Scientific evidence based on brain scans reveals that pornography use causes real physiological damage. Experts are now calling it “the crack cocaine of sexual addiction” and point to accessibility, affordability and anonymity as key contributors to its insidious nature. Unfortunately, the average age of exposure to pornography is now eight-years-old, according to Dr. Brent Gray, a licensed psychotherapist, board certified addiction professional and sex therapist from Spanish River Counseling Center in Boca Raton.
Gray is one of three panelists who will respond to questions following presentations by “Fight the New Drug,” a non-profit organization that has developed science-based, relevant programs that engage students and adults in school assemblies, church and community groups to educate people concerning porn and its harmful effects. Described as “the perfect combination of humor, powerful stories, compelling statistics and high quality media,” their message is “porn kills love; fight for love.”
Clay Olsen, co-founder/ceo of Fight the New Drug, said, “The whole idea of Fight the New Drug is to help young people make educated decisions on the topic of porn. To change the conversation from ‘dude check this out’ to ‘dude that’s not cool and here’s why.’”
“I hope and pray that Fight the New Drug will provide a great movement in our community to ramp up empowering all of us to more proactively pursue and provide protection, knowledge, prevention, and expanded opportunities for those in need of healing,” said Gray.
Four days of events planned
Live the life, an organization dedicated to changing young lives and strengthening marriages, will host Fight the New Drug in South Florida for a series of events on March 28th – 31st. They will appear during school assemblies at Westminster Academy, Spanish River Christian School and Calvary Christian Academy. Adult presentations open to the public will be held on Wednesday, March 29 at Spanish River Church in Boca Raton and on Thursday, March 30 at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale. They will begin at 6:30 p.m. and include a one hour Fight the New Drug presentation followed by a panel Q & A from sexual addiction expert and psychologist Dr. Brent Gray, FTND Program Director, Craig Baker and a government official with expertise concerning the ramifications of pornography in our communities.
All students in 6th – 12th grades are invited to an open Fight the New Drug presentation featuring Christian hip hop artists Social Club Misfits on Friday, March 31 from 7 – 10 p.m. at First Fort Lauderdale, located at 301 E. Broward Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale.
During a recorded presentation, Olsen tells teens, “You’ve learned that using drugs can actually mess you up. We’re going through a very similar lesson regarding pornography. You see when someone views pornography it enters through the eyes. Inside of each of our brains we have this reward pathway and when we do something cool – something we enjoy or like – whether it be out with friends, playing sports or music — pleasure chemicals are released between those neuro-connectors and it’s like this is amazing. I want to keep doing this. This is good, this is healthy. This is normal. But here’s the kicker: This part of the brain can be hijacked. And over time as you keep feeding it these behaviors or these substances, your brain rewires itself, changes and alters to the point where to just feel normal you need more of what you’ve been feeding it, more often and in a more hard core version.”
The program is very scientifically based on the affects of pornography, and points to studies showing it can lead to anxiety, depression, compulsion and sometimes illegal behavior, but ultimately porn kills love. That’s the overarching message.
Parental involvement encouraged
Dr. Gray encourages the church, spouses and parents to attend the sessions so they can be proactively educating our children sexually. “Social media has given access to kids at such a young age and it’s now only a click away and seemingly anonymous.”
Gray said we need to ask, “Is our relationship with loved ones safe enough to discuss things? How do we respond when we find out something? Is it with love and patience or a reactive response that makes it difficult for things to come out?”
To those parents afraid that bringing up the topic of porn will cause children to seek it out, “I would say make a choice. Do you want them to hear it from you first or the world first? I have found that when you bring it into the light in a loving way, it brings confidence and trust and sets the tone going forward,” Gray responded.
“Research conducted by Josh McDowell based on 3,000 interviews found that 67 percent of males and 33 percent of females interviewed between the ages of 13-24 reported they use porn, daily, weekly or monthly,” said Gray.
“We’ve removed sexuality from the intimacy God designed for it and made it about sexual intensity instead of sexual intimacy, which I like to call in-to-me-see,” said Gray. “What we are finding are young people who are unable to achieve an orgasm with a real person because they’ve trained their brain to respond to certain materials, which speaks to their mental health and the physiological damage this is doing.”
He adds, “While pornography is a progressive addiction in that you need more deviant or more of the same to get a high from the experience, what we miss is that it is lonely, isolating and shaming behavior that is doing real physiological harm. Some say, ‘I’m not that bad,’ but the secrecy over time decreases intimacy in the relationship with the person they want to build a future.”
Gray defines addiction as continued use despite adverse consequences. “That says I need help, but until it gets brought into the light and I learn other behavioral solutions, I continue to wrestle with it.”
On a more encouraging note, Gray concluded, “There is hope in that the brain is moldable. It has more cells than the stars, and while we can’t erase the damage, we can build new connections and bring healing.”
For more articles by Shelly Pond, please visit goodnewsfl.org/author/shelly/