January 30, 2014
With just a few types on the keyboard and clicks of the mouse, something one local group says is more addictive that hardcore drugs is readily available in many households.
“Ease of access has just led to a great increase in its viewing,” said Michael Lusk, a member of the group Fight the New Drug.
Lusk references the viewing of pornography.
“We are educating people about how pornography can be harmful to individuals and society,” Lusk said.
The group says people can easily become addicted to pornography, just as someone can become addicted to drugs like meth or cocaine.
“Porn is usually harder to get off of than crack or meth. Porn is an image that can stay in you,” said Elisha Rogers, a 12-year-old member of FTND. “Once you see it once and you’re addicted, you keep that seeing that image in your head.
FTND is a group of about 10 people in the Charlottesville area who formed a local chapter of a national organization that seeks to highlight negative effects of pornography.
“I think it’s called the ‘new drug’ because people are just now becoming aware to the reality that it is addictive to the level it is,” Lusk said.
The five members interviewed say they’ve seen firsthand through friends and family how pornography can become a controlling part of their lives.
“It’s really about the need,” said Dr. Rob Young, a clinical therapist who specializes in anxiety and marriage. “It’s the feeling that you have to look at it, and if you don’t look at it, you’re not going to be able to be happy.”
Young, of the Charlottesville Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy, says the brain reacts to pornography in similar ways to drugs, so it is possible to become addicted.
“You get chemical surges in your brain that are very similar to drug addictions,” he said. “Pornography can trigger the reward centers in your brain so you feel like you need it more than you literally do need it.”
Fight the New Drug makes three claims – porn causes addiction, porn harms society and porn hurts relationships.
“Although it can help a person feel more sexual, it can also make their partner feel asexual,” Young said.
The FTND team says an alternative to pornography is human relationships.
“One of the things that the organization focuses on is love with real people,” Lusk said.
But Young said there’s more to it than loving relationships. While they may be an ideal alternative, it’s not the cure to a pornography addiction.
“A loving relationship will provide things that pornography cannot provide,” Young said. “However, being in love with somebody does not trigger pleasure centers in your brain.”
One treatment option is to substitute the thrill someone gets from pornography with something else.
“They will climb mountains,” Young said. “They do things that are thrill-seeking that are not destructive.”
Another option is to put up barriers to prevent pornography viewing, like installing website filters on browsers or using the Internet in public places like coffee shops.
“The No. 1 goal is just to spread the information that we have to make sure as many people as possible can get a hold of it,” said Dylan Brandt, another member of FTND.
The group says their goal is education. One thing they’d like to do is organize presentations in local schools to warn kids of the dangers. They say the average age a person first sees pornography is 11 years old.
“Porn will come to them,” 12-year-old Rogers said. “If it’s a pop-up, it’s in the screen. Some kids our curious, and our minds aren’t developed.”
But while they say many are receptive to their ideas, they still face resistance for a topic many consider taboo.
“We don’t present it in a controversial way,” Brandt said. “I’d say we just present facts. We just want to present this information so people can make their own decisions.”
All in an effort to make sure people know what they’re getting into before logging on.