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What the ”Fight the New Drug” Billboards Mean

If you've seen "Fight the New Drug" billboards around your town, you might be wondering what "Fight the New Drug" means and what these billboards are all about. Allow us to explain. 

“Fight the New Drug.”

If you’ve seen these billboards around your town, you might be wondering what “Fight the New Drug” means and what these billboards are all about. Allow us to explain.

Decades of studies from respected institutions have demonstrated significant impacts of porn consumption on individuals, relationships, and society. As porn becomes increasingly normalized, education on its well-documented harms becomes increasingly important. This grassroots movement was founded in 2009 by four passionate college students ready to change the conversation about pornography.

Fight the New Drug (FTND) is a non-religious and non-legislative nonprofit that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects using only science, facts, and personal accounts.

Think of it this way: most people are exposed to porn at an early age before they’ve been educated on the decades of science and research demonstrating porn’s harms on consumers, relationships, and society. We exist to educate individuals on the harms of porn, so they can make an educated decision on whether they’d like to consume it or not.

Get The Facts

Why do we call porn “the new drug?”

In case you’re not a neurosurgeon, here’s a crash course on how a few parts of the brain work.

Deep inside the brain, there’s something called a reward center. You’ve got one. Your dog’s got one. A monkey’s got one. The reward center’s job is to release a pleasure chemical called dopamine into our brains in response to behaviors that we perceive as positive, like eating tasty food, getting in a good workout, or enjoying a kiss.

Dopamine tells our brain, “Hey, this is a good thing! Keep doing this thing!” And it sends that message in such a powerful way, we become hardwired to do whatever things trigger this process. Normally, it’s a great system. The problem, however, is that this process can be hijacked.Costumero, V., Barrós-Loscertales, A., Bustamante, J. C., Ventura-Campos, N., Fuentes, P., Rosell-Negre, P., & Ávila, C. (2013). Reward sensitivity is associated with brain activity during erotic stimulus processing. PloS one, 8(6), e66940. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0066940Copy De Sousa, A., & Lodha, P. (2017). Neurobiology of Pornography Addiction - A clinical review. Telangana Journal of Psychiatry, 3(2), 66-70. doi:10.18231/2455-8559.2017.0016Copy 

Related: How Porn Can Affect the Brain Like a Drug

When someone uses an addictive drug, that drug uses the same dopamine process as part of the high, flooding your brain with feelings of pleasure and positive reinforcement. Your hardworking brain then immediately starts doing its job: developing a preference for whatever produced those feelings and rewiring itself to find and experience those feelings again. This creates a feedback loop that leads us to develop and seek out preferred ways of triggering that flood of happy-making chemicals.Brand, M., Snagowski, J., Laier, C., & Maderwald, S. (2016). Ventral striatum activity when watching preferred pornographic pictures is correlated with symptoms of Internet pornography addiction. NeuroImage, 129, 224–232. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.01.033Copy De Sousa, A., & Lodha, P. (2017). Neurobiology of Pornography Addiction - A clinical review. Telangana Journal of Psychiatry, 3(2), 66-70. doi:10.18231/2455-8559.2017.0016Copy 

Ironic, right? The very thing that is supposed to reinforce healthy actions and behaviors is being co-opted for a drug’s high—and that’s not even the worst part.

The more the dopamine process is stimulated, the more it can begin to warp an individual’s perception of the world around them. Seemingly everyday items and situations—maybe particular smells, images, or places—can become triggers that spike the desire and cravings for whatever brings on the next high.De Sousa, A., & Lodha, P. (2017). Neurobiology of Pornography Addiction - A clinical review. Telangana Journal of Psychiatry, 3(2), 66-70. doi:10.18231/2455-8559.2017.0016Copy Rosenberg, H., & Kraus, S. (2014). The relationship of “passionate attachment” for pornography with sexual compulsivity, frequency of use, and craving for pornography. Addictive Behaviors, 39(5), 1012-1017.Copy Snagowski, J., Laier, C., Duka, T., & Brand, M. (2016). Subjective Craving for Pornography and Associative Learning Predict Tendencies Towards Cybersex Addiction in a Sample of Regular Cybersex Users. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 23(4), 342-360. doi:10.1080/10720162.2016.1151390Copy 

Want to know what else can spark this same process in the brain? You got it: porn.

