Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll?

You hear all the time that alcohol and drug use can lower your inhibitions. Many people say including substances in their sexuality can really enhance their experience. While others talk about the negative impact on sexual experiences.

The connection between sex and drugs and decision making:


In the US, you must be 21 years old to drink alcohol legally. Underage drinking can have serious legal, social, and psychological consequences. Binge drinking, 5 or more drinks in one sitting, is becoming more of a normalized in the millennial generation, but also has health consequences. Even though it is legal after the age of 21 responsible drinking is rarely taught and many people cross their limits before understanding themselves and alcohol better. There are some generalized effects of alcohol, but alcohol and other substances affect everyone differently.

The initial effects of alcohol really help lower people’s inhibitions by slowing the frontal lobe part of your brain that thinks long term and may overthink intimate situations. Some people worry about what they look like naked, how they will perform during sex, etc. Those worries are normal, but excess anxiety interferes with your ability to be in the moment and be the sexiest version of yourself.

The benefits of alcohol on sex are not in an additive way. Often the more you drink, the worse the sex. Getting sloppy is not sexy. Not being in control of your body and decision making can make for really bad sex and does not qualify as consensual sex. Drinking too much can lead to lack of arousal commonly called whiskey dick as evidence of erectile dysfunction after have drank too much or lack of lubrication in women. Stick to the 1-2 drinks that helps ease the stressors of the day from the focus of your brain and open you up to feel more in the moment and accepting of pleasure.

The key is to feel the relaxation effects of alcohol without having too much that it shuts down all the physical sensations and physiological processes you need working to have good sex because of the depressant effects on the brain.   

Alcohol has shown to be stimulant for the first and second drinks, but then begins to be a depressant. There is more individual difference among how alcohol impacts sexuality than to make blanket statements about alcohol infused sessions.

Many people put drinking alcohol and promiscuity together, however it is not as causal as the myth implies. In short, people who are more likely to enjoy sensation seeking behaviors like drinking at the bar or parties also enjoy seeking sex in a variety of ways.

Another benefit of alcohol is that it decreases your inhibitions, thus enabling you to start a conversation or or say something without worrying about how the other person might respond.  Alcohol helps shy people act bolder about their actual thoughts and feelings.    Alcohol can be a huge aid in the dating world. As a word of caution alcohol can lower inhibitions too much and you may find yourself making dangerous decisions. Going home with a stranger, sex before you are ready to emotionally handle it, using protection, having conversations about having safe sex, STI status, etc. Relying on alcohol to relax you actually acts as a depressant. Long term use of alcohol is a depressant and causes people to have low energy.

In heavier doses (depending on tolerance, weight, food intake, and experience for each person), alcohol can impair the ability to get aroused and/or orgasm. In the depressant stages of drinking alcohol, it also slows blood flow and important neurological processes essential for healthy sexual functioning. Men struggle to maintain erections birthing the phrase whiskey dick while women have trouble lubricating to be wet enough for sex to feel good.

Like alcohol, drugs alter your brain. With drugs, this process directly affects the reward centers in your brain via dopamine impacting your motivation and pleasure that you also experience during sober sex.


Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit (illegal) drug in the world. Medical marijuana ha become legal in more and more states, but recreational marijuana use is only legal in a few states.  The connection between marijuana and sexuality has been inconsistent and contradictory in the research. Many people report heightened sensitivity to their sensory experiences. Some people directly connect weed with better sex and incorporate it into their sex lives healthily. Others have had negative experiences putting them in risky situations where their response time is slowed and felt unable to make smart sexual decisions. Some struggle with arousal and orgasm similar to the delayed effects of alcohol. Others excitedly report the delay in orgasm as a way to prolong the sensuality of sexual experiences by focusing less on intercourse and more on other intimate, sexy ways to be together. Daily or long term use of marijuana can impact reproductive issue by decreasing male sperm count and the follicle stimulating hormone impacting fertility on the female side.


Cocaine blocks dopamine transporters to experience pleasure and rewards longer in the brain often increasing orgasms. Short term, this can be a great addition for you and your partner. Long term as tolerance builds and your brain is used to cocaine interfering with natural pleasure centers process, cocaine can hinder your sexual desire overall. Cocaine creates the best orgasms. Super intense.  Too much or too frequent has the opposite effect and can hinder sexual desire. Cocaine use is illegal.


Methamphetamine creates a dopamine surge in the brain while shutting down other neurological transporters for normal physiological processes. There are greater sexual risk taking behaviors associated with Meth than alcohol and other drugs. Meth is concocted with many different substances adding to the danger in its effects due to not knowing fully how you respond to different mixes.

Women report increase in desire and pleasure, while men report erectile dysfunction or delayed ejaculation. Pairing Meth with Viagra has become popular to counteract the short term effects and help sex.


MDMA is often considered a love drug. Some of the first marriage and family therapists actually prescribed MDMA to help couples achieve more intimacy. However, it too is now illegal. MDMA impacts the brain’s serotonin levels responsible for people’s relaxation and connection with others. Some say once you have sex on MDMA, sober sex changes. However, the research indicates that the generalized impact of MDMA on people’s sexuality is heightening their sensuality and not a significant change on the desire or pleasure during sexual intercourse.


Opioids are a category of substances produce morphine effects and come in many different types of prescription and controlled substances which have high potential for abuse. Some are legal with prescription and others are illicit and cut with varieties of other substances. Opiates in smaller doses tend to increase people’s interpretation about sexual experiences. Often feel hornier, able to last longer, and feel different sensations. A lot of research has looked into the decreases in sexual desire, response, and orgasms for both men and women within opiate addiction treatment. Opiates have also been associated as causes of erectile and ejaculatory dysfunction in men.



Research reinforces the chronic use across all drugs decreases sexual functioning of arousal and orgasm by impacting the body’s normal physiological processes. Reasons for the impact of alcohol and drug use on sexuality come from the actual mind-altering effects of the substance on the brain and others in the expectancy effects you expect to occur from the substance. Long term alcohol and drug use is also connected with anxiety and depression which impact your sexuality negatively.

Be smart, safe, and sane about sexual decisions before taking any substance. Know your surroundings and have people you trust know where you are and what you plan to do. Consent under the influence is a complicated issue. Many states’ laws include intoxication under alcohol or any substance as a violation of consent for sexual activity. With two intoxicated partners proving sexual assault or rape is even more complex.

To protect yourself and the partner you choose, have conversations about your sexual decision making before intoxication. It may sound unexciting to prepare for it in that way, but having it planned out can help you and your partner use substances in the disinhibiting way you want it to without the fear or guilt that could come up by making sexual decisions you did not intend to has on yourself or others.