The Link Between Addiction and Sexual Health
While there may be some drugs that initially enhance the sexual experience, even that increase of pleasure is only temporary. Once an addiction begins to take hold, an individual’s sexuality can be deeply effective and in some very negative ways. The individual, whether male or female, can lose interest in sexual activity altogether or may be unable to perform. There are a few factors that can contribute to the sexual dysfunction caused by addiction.
Addiction Causes Stress and Emotional Turmoil
Even before substance abuse develops into a diagnosable addiction, it has already become a problem for the individual. The person may have started using drugs or alcohol as a means of coping with a pre-existing mental disorder, which suggests some difficulty in managing emotions. In these cases, substance abuse allows the person to self-medicate and, while they may think they feel better, the underlying problems are still present. This type of emotional turmoil can inhibit one’s interest in sex to the point where they may attempt to avoid sexual intercourse or may not be able to perform.
Similarly, substance abuse leads to higher levels of stress, as the individual attempts to hide his or her problem. The individual will be overly concerned with hiding the substance use from family members, friends, and co-workers, which will cause the person to feel more tense and overstressed. A person suffering from too much stress, even where substance abuse isn’t a problem, will be disinterested in sexuality.
There May Be No Time for Sex
The individual may also find that they don’t have enough time in the day for sexual interests between work, social responsibilities, and their substance use. Simply obtaining drugs or alcohol is a very time consuming activity. Even after the substance is obtained, the user will likely spend the rest of that day using the substance and hiding from his or her loved ones. This leaves little or no time for sexual activity, even if the individual doesn’t end up passing out from the effects of the substance use.
In some cases, an addiction can lead to a loss of employment, but that doesn’t leave anymore time for sexual activity. Instead, the individual will be busy looking for another source of income, which may ultimately lead them to crime. The added stress of turning to criminal activities can also inhibit interest in sex. They may spend much of their time trying to make money to spend on their habit, so, even if they do have an interest in sexual intercourse, they won’t have the time for it.
Physical Effects of Substance Use
In addition to the previously mentioned factors, one’s sexuality can be impacted by the physical effects of addition or substance use. For instance, alcohol consumption can make it difficult for men to achieve or maintain ban erection. While this is usually a temporary condition, prolonged abuse of alcohol can have lasting effects and may contribute to a more serious type of erectile dysfunction.
Additionally, the overuse of some drugs can result in a loss of the ability to experience physical sensation or may cause heart-related medical conditions. Opiates in particular can cause an individual to develop pulmonary distress, which inhibits the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to the lungs. These are just a few of the issues that can affect one’s physical ability to perform sexually.
Drug Use and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Finally, an addict may find that he or she cannot have sex for moral reasons. The promiscuity and unsafe
sex practices common among alcohol and drug addicts opens them up to contracting a number of sexually transmitted diseases. Gonorrhea, hepatitis, syphilis, and AIDS are just a few of the diseases to which people become more susceptible through high risk behaviors.
When an individual does contract one of these illnesses, their ability to have sex may be curtailed or prohibited altogether. Many sexually transmitted diseases still cannot be cured, so having sex means passing that illness onto a partner. While medication can treat the symptoms of the disease in many cases, it still cannot prevent the individual from spreading the disease.
While substance use may seem to enhance the sexual experience in some cases, it can ultimately have lasting negative effects on one’s sexuality. Both libido and the ability to perform can be affected, causing conditions that may require medical treatment to resolve. This is another reason it’s important to seek treatment for an addiction as soon as possible. If an individual enters recovery early enough, some of these conditions may be reversible.