Drugs and Libido: The Short- and Long-Term Effects
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Drugs and Libido The Short- and Long-Term Effects

Some types of drugs increase sexual feelings, and that leads to more hookups and better sex. But other drugs can kill your libido, and that could harm both your relationships and your health.

In most cases, your normal sex drive will return when you put down the drugs and start living a sober life. But there is one drug that can affect your libido for months or even years.

In this article, we’ll explain the link between your libido and:

  • Alcohol
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Opioids

Alcohol and Your Sex Life

Alcohol is often associated with romance. Couples pop open champagne to celebrate anniversaries, and it’s not unusual for booze-filled parties to create couples of perfect strangers.

But alcohol’s relationship with your libido is dose dependent. The more you drink, the bigger the impact.

We’ve been bombarded with alcohol marketing messages for decades, and researchers once thought we tend to experience what we expect when we drink. If we think we’ll have a better time, we will. If we think alcohol makes for lousy sex, that’s what will happen. But new studies suggest that alcohol can, and does, interfere with satisfying sex.

In the short term, alcohol can adjust your:

  • You might have sex with people you’d avoid while sober. You might also take risks with sex, such as going without protection, that your sober self would never allow.
  • Alcohol slows down your nervous system, and you need that pathway to function at peak capacity to experience the full benefit of sex. Your body might be participating, but you might not get release.
  • Men who drink to excess can experience impotence, and alcohol can cause vaginal dryness in women.

Stop drinking, and some of these problems will fade. You’ll no longer engage in risky sex, for example, and your sensitivity might return.

But researchers say some alcohol problems persist in sobriety. In a study that included 905 men, their difficulties went with them into sobriety. They struggled with impotence and poor performance weeks after they got sober.

Opioids and Your Sex Life

Drugs like Vicodin, OxyContin, and heroin slow down the nervous system and boost pleasure chemicals in the brain. This combination of relaxation and euphoria should put you in the mood for great sex. But that isn’t true for everyone.

The research on opioids and sex is complicated. Many people who take these drugs do so because they’re dealing with pain, and that could make physical intimacy unappealing. Other people who take these drugs experience full-blown depression due to the changes the medication causes. They also may not want to have sex because they’re just not up to it.

So there is no definitive study on how opioids change your sex life. But small studies have found a link between people who take these substances and:

  • Low desire.
  • Erectile dysfunction.
  • Reduced enjoyment of sex.

Quitting opioids can, and often will, help your brain to heal and your libido to return. No studies suggest that the damage done by opioids is a permanent sex killer.

poor sex life

Cocaine and Your Sex Life

Cocaine has long been associated with sex. Think about the drug-fueled disco era, when everyone seemed to emerge from the bathroom wiping their noses and looking for a new sex partner. But of all the drugs we’re profiling in this article, cocaine is the most dangerous to your healthy, satisfying sex life.

Cocaine is associated with sex because it can:

  • Lower inhibitions. You’ll do things you might never do while sober.
  • Improve confidence. You won’t worry about how you look or sound or move.
  • Enhance sensory information. Touches will be easier to perceive.
  • Raise pain thresholds. You’ll be able to endure more without feeling discomfort.

Some of the attributes that lead to better sex can also lead to poor health. Rough sex with strangers can lead to sexually transmitted diseases, including versions that stick with you forever. Cocaine can also change your brain in a way that leads to long-term problems with sex.

People who take a lot of cocaine for a long period experience deep brain cell damage. They have an inability to feel pleasure or joy as their tissues heal. With that damage in place, they may not be willing to have sex with anyone. And if they do, they may not enjoy it.

There is no treatment for this lasting depression, but counseling can help to ease the distress.

Marijuana and Your Sex Life

Marijuana is one of the oldest drugs of abuse, yet there have been few studies on how it changes your brain, your body, and your sex drive. Those who have been performed are contradictory, and that can leave you confused about how the mix will impact you.

Researchers writing in Science Daily say that marijuana can be considered an “unpredictable” factor in sex. Some people experience a rush of blood and a sense of connectedness, and that makes their experience much more pleasurable. Others can’t move blood at all, so they can’t achieve arousal in the first place. That leads to an incredibly negative sex experience.

If marijuana does ruin your sex life, things should get better when you quit. Your body can heal, and your responses can return. But this drug can also cause depression during withdrawal, so it might take time before you’re ready to have sex with anyone.

How to Get Your Mojo Back

When you’re dealing with addiction, sex is the last thing on your mind. You’re trying to keep your home and your family intact, and taking drugs complicates that. But if a loss of performance and drive is ruining your relationships, that could be just the prompt you need to enter treatment.

The goal of a treatment plan is to ease the transition from intoxication to sobriety. That can help you get sober without feeling ill, and once you are, you can move on to the next phase of healing.

In treatment, you’ll pick up techniques that can help you to preserve your newfound sobriety. You’ll have counseling sessions, group work, and more to help you find your way forward.

In time, your sex drive can return. And sober sex could lead to a level of intimacy you just haven’t experienced while intoxicated. It’s definitely worth fighting for.

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