‘Hooked’ Uncovers the Hidden Dangers of Teen Sex

Pop culture tells young people that sex is an act of self-expression, a personal choice for physical pleasure that can be summed up in the ubiquitous phrase, “hooking up.” They are told that as long as they use protection and avoid STDs or out-of-wedlock pregnancies, there are no consequences. But what happens when those relationships end? “Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children” uncovers new research on the impact that sex, even “safe” sex, can have on the adolescent brain. Written by physicians Joe S. McIlhaney, Jr., M.D. and Freda McKissic Bush, M.D., “Hooked” is a journey of exploration into the mind, the most powerful sex organ of all.

Based on studies and data from the Medical Institute for Sexual Health, a nonprofit medical, educational, and research organization, “Hooked” reveals groundbreaking evidence showing that when couples become sexually active, they release a series of brain chemicals that can result in powerful emotional bonding. Once “hooked,” the couple has a bond that is not easily broken. When separation does occur, it has a chemical and biological impact on the brain – an impact that affects future behavior and happiness.

“Millions of American teenagers and young adults are finding that the psychological baggage of casual sex is affecting their lives,” said Gary Rose, MD, President and CEO of the Medical Institute. “They are discovering that ‘hooking up’ is the easy part, but ‘unhooking’ from a sexual relationship is a lot harder and can have serious consequences.”

The risks of unprotected sex and unhealthy sexual behavior are widely known. More than 700,000 unplanned pregnancies and 19 million new Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) occur in the United States each year. But too few young people consider the emotional and psychological risks of casual sex – bonds that are certain to be formed, regardless of precautionary measures. When these bonds are broken, the trauma can create negative patterns in their behavior and thinking that last a lifetime. More than just stern warning about teenage sex, “Hooked” is a journey of discovery into the human brain when we are at our most vulnerable, and speaks to every parent and child who must consider the true consequences of sex.

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