Fight the New Drug changing the conversation about porn

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Facebook/Fight the New Drug
Fight the New Drug provides information about pornography’s harmful effects through social media campaigns.

A tiny sixth grade girl sitting in the front row of a crowd of middle schoolers caught Clay Olsen’s eye. As he gave his presentation on the harmful effects of pornography, he couldn’t help but look at her and think, “For sure, she’s never seen this, and for sure it hasn’t impacted her life.”

But the girl ran up to Olsen at the end of the presentation with tears streaming down her face. She told him that she had been struggling with pornography for a long time, and until that day, she didn’t know where to turn.

This reminded Olsen that pornography is not an addiction that fits a stereotype — it crosses all boundaries.

The movement begins 

Olsen is the CEO of Fight the New Drug, a movement that started with four college students. They had started the Entrepreneurs Dedicated to Great Endeavors club (EDGE) and during a routine meeting one group member suggested that he would eventually like to produce a billboard about the harmful effects of pornography.

Olsen had watched a family member suffer from pornography addiction.

“I was well aware of what pornography could lead to in one’s life and when that came up it kind of hit me like a ton of bricks,” Olsen said.

As the group seriously considered this idea, a big question arose.

“We wondered why no one was talking about this topic in a way that connects with youth or a way that pulls it into a public health discussion rather than a moralistic dialogue,” Olsen said.

The original plan was to create a billboard, but the group decided to film a documentary because of Olsen’s film and marketing background.

The students met with experts, including neuroscientists and therapists, to discuss the effects of pornography. “We found there was a lot of data supporting the idea that pornography was, in fact, harmful,” Olsen said.

Armed with the facts about the dangers of pornography, Olsen turned to his new ad agency to launch Fight the New Drug. The goal of the movement was to raise awareness about the harmful effects of pornography and to make it “cool” for youth to openly oppose pornography.

“We were naive enough to jump on board with it and run with it, and thank goodness,” said Olsen, who now works full-time with Fight the New Drug. The campaign has found success online by selling merchandise with the motto “Porn Kills Love.”

Programs to help overcome pornography addiction 

Olsen worked with Fight the New Drug to spread the campaign message in schools. He received emails from kids as young as 8 years old pleading for help overcoming their pornography addictions. As the program directed these students to pornography addiction recovery programs, they discovered that almost all of the recovery programs required at least one of two things: adult consent or a credit card. Most of these young students didn’t have access to a credit card, and almost all of them were uncomfortable asking an adult for help.

After about a year, 8,000 people had contacted the group seeking help in recovering from their pornography addictions. These numbers motivated Olsen’s team to create their own recovery program, even though Fight the New Drug was only intended to be a movement, not a support group.

Fight the New Drug raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and put together a team of experts to create the Fortify program. The online program is free for youth under age of 20. A year after Fortify was launched, not a single penny had been spent on marketing, but 16,000 youths were using the program.

Soon after Fight the New Drug created the Fortify youth program, the campaign designed a similar program for adults over age 21. Lifetime access to the program costs $39.

What it takes

Olsen recognizes that these programs alone may not be enough to help people overcome a pornography addiction. When loved ones face substance addictions, he said, the first response is generally to seek professional help. He feels the response to pornography addictions should be the same.

“This is not something that can be changed by sheer willpower,” Olsen said. “We need to start treating pornography addiction like we treat other addictions.”

Three things are completely necessary to overcoming an addiction to pornography: First, individuals need to realize there is hope. Second, those addicted to pornography need to realize that recovery is possible. The third key to recovery is for individuals to be accountable, he said.

“They need to open up to a religious leader, a spouse, a parent or a trusted close confidant and friend,” Olsen said.

#PornKillsLove

Fight the New Drug has over 1.2 million likes on Facebook, 88,000 Instagram followers and 24,000 Twitter followers. The campaign’s social media accounts promote #PornKillsLove and #FightforLove to inform the world about the harmful effects of porn.

Olsen said the group’s message is not confined to a single demographic.

“Pornography affects every state and every culture,” Olsen said. “Porn affects individuals with all different political backgrounds, sexual orientations. It really crosses all social and economic demographics. Whether you’re in Utah or New York City, pornography is having an enormous impact on all people,” Olsen said.

Student involvement with the Fight the New Drug campaign is key, he said.

“Our whole mission with Fight the New Drug is to change the conversation from ‘Dude, check this out!’ to ‘Dude, that’s messed up,’ or ‘Dude, that’s not cool.’ We want to change the way that youth think about porn,” Olsen said.

Those interested in contributing to the Fight the New Drug campaign can learn more on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Fightthenewdrug.org.

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