Relationships, and Sex by Dr. John Thorington.

Second Blog Entry

October 22, 2016

Are You a Struggling Teenager?


Many teens today are struggling with pornography, and my heart goes out to you if you are one. It’s incredibly difficult today to live porn free. You have hopefully figured out that an addiction to pornography is just too big of an issue to handle alone. You are going to need help! It is best, if possible, that you talk with your parents. I know that sharing something like this isn’t easy, but I can assure you it is worth it.


There are a couple of things that keep teens from sharing about their addiction: there is embarrassment and there is fear about disappointing those in their family. If this is also holding you back I want to encourage you to be courageous.


What will your parents’ reaction be when you share with them that you are struggling with pornography? I can’t tell you – I have never met them so I can only tell you how many parents react. When they learn their child is struggling with pornography, usually express three emotions:

1. They feel angry. Not at their son or daughter, but at themselves for not better protecting their teen from this problem.

2. They are sad that their teen is struggling with this temptation alone.

3. They are often proud of their teen for admitting this problem. It isn’t an easy thing to do and most parents realize that.


Most parents are going to have similar feelings. So I would encourage you to not let your fear of disappointing others get in the way of sharing about your struggles.


Is it possible to share something that is this embarrassing with your parents? I don’t know you’re your situation. If you can, then go for it. Pick the parent you feel most comfortable with and let them know you need to talk with them. If you are afraid to face them in person, there is another option…writing a note or letter. Let them know that you have struggled with pornography and need their help in getting free from it. It doesn’t have to be a long note…you just need to share the basics. Here is an example:


Dad,

There is something I want to tell you, but I am

Not sure how to say it. I have been battling with

pornography for some time, and I know I cannot

stop alone. I need your help.


You can’t beat this alone, and keeping it a secret will only keep you in bondage longer. Overcome your fear and communicate about the problem with a family member as soon as possible. So get a piece of paper and decide who you are going to share it with, when you are going to give it with them, and how you are going to share it with them. Don’t waste any more of your life on pornography.

 

 First Blog Entry

October 21, 2016

Teen Pornography Addiction Checkup


Directions: Read each of the 25 statements carefully. If the statement is mostly TRUE, place the letter T on the space next to the number. If the statement is mostly FALSE, place the letter F on the space next to the number.

____ 1. I think about sex more than I would like to.

____ 2. I have joined in sexually related chats.

____ 3. I have masturbated while looking at pornography.

____ 4. I spend more than 3 hours a week using my computer for         sexual pursuits.

____ 5. I have searched for pornography on computers besides at home.

____ 6. I try to hide my sexual use of the computer from others.

____ 7. I often feel empty or shameful after viewing pornography.

____ 8. I have stayed up after midnight to access sexual material online.

____ 9. I have made promises to myself to stop using the Internet for sexual reasons.

____10. I have planned my time and schedule in order to get online for sexual purposes.

____11. I feel anxious, angry, disappointed, when I can’t access sexual material online.

____12. I have lied to others about what I do online.

____13. I have sent or received sexual pictures online.

____14. I believe that I am addicted to Internet pornography.

____15. I have viewed or posted sexual pictures or information on Facebook or other social media.

____16. I worry about getting caught by my parents or others.

____17. I have sexual thoughts and feelings that conflict with my family values and religious beliefs.

____18. I have viewed or posted sexual videos online (YouTube, Google Video, etc.).

____19. I have stored sexual pictures or videos online.

____20. I have met face to face with someone I met online for romantic/sexual purposes.

____21. I rationalize, justify, minimize, and make excuses about my pornography use.

____22. I sometimes feel there is something wrong with me for what I do online.

____23. I have looked at pornography or masturbated as a reward for accomplishing something.

____24. I have seen sexual pictures of other kids or teens online.

____25. I sometimes look at pornography to avoid or escape my feelings or to deal with stress or boredom.


How many Ts/TRUE? ______

How many Fs/FALSE? ______


Scoring Guide:

0-4 Normal sexual develop and curiosity. No treatment is required. It is recommended to undergo education regarding dangers of pornography and open discussion about healthy relationships and sexuality.

5-7 Reason for concern. Preventative education is clearly recommended. Teen is vulnerable for possible addiction. It’s time to share the dangers of online behaviors and open dialogue about healthy relationships and sexuality.

