Is porn the new drug?

Photo by Kaatje Henrick

Clay Olsen (middle) and Campus Church.

There are many different types of addiction: drugs, television, technology – and potentially, porn.

Clay Olsen, the founder of Fight the New Drug, recently spoke to about a hundred students and guests at Durham College about porn addiction.

“Porn is not a light topic and for some it is very difficult to talk about,” he says. “We want the topic to become something that people can have a conversation over without feeling judged.”

Fight the New Drug is an organization started by Olsen, who is from Salt Lake City, Utah, and some of his colleagues from college. His cousin struggled with porn addiction which Olsen says led him to act out in violent ways.

Olsen says his cousin was arrested and put in jail for a crime he committed due to his addiction. After his cousin was released, Olsen was curious about the research on this subject.

“I saw him in a rough place. He didn’t know who to speak to and cut everybody off. He started to act out in violent ways by solving his problems with physical abuse,” says Olsen. “That’s when I knew something had to change.”

His organization creates awareness among the public about pornography, and how it can have a negative impact on society and a person’s overall health.

According to Olsen, addiction to pornography harms in three ways: through the brain, the heart and everyday life.

The brain is constantly gathering new information and molding.

Addiction happens when people absorb information on a daily basis, and it becomes addictive because of the repetition, according to Olsen.

“It’s a reward centre in our brain, the chemicals like dopamine are released and they make you feel good, they make you want to do it again,” says Olsen.

Some people become physically or emotionally dependent on the source of their addiction, says Carl Legault, a psychotherapist and professor at Durham College.

“It may affect your life negatively, but it’s become such a compulsive action that you now depend on it. Your brain can no longer control its cravings to the source you’re addicted too,” says Legault.

Often when people have an addiction it ruins relationships with friends and family. It can also take a toll on self-esteem and self-worth, according to Legault.

He says the biggest impact is when someone lets the addiction consume them and they’re now dependant on it.

When an addict becomes addicted to a certain thing, they may live their life according to their addiction. “Addicts need the substance that they’re addicted to in order to feel good, or able to live,” says Legault.

Addiction to porn has been proven to often disrupt and ruin relationships, according to Olsen.

He says the relationship’s intimacy is no longer satisfactory because the addict is now looking for something that sparks their interest more than pornography.

He says in some cases, this may lead to acts of violence on the partner, or others.

Nick Doyle is a pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Oshawa who attended the event.

“I have seen it ruin many lives, and I hate seeing people’s life consumed by it,” he says.

Easy access to porn online is part of the challenge.

“With porn being on the internet and the internet being so accessible, it almost exponentially increases the views of porn within people,” says Legault.

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