Porn can trigger this process endlessly because it is endlessly available. Just like addictive products such as tobacco, porn can create pathways within the brain that lead to cravings, and those cravings can push consumers to search longer and more diligently for the same level of “high.”Laier, C., & Brand, M. (2017). Mood changes after watching pornography on the Internet are linked to tendencies towards Internet-pornography-viewing disorder. Addictive Behaviors Reports, 5, 9-13. doi:10.1016/j.abrep.2016.11.003Copy  What’s worse is that the amount of dopamine that floods the brain only increases with repeated consumption. Each time a consumer turns to porn, they increase their cravings for more. But as the consumer’s brain is gaining this increased desire, it’s losing something else.

Related: How Porn Can Become an Escalating Behavior

One interesting study was divided into two parts. In the first part, heavy porn consumers were shown to be less capable of valuing long-term rewards over short-term ones. But in a clever twist, the researchers divided those participants into two groups for the second part of the study. Half were asked to abstain from porn for two weeks. The other half were asked to abstain from their favorite food. Even though both groups were exercising self-control for two weeks, only those who abstained from porn improved their scores in their ability to appreciate long-term rewards, showing that porn uniquely affects consumers’ patterns of self-control. In other words, self-control was not the key factor—porn was the key factor. The implication is that porn consumption did not simply correlate to hypofrontality. Porn consumption caused hypofrontality.Negash, S., Sheppard, N. V., Lambert, N. M., & Fincham, F. D. (2016). Trading Later Rewards for Current Pleasure: Pornography Consumption and Delay Discounting. Journal of sex research, 53(6), 689–700. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2015.1025123Copy 

So not only can porn create a feedback loop of cravings and desire, it can simultaneously decrease the brain’s ability to keep those cravings in check.Hilton, D. L., & Watts, C. (2011). Pornography addiction: A neuroscience perspective. Surgical neurology international, 2, 19. https://doi.org/10.4103/2152-7806.76977Copy 

Fast Facts

The good news is, change is possible! Research and the experiences of thousands of people have demonstrated that the negative effects of pornography can be managed and largely reversed.Young K. S. (2013). Treatment outcomes using CBT-IA with Internet-addicted patients. Journal of behavioral addictions, 2(4), 209–215. https://doi.org/10.1556/JBA.2.2013.4.3Copy Nathanson, A. (2021). Psychotherapy with young people addicted to internet pornography. Psychoanal.Study Child, 74(1), 160-173. doi:10.1080/00797308.2020.1859286Copy  In fact, even in cases of serious substance and other addictions, research shows that the brain can heal over time with sustained effort.Pfefferbaum, A., Rosenbloom, M. J., Chu, W., Sassoon, S. A., Rohlfing, T., Pohl, K. M., Zahr, N. M., & Sullivan, E. V. (2014). White matter microstructural recovery with abstinence and decline with relapse in alcohol dependence interacts with normal ageing: a controlled longitudinal DTI study. The lancet. Psychiatry, 1(3), 202–212. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(14)70301-3Copy Yau, Y. H., & Potenza, M. N. (2015). Gambling disorder and other behavioral addictions: recognition and treatment. Harvard review of psychiatry, 23(2), 134–146. https://doi.org/10.1097/HRP.0000000000000051Copy Rullmann, M., Preusser, S., Poppitz, S., Heba, S., Gousias, K., Hoyer, J., Schütz, T., Dietrich, A., Müller, K., Hankir, M. K., & Pleger, B. (2019). Adiposity Related Brain Plasticity Induced by Bariatric Surgery. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 13, 290. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2019.00290Copy  Research also indicates that, while guilt can motivate healthy change, shame actually fuels problematic porn habits.Gilliland, R., South, M., Carpenter, B. N., & Hardy, S. A. (2011). The roles of shame and guilt in hypersexual behavior.18(1), 12-29. doi:10.1080/10720162.2011.551182Copy  So if you’re trying to give up porn, be kind to yourself and be patient with your progress. Because of neuroplasticity, the amazing human brain has the ability to change itself in both directions.