8-12 Developing pornography addiction. Teen needs vigilant monitoring of online behavior. Treatment is advised to prevent more pervasive addiction. Distorted view of sexuality and hypersexual behaviors may begin to show. Increased risk for emotional, social and legal problems related to pornography addiction.

13-25 Youth is addicted to pornography. Treatment is necessary to combat the addiction. Teen cannot find freedom without professional treatment. Healthy coping skills are overshadowed by out of control behavior. Teen’s judgment and decisions are distorted and unsafe. High risk for emotional, social and legal problems connected to pornography addiction.



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Fifth Blog Entry

November 22, 2016

Accountability Is Key to Successful Teen Recovery


To really grow in recovery, I strongly recommend you (in consultation with your parent[s]) find a person who will serve as your mentor. It’s best to find someone the same sex as you. Choosing a parent to be a mentor is fine, but you should choose another adult such as a coach, minister, or relative as well.


Look for someone who is mature and esteemed by others. This must be a trustworthy person who keeps confidences, with whom you feel comfortable enough to be totally open, with no holding back. The best mentors are good listeners. They are encouragers who willingly make themselves available when needed. This person must be someone who can be firm with you when needed. There are a number of things to look for in a mentor.


Accountability

It works best to set up a definite time to meet your mentor on a regular basis, such as twice a month. Having another adult in our life who knows enough about us to ask the right—sometimes hard—questions will help us be successful. Here are some sample questions to get you started:


1. Have you been praying daily and reading God’s Word? Tell me about it.

2. Has there been a slip or a fall with pornography since our last meeting?

3. Are you being honest with your family, your mentor, and others?

4. Have you been looking at others with lust?

5. Have your thoughts been free of lust and pure?

6. Have you spent quality time in your relationships this week?

7. What is God trying to teach you?

8. What have you done recently to show kindness toward others?

9. How have you been aware of God’s love for you?

10. Have you been putting on the full armor of God?


Put together an initial list of questions to be used with your mentor. It is quite likely you will change the list over time. That is to be expected.


Transparency

Ego, grandiosity, and self-centeredness (“I can do this all by myself. I don’t need help from anyone”) will derail us. There is an ancient proverb that says, “Pride goes before a fall.” A mentor is honest about his or her imperfections and steps for growing, and he or she will not hide behind, “I’ve got it all together.”


Honesty

It’s really easy to fool others, and even ourselves. We’ve learned how to look really good on the outside, while feeling terrible on the inside. Here again, if we’ve been open with our mentor about our personal issues, he or she will hold us accountable and confront us when we’ve slipped into self-deception.


Objectivity

“Stinking thinking” is a real trap. Having a person committed to being a “sounding board” for us gives us someone who can say stuff like, “I don't think you understand that correctly” or “Have you considered this might be what’s really going on?” We need someone who can help us to steer a clear course.


Encouragement

We may get down on ourselves at times. Sometimes, we need the support and hope provided by our mentor to keep growing. Our mentor reminds us that we can make it!


It will take some time and effort to find the right mentor. Start the process by bathing this endeavor in earnest prayer. Ask the Lord to bring possible mentors to your attention. I encourage you to seek the advice of your parents, therapist, and pastor in this selection process.


The role of the mentor is significant to the success of your recovery. Keep this in mind: “A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could” (Unknown). 

Fourth Blog Entry

November 1, 2016


What Preteen Parents Need to Know about Pornography?


Five years ago, I hardly ever got a phone call about preteens viewing pornography. Many times I would get calls involving kids 12-13 years of age. Now, the phone calls are for children ages 6-8 years old. One mother recently called me seeking help for her 8-year-old daughter. She had just learned that her daughter had secretly been viewing pornography for a year. Her daughter cried out in confession and reported to her mom, “I have tried to stop many times, but I can’t…help me.”


Prevalence of Porn


When I first started doing this work back in 2000, statistics revealed that the average age of first exposure to porn was around 13. Now, children are being exposed to pornography at earlier and earlier ages. The American Academy of Pediatrics revealed that 42 percent of children ages 10 to 17 have seen online pornography in the past year. Now, due to the prevalence of pornography on the internet, several reports suggest that the age has dropped to 8.


