Countless television shows, movies and books have glorified certain aspects of drug use and sex. Some drugs like ecstasy and cocaine are portrayed as if they actually enhance sex, and for some people this might be true. However, that enhancement is short-lived and the sexual and reproductive consequences of long term drug use and drug addiction set in. The reality is that addiction can damage or destroy a person’s sexual functions. Because sexual health is a critical part of a well-adjusted human being, understanding the impact of addiction on sex is vital for both chronic and occasional drug users.
Addiction and Sex: Decreased Libido
Most long term drug users and addicts report a decreased libido – especially women. This is largely attributed to drugs like marijuana, cocaine and heroin that cause hormonal disruptions. Most commonly these disruptions involve a decrease in testosterone – a sexual regulator that controls desire and libido. However, being an addict is extremely stressful mentally, physically and emotionally, so both men and women experience decreased sexual desire as a result.
Erectile dysfunction in men caused by drug addiction can sometimes be confused with a decreased libido as the male attempts to mask the problem by not having sex. In most cases erectile dysfunction is caused by low testosterone levels as a result of drug use, but can also be caused by circulatory and pulmonary issues caused by most opiates like heroin, morphine and Oxycontin.
Drug Addiction and Risky Sexual Behavior
While most drugs do not increase a person’s libido or desire for sex, they will alter a person’s behavior to include risky types of sexual behavior that put them at risk of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV. In fact, the AIDS Behavioral Research Project concluded that there is “. . . a strong relationship between drug and alcohol use during sex and non-compliance with safe sex techniques to prevent the spread of AIDS.”(1) Additionally, many people report significantly lowered inhibitions, inclination to promiscuity, sexual favors in exchange for drugs or money for drugs, or engaging in sexual activities that are not normal for them.
Drug Use and Rape
Drug use and addiction has been associated with increased likelihood of rape and sexual assault. Often this is a result of being too intoxicated to give consent, or because drugs are often used in dangerous environments and with people who are more prone to engage in violence. This can have serious ramifications for the sexual health of a person long after they stop using drugs. According to The REACH Center, “Teens with drug/alcohol problems are 18-21 times more likely to be sexually abused,”(2) which indicates that people who begin using drugs early are most at risk of rape.
Drug Use and Sexual Dysfunction
Sexual dysfunction brought on by drug use and addiction is quite common. Long-term heroin and methamphetamine addicts report that when compared with their drug of choice, sex simply isn’t interesting. Users of other drugs like ecstasy report that because experiences on the drug were so intense, it made it difficult to “feel anything” – including sex – when not using the drug. And because many drugs cause a person to feel anxious, paranoid, or self-conscious, sex just doesn’t seem like an option.
If you care about your sexual health, you must seek help immediately if you have a drug addiction problem. An inpatient substance abuse treatment program could be exactly what you need to take back your life and get clean. Call our Florida Drug Rehab Center right now for a free consultation about what we can do for you.
(1) Ron Stall, PhD, MPH Leon McKusick, PhD James Wiley, PhD Thomas J. Coates, PhD David G. Ostrow, MD, PhD Alcohol and Drug Use During Sexual Activity and Compliance with Safe Sex Guidelines for AIDS
(2) The REACH Center, INC Sexual Assault/Rape and Substance Abuse