Fight The New Drug - Part 1
(To be perfectly honest - we must confess - we may have a favorite non-profit.)
Fight the New Drug (FTND) has provided the public with a plethora of research and hard facts about the extremely harmful affects of pornography. With honest love and compassionate awareness, this team of Fighters invites the culture to join them in sharing the truth about porn and has grown an expanding street team that is always shedding the light on an issue many have left to fester in the dark.
Highlighting three key ways that porn negatively affects people, FTND is a transparent organization that provides an excessive amount of citations in all their media. According to their research, pornography harms three major arenas: the brain, relationships and society.
Due to the sensitivity and abundance of information, studies and facts related to this issue that FTND - as well as other sources - share, we've made, for you, a 3-part blog series covering each one of these major arenas (although there might be some bleeding between subjects since everything in our lives are so connected). We hope you get the opportunity to sit down with these for a moment so that we might get to share with you our own thoughts, experiences and bring truth to a crucial subject we tend to neglect.
T H E B R A I N
Pornography affects the brain literally like a drug, plunging and trapping people into addiction. When the eyes and brain view pornography, pleasure chemicals are released into the brain, one in particular called dopamine. When dopamine is released, your brain creates pathways for the it to travel to receptors. Its like your brain is saying, "lets remember how to do that."
However, when a brain is receiving excess amount of dopamine it starts getting rid of those receptors, and those pathways become numb. The brain gets bored with the same old stimulant, meaning it wants stimulation more often, for longer durations and with more extreme content. It's just like someone addicted to drugs who can't cure the itch; they "need" a more intense high and a therefore go to a harder substance. Its in this circumstance people become liable to begin viewing more violent images or videos - despite their moral objections to such - so that they can get the shock factor, which will trigger more dopamine in the brain. Studies show that viewers of such extreme pornography will begin to normalize extreme sex acts, such as with animals or with violence. And once someone has normalized an act, they are more susceptible to do those things in reality.
Our brains have, what scientists call, "mirror neurons," which are neurons that fire when we see people doing an action. This is why we cry during operas, scream when we watch horror films and have panic attacks when we watch sports games on tv. The same happens with porn, the viewer's brain is wiring sexual arousal to their body as if what they are viewing on screen were happening to them in reality. When viewers see violence in pornography - which is depicted on average in 9 out of 10 pornographic films  - the viewer is susceptible to associate sexuality with violence and behave accordingly.
On top of rewiring behavior, and the need for a better "high", it is found that regular porn viewers will also have trouble finding joy and fulfillment in regular activities without pornography viewing. The dopamine levels that occur when one is rock climbing, or playing ping pong, or getting coffee with friend would not be strong enough to register a "happiness high" on its own, and would leave the person feeling down and uneasy if they had gone a long time without viewing porn. These things - hobbies, quality time, etc.- that are intended to bring someone happiness, now bring feelings of depression and anxiety to the porn addict.
Studies show that those with a drug addiction suffer shrinkage to the frontal lobes of their brains. This is the part of the brain that is used for problem solving and logical decision making. Recent studies have shown that this occurs not only in drug addiction but in other addictions as well, such as overeating, internet addiction, and sexual compulsion. These addictions can make even simple daily functions difficult.
To top it off, two of the most established scientists who have dedicated their research to pornography for over 30 years, found that the usage of porn literally has zero benefits. Professors Jennings Bryant and Dolf Zillman at the University of Alabama stated, "no rigorous research demonstrations of desirable effects can be reported."
- That is, in all of the serious research performed regarding porn, no one has found a single benefit. -
O U R E X P E R I E N C E
Addiction to pornography viewing is a very real threat to an individual's brain. But just as the brain can be rewired in a negative way, the brain's neuroplasticity can work to undo the damage done. I became slowly immersed in an addiction to pornography that lasted for about 8 years. There were a couple times that I tried to break the addiction off just by brute force and I'd always seem to fail. This brought about a lot of shame and guilt, "How could have I done this again?" It made me want to hide from friends and family, and I became paranoid that they'd find out my dark secrets.
It was a long process, with several physical, mental and spiritual steps I had to take. But I believe the most important thing one needs to break the addiction is a desire to do so. When what I chose to believe about myself and other people was revealed to me as a lie - "I'm weak and I needed porn," or "I am a horrible person for looking at this stuff," or "I'm not hurting anyone because she is just on a screen," - and the revelation about porn's very real consequences on my body, mind and heart came to me, my desire to actively fight against porn multiplied. I was given sight into the lie that is pornography and no longer defined myself by the things I exposed myself to. My desires to purely see women as valued and powerful people overcame, as did my ability to see myself as someone with authority over my beliefs and identity. It wasn't until I took authority over the lies, that I had the strength and power to take action. I decided I would not define myself or others based on how I had previously allowed porn to gear my brain. By taking action with a true desire, the healing process began. I began my education in the REAL affects of porn on the human body and my brain is free to enjoy the present reality, which, unlike porn, is abundant in love and life.
If you are reading this and you or someone you know is in the midst of a pornography addiction, we at APSE hope that this blog series will educate and bring a new perspective to you. We want to equip you with the knowledge of truth behind pornography, promote the beautiful reality that we can all live in and instill a hope for a future free from pornography addiction and its affects. We want to see a community of people that know their worth and know their potential!
For more facts on the adverse affects of pornography on the brain, visit Fightthenewdrug.org and GET THE FACTS, where they have a series of articles, many of which we've been using as our resource for this blog series. They got more in-depth explanation on the science of pornography addiction and more specific cited studies and information. Click below to check it out!
Also, to hear some testimonies from some people who have found freedom from their addiction, see Gary Wilson's Ted Talk, "The Great Porn Experiment." (link below) Towards the end, he tells of people testifying freedom from depression, anxiety and low self-worth once no longer engaging in pornographic content! It can be done!
Jarod and Hayley
p.s. Stay on the lookout for the next 2 parts to our Fight The New Drug blog series!
 Bridges, A. J., Wosnitzer, R., Scharrer, E., Chyng, S., and Liberman, R. (2010). Aggression and Sexual Behavior in Best Selling Pornography Videos: A Content Analysis Update. Violence Against Women 16, 10: 1065–1085.
 Zillmann, D. (2004). Pornografie. In R. Mangold, P. Vorderer, and G. Bente (Eds.) Lehrbuch der Madienpsychologie (pp. 565-850. Gottingen, Germany: Hogrefe Verlag.