Many of my colleagues report seeing more preteens (and teens). It isn’t just boys viewing pornography. Sadly, counselors describe seeing more preteens, including girls, who compulsively view pornography. This is very disturbing since the earlier the exposure, the more deep-rooted an addiction may become.


Power of Porn


The mother I spoke about earlier described what was happening with her precious daughter. She shared how they had set up protection and accountability in their home. However, her daughter still continued to look for ways to access pornography.


I listened as she described all I had learned in recent years about the power of pornography on a young brain. She described how it changed her daughter’s mood. The daughter spoke many times about the images she couldn’t get out of her mind. On many occasions she told her mother how she was preoccupied with sexual thoughts. It changed the way that she looked at people. The mother wept as she said, “My daughter is no longer innocent.”


Preventing Porn Addiction


When I think of the numerous parents that I have spoken to in recent years, I see some things that parents could do differently that might prevent their preteen from falling victim to this addiction. While no prevention plan guarantees a porn-proof child, taking these steps can help.


1. Protect. With today’s technology proliferation, pornography is easily accessible and almost impossible to avoid. Every home needs a protection plan to safeguard their children. It is so important for parents to be a good example with accountability software on their own devices. Of course, it helps to model healthy boundaries in the movies and shows viewed and the material you read.

2. Train. You can do everything possible to protect your children, and still they may encounter pornography at school or at a friend’s house. The real battle won’t be accomplished through mere behavioral change. It is important to prepare your child’s heart and mind to fight for their future in three ways.


a. Teach the biblical perspective of sacred sex. It is preposterous to think that “the talk” will fulfill your role as a parent. God calls you to nurture and develop a healthy sense of sexuality in your children. There are many opportunities as you raise your children to intentionally teach them God’s plan for relationships and sex. By discussing sex in a positive, appropriate and God-honoring way, you can help your children combat the lies of pornography and the world.

b. Warn them of the dangers. Some parents mistakenly worry that warning their children about pornography will incite a harmful curiosity. Studies reveal that the opposite is true. Children are less likely to look at porn, when they are alerted to its dangers. Age-appropriate conversations can start as early as preschool. Why not? We warn them at that age about strangers and bad touch.

c. Maintain open communication. In my experience, children often feel guilt and shame even when they unintentionally stumble upon pornography. You can best help your children by keeping communication open and declaring your unconditional love for them.

3. Pray. A parent can pray many things for their children. The following prayer is a simple way to start. You will have perhaps other things on your heart

O God:


Give me wisdom and discernment in the raising of my child(ren)

Help me to lead by worthy and Christ-like example

May I teach them Your precepts and truth and light

I ask for Your strong arms of protection

May they honor You with their body

Turn their eyes away from worthless things and

Above all, I pray they will love You, Abba Father, with their whole heart and being.

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November 24, 2016

You Have been Invited to a Life of Relational and Sexual Fulfillment


War has been declared, and every teen needs a plan of action for living pure in this epic battlefield. Teens today are confronted with a culture of online pornography, chat rooms, sexting, and sex-on-demand. The enemy attacks the young, hoping to wound and leave them destroyed. But there is hope.


The book Pure Teens: Honoring God, Relationships, and Sex is a valuable, practical resource for every Christian teen about relationships and sex—and why it is such a big deal to God. I don’t shy away from edgy topics and candidly talk about:


• The ground-breaking science that explains the addictive power of cybersex

• Straight talk about masturbation and pornography

• A battle plan for living porn free with sexual integrity

• A positive perspective about sacred sex

• The keys to a lifetime of fulfilling intimacy

• How to live boldly while honoring God


Each of the chapters in Pure Teens will help you figure out God’s road map in making decisions about how to honor Him, relationships, and sex. Parents and counselors will also find tested and tried steps to guide young people to a life of godly freedom and integrity.


Pure Teens is intended to bring you into a closer relationship with the God who deeply loves you. It is also a handbook to equip you for the great purpose and destiny God has for you.

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Seventh Blog Entry

November 28, 2016

Dad, It’s Time to Lead!


When I was sixteen years old, my pastor offered me a great gift. He knew I was in a serious dating relationship, and he must have thought I needed guidance. He told me many things about relation​ships and sex. These things were never talked about by either of my parents.