Related: Why Porn Can Be Difficult to Quit

Like anything, it takes time for the brain to recover, but daily efforts make a big difference in the long run. Think of it like a muscle that gets bigger and stronger the more you use it—the longer you stay away from porn, the easier it becomes. All it takes is practice.

Fight the New Drug is an educational and awareness-raising organization.

Since 2009, we have existed with the purpose of providing individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects using only science, facts, and personal accounts.

We do this not by conducting our own research but by aggregating and giving a platform to the existing quality science and research that exists. We share this research online via social media, and our team presents this research in schools and youth forums around the world to educate individuals about the harmful effects of porn.

Related: 10 Things Everyone Needs to Know About Fight the New Drug

A great place to start diving into the available information is by reading our Get the Facts articles, listening to our Consider Before Consuming podcast, checking out our constantly-updated blog, and visiting TruthAboutPorn.org where we catalog the latest peer-reviewed research that illustrates porn’s harmful nature. You can also watch our documentary series, Brain, Heart, Worldfor free to learn more about how porn impacts individuals, relationships, and society.

FTND Resources

Fight the New Drug has no religious affiliation.

Our mission is and has always been to use only science, facts, and personal accounts to educate and raise awareness about the harms of porn. We are extremely intentional in making sure that everything we create, repost, share, or promote is aligned with our mission.

We invite people from all backgrounds or beliefs to apply what they learn from this movement to their own lives and encourage all of our supporters to remain respectful of the diverse backgrounds of our supporters.

Ultimately, we’re raising awareness on this from a public health perspective, and this is information that we think anyone should be able to access, regardless of any diversifying factor.

Fight the New Drug has no legislative agenda and does not seek to ban porn.

We are educating and raising awareness, first and foremost, and we are not out to ban or censor porn.

We support efforts to protect children from easily accessing hardcore pornography. However, FTND does not work to take away adults’ rights to view legal forms of pornography.

Related: Why Fight the New Drug’s Goal Doesn’t Involve Banning Porn

Our goal from day one has been to decrease the demand for porn and sexual exploitation through education, not legislation. We believe in empowering individuals through education to make their own informed decisions about pornography.

How to get involved

First, educate yourself! The best way to educate others on the harms of porn is to become educated yourself! We have tons of free educational resources to help ramp up your knowledge of this issue, including our Get The Facts articles, Consider Before Consuming podcast, or Truth About Porn research database.

Live Presentations

Educate your community! If you’re looking for a way to help raise awareness on the harms of porn in your community, consider hosting a live presentation by Fight the New Drug! We’ll send one of our certified presenters to your school, company, or community event so they can present the harms of porn in an engaging and age-appropriate live event. As an organization, we’ve held thousands of live events, with over 1 million audience members, in various places across the globe. Learn more by requesting more information here.

Not quite ready to book a presentation? You can still host a live event to educate your community on the harms of porn by hosting a screening of our documentary, Brain, Heart, WorldThis documentary features science, research, and personal stories demonstrating the harms of porn, but in a light-hearted, educational, and entertaining way. You can purchase a public screening license available for 30 days, 1 year, or lifetime access. Learn more about our public screening licenses here.

If you’re looking for more ideas on how to get involved in this global grassroots movement, we invite you to explore our resources or find more ideas in this article.

Related: Join the Movement: 10 Ways You Can Get Involved

Support the movement

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, we rely on generous donations from our supporters to mobilize this movement! Throughout the years, and through the support of our Fighters, we’ve been able to educate countless individuals on the harms of pornography and sexual exploitation with our educational resources!

When you donate to Fight the New Drug, your donation goes directly toward helping us create free educational resources that help individuals make an educated decision regarding pornography.