Denver, Colo., Jul 23, 2014 / 03:57 am
The co-founder and executive director of an organization that fights pornography addiction among youth says he sees a need to continue raising awareness about the harmful effects of porn.
"We want to change the attitude and perception of young people on this topic so that we can help preserve relationships, love, intimacy, spirituality and inspire a new generation to pursue real love and avoid its counterfeit," Clay Olsen told CNA.
Olsen helped found Fight the New Drug with the intention of helping to make a change in the culture after seeing the harmful effects of pornography on some of his loved ones.
"When it comes to drugs and other types of addictions, we have curriculum, billboards, and campaigns to raise awareness, but when it comes pornography, our culture acts as if it doesn't exist," he said.
The name for the organization was chosen specifically to portray the addictive nature of pornography.
One recent survey found that nearly one in five regular pornography watchers felt controlled by their own sexual desires. And a study out of Cambridge University last year found that individuals who are addicted to pornography demonstrate similar brain activity to alcoholics or drug addicts.
"The more research that comes out has shown us that pornography works like a drug when it comes to the brain," Olsen explained. Learning more about the addictive nature of pornography has led to the discovery that "the brain is capable of healing and rewiring back to a healthy state."
"We aim to help youth understand that not only does porn cause serious damage in their own lives, but also understand it as a social injustice that we need to collectively stand against."
Fight the New Drug has created a free online program called Fortify to help youth fight pornography addiction.
The video-based program includes a personalized "battle strategy" and progress tracker, journal responses and encouragement emails. Utilizing the science of addiction, it offers tools, education, and resources to help young people succeed in their battle against pornography.
"We have worked for over three years with a team of therapists and psychologists and currently have over 5,000 users already who are getting the help they need to recover," said Olsen, who added that the program is unique in what it does.
Fight The New Drug has given presentations at more than 300 school assemblies in both public and private schools across the U.S. as well as in parts of Canada.
The educational presentations involve offering information on pornography's three main areas of impact: individuals, relationships and society, which Olsen described as "the brain, the heart, and the world."
He emphasized the impact on relationships, noting that studies have found "that regular viewers of pornography often times prefer the fantasy to reality and prefer the computer screen to a human person."
The correlation between sex trafficking and the porn industry is growing more than ever in recent studies, Olsen said. "Though it is not the case in every situation, more and more individuals are being forced, drugged, beaten and manipulated into participating in activities active in trafficking."
Despite the grim reality of pornography in the modern world, Olsen offered a positive message to those who struggle with it.
"The number one thing I would say to youth is that there is hope to overcome this addiction; a life without porn is far more joyful and meaningful and we are here to help our youth get to that point."