One thing he said I have never forgotten: “You can tell more about a man’s character and destiny by one thing…” I waited on the edge of my seat for his next words. He continued, “…By what he does with his sexuality.” Those words still ring true today.

The most common story is that the father doesn’t talk about this important issue. In this day and time, this sort of passivity is tantamount to spiritual neglect and abuse. The Internet and various media are doing a lot to influence the minds of young people. It is urgent that Dads talk to their teens about the subject of relationships and sacred sex. I am not talking about a one-time talk, but rather, an on-going dialogue at many different points of their lives.


We shouldn’t be afraid to talk about what God created and then said, “It is very good.” The Bible speaks about sex positively and frequently from Genesis to Revelation. We see from the very beginning that human beings are created as sexual beings (Genesis 1:27), and that God blessed the sexual union between a husband and wife from the outset (Genesis 1:28; 2:24).


Our teens need to hear about the meaning of sex. Here are a few things that might help guide your conversations. You are encouraged to study these in the Scriptures. First, you can talk about God’s blessing on the sexual union of marriage to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). Second, you can inform your teen(s) that God designed sex to be pleasurable (Song of Solomon 7:6-10). Third, you can share how sexual intimacy can strengthen the marital relationship and covenant (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). Finally, you can highlight how faithfulness in marriage speaks to the faithfulness and steadfast love of Jesus for his Church (Ephesians 5:25-32). The fundamental story of sex is ultimately the story of God’s love and blessing for his people.


I do not claim to know the best age for you to begin having these conversations with your kids. I just know that too many of us either wait too long to start or never start at all. I highly recommend that you get a copy of the Focus on the Family Guide to Talking with Your Kids about Sex by J. Thomas Fitch and David Davis. It will guide you through the various ages of raising your children.


Here are five helpful tips to inspire you to jump into this topic:


1. Take the Initiative. There are many powerful cultural influencers already communicating with teens about sex—movies, music, commercials, magazines, social networking, and much more. Sex education is happening today with your kids. Will you join in the conversation and influence your children with the Gospel? Paul exhorted us, “Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds” (Romans 12:2).

2. Act with Deliberation and Purpose. These conversations don’t just happen. These conversations are not usually comfortable. We must have a plan and be willing to engage with our kids positively about God’s design for relationships and sexuality.

3. Be Inviting and Accessible. Let your kids know that you want them to come to you about these matters. This means you need to be comfortable talking about sex and relationships. If you have unresolved issues of your own, it is advised that you seek Christian counseling. Let them know you are available, and they are encouraged to ask their questions. You will be honest with them.

4. Be Open and Vulnerable. So many Dads hesitate to talk with their kids about this issue because of shame or guilt over their own past sexual mistakes. Many Dads fear this question from their kids: “What did you do, Dad?” It can be helpful to share that you made mistakes. You’ll have to wisely decide how much to share. Let them know that consequences come from the choices we make—and that can either be pain in one’s life or blessings—depending on our choices. Now is the time to consider your own sexual journey, what you have learned, and what you want to share with your teens. More importantly, highlight that we serve a Redeemer, who forgives us and restores us: “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

5. Teach and Pray for Influence. Our culture communicates to our kids about sex. The media’s messages are impossible to avoid—they are found in everything from reality TV, movies and advertisements, to online and offline games and social media like Instagram and Facebook.


Our culture is loud and persuasive when it comes to telling their story. We must answer that story with God’s better story, his story of sacred sex. Luke 12:12 says “…for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say.” Dads, be confident! You have what it takes to accomplish this great purpose. God has given you his Holy Spirit who will help. He will enable you to teach your teen a positive and sacred view of sex.

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Eighth Blog Entry

November 29, 2016

Four Things You Need to Know about Pornography and the Brain


You need at least a basic understanding of the brain in order to live a pure life. Until a few years ago, there was little evidence and research to reach reliable conclusions. We have known for a long time that sex is more than a physical experience, but there was no real way of really knowing what was happening in the brain when people engaged in love, passion, lust, sex, or other emotions.


Today, thanks to breakthroughs in neuroscience, scientists have been able to view the activity of the brain as it functions. Researchers have been able to unlock a whole new world of data. In his book, Clean: A Proven Plan for Men Committed to Sexual Integrity, Dr. Douglas Weiss says “sex produces powerful, even lifelong, changes in our brains that direct and influence our future to a surprising degree.” Weiss goes on to say, “Your brain is the pleasure center for your body, especially when you have a sexual release.” This is a good reason for learning about the connection between sex and your brain.


Here are four things you should know about pornography and the brain:

1. At the time of a sexual release, you receive a potent rush of chemicals. The most important chemical in the brain in terms of reward is dopamine (the feel-good chemical). It also influences your behavior, cognition, and motivation. Sex is one of the strongest producers of the dopamine reward. We know from research that dopamine surges when a person is viewing different kinds of pornography. This has a negative effect on lasting relationships, because erotic images trigger more dopamine than a long-term partner. Thus, what God intended to be the ultimate pleasure is replaced by porn images and fantasy. This explains why teens are especially vulnerable to falling into the habit of dopamine reward for unwise sexual behavior. It helps explain why so many young people are getting hooked.

2. We know from neuroscience that sexual imprinting takes place when you look at pornography. William M. Struthers, associate professor of psychology at Wheaton College, says the unfortunate reality is that when you look at porn and act out (often by masturbating), there are hormonal and neurological consequences. In short, you are designed to bond with the object you are focusing on. In God’s design, this would be your wife, but for many guys it is an image or video on the computer screen, which has the inevitable effect of taking control of the response intended to exist between husband and wife.

3. Overstimulation leads to desensitization. Why do guys seek out a variety of new sexual images rather than being satisfied with the same ones? Neuroscience helps us to understand what has been called the Coolidge Effect. It is a neurological effect where the guy has renewed sexual interest when introduced to new partners—again the brain is changed. Too much stimulation of the dopamine reward circuitry also creates desensitization. This means the brain doesn’t respond as much and there is less reward from pleasure. This results in the porn viewer seeking out more extreme stimuli or longer amounts of time viewing porn. This all has a numbing effect on the brain. The sad impact of this is: teens eventually find themselves looking at and getting aroused by very degrading and dehumanizing images.

4. The brain stores and creates triggers. Neuroscience has also helped us to understand that when arousal and response are activated it is stored in the brain. This influences how we are triggered and process things emotionally. Spiritually speaking, when you sin sexually, this is stored in the body. This works either good or bad depending on what is stored. For example, a young guy had a fantasy that involved girls using dirty language. This was a powerful emotional trigger for him. He worked at a fast food restaurant, and one day a co-worker used certain dirty talk. He immediately felt a strong attraction and he joined in making some sexual comments. The situation nearly exploded on him, because the girl accused him of sexual harassment. Fortunately, both workers were disciplined for their actions, and he kept his job. He learned a hard lesson.


What makes porn unique and especially dangerous for teens?


Gary Wilson identifies a number of reasons, including: (1) With Internet porn one can escalate both with more novel “partners” and by viewing new and unusual types (and a lot of it is free to view); (2) There’s no need to limit consumption. Unlike food and drugs, escalation is always possible because the brain’s natural satiation mechanisms don’t kick in unless one climaxes; (3) Internet porn will not activate the brain’s natural aversion system—after all, who can’t bear to look at just one more erotic image? and (4) The age users begin viewing porn. A teen’s brain is at its peak of dopamine production, making it susceptible to addiction and rewiring.


You have significant power to determine your own brain development. In her book Brave New Brain, prominent neuroscientist and psychiatrist Nancy Andreasen puts it this way: “We can change who and what we do by what we see, hear, say, and do. It is important to choose the activities for our brains to be well trained…We make choices that change our brains and ultimately change who we are.”

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Ninth Blog Entry

December 7, 2016

Ten Targets for Teen Recovery Success


How can teens and parents know if recovery is working? The answer is by using targets to measure progress. Like rock cairns, which guide hikers along a path, targets tell us where we are and when we are being successful. As we work through things, we can notice “targets” that tell us we are on the right path to recovery.


Working toward each target builds confidence and recovery skills, which results in building trust and strengthens relationships. People who are successful at recovery all have something in common—they strive for and keep their eyes on each target.


Following are 10 areas to help determine your opportunity for a successful recovery. Each target offers you an opportunity to assess how well you are advancing on the road to recovery. I have found these targets to be reliable indicators for successful recovery. If a person follows the path outlined by these targets, it is possible to find freedom from compulsive behaviors and healthier living. Positive life change can be the result.


For each item below, assess yourself on the following scale:

• 1: Not Started

• 2: Started

• 3: Need Help

• 4: Good Progress

• 5: On Target


Grab a piece of paper and write down the number that most describes where you see yourself. You will need to be honest with yourself. Your goal is to identify where you are doing well and where you need to work in order to best assure a positive outcome toward your targets.


1. Establish sobriety. Have you stopped the repetitive patterns of obsession and compulsion? Do you recognize that healing isn’t possible without stopping the acting out. Abstinence has to come first.

2. Willing to work. Progress depends on an attitude of willingness. Although you don’t always feel like doing it, you take part in counseling, meeting with your mentor, and group work (when possible). You recognize the need for change and are willing to learn and grow. You are regularly reading God’s Word and using recovery material.

3. Understand more clearly childhood and family-of-origin issues. You are beginning to see a connection between your out of control behaviors and earlier struggles in your life. You know that taking responsibility for your recovery is necessary. This includes dealing with shame and finding a new positive identity.

4. Help of a trained therapist. You have a relationship with your therapist. Even more important, you are willing to be open and honest with your therapist. You are building trust in him/her.

5. Assistance of peers and trusted adult(s). You see the need for adult support and someone you highly respect. The Twelve Steps call them sponsors. You understand why the support and accountability is a hallmark for success. You benefit greatly from both peers and adults who contribute support and encouragement.

6. Care of a primary physician. This is particularly important, when struggling with certain health issues like ADHD, OCD, depression, and anxiety. You are willing to seek the care of your medical doctor or psychiatrist.

7. Family involvement. You know that treatment outcomes are significantly improved when parents and family members participate. Sometimes parent(s) start working on their own struggles after seeing the positive changes their teen has made.

8. Exercise and eat better for improved health. Teens who experience steady recovery exercise regularly. The exercise and good nutrition improves your mental and physical well-being. Recovery isn’t simply about sobriety; it is a process of improvement on health and wellness.

9. Develop a spiritual life. Most important, you seek to grow in your relationship with God. You put into practice certain spiritual principles such as prayer, meditation, serving others, and the cultivation of gratitude. And, you participate in a spiritual community (i.e., church, synagogue).

10. View recovery as life-long learning and growth. Even after you stop the acting out behaviors, you know there is more to learn ahead. Alvin Toffler put it this way, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

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December 15, 2016

Understanding Your New Spiritual Identity


As long as we live in this world, we will continue to face temptation. It is not a sin to be tempted. Christ was “tempted in every way, just as we are” (Hebrews 4:15). We sin when we knowingly give in to temptation, something Christ never did.


The enemy, Satan, is constantly at work trying to get us to live our lives independently of God, to walk according to the flesh instead of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-23). Satan knows precisely which buttons to push when tempting us. He knows your weak spots and your family history. He knows the ways you have been injured and wounded. With your past history, he knows your vulnerability to sexual temptations.


You may have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, but this doesn’t mean old habits will cease right away. Sexual strongholds are difficult to overcome. We are in a world of constant bombardment from sexually stimulating thoughts, because sex is used in the media to sell everything from beer to hamburgers. Any past exposure to pornography or ungodly sexual activities only strengthens sexual strongholds in your life.


The only way we can really find freedom is to know the love of God through Jesus Christ.  In Him, we learn of our great worth and the power of His love! Brennan Manning put it this way, “My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.”1 Self-acceptance isn’t a matter of positive thinking or pop psychology; rather it is having faith in the grace of God.


Our identity is now found in Jesus Christ. He is the source of our victory. Nothing is more important than realizing what God has done for you in Christ and who you are as His child. Your actions and responses to life’s circumstances are greatly influenced by what you believe about yourself. If you see yourself as a helpless victim of life or Satan, you will be in bondage to lies. But if you see yourself as a dearly loved and accepted child of God, you will find hope to live a pure life.


1. Brennan Manning. The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out (Multnomah Publishing: Colorado Springs, CO, 2005).