Substance Abuse and Sexual Health.

Jun 28, 2021

For those who are struggling with substance abuse, there are many health impacts and concerns about disease transmission. However, aside from obvious problems caused by substance abuse, it can also impact their sexual health significantly. Those who abuse drugs and alcohol have a higher risk of physical side effects that affect not only sexual performance, but also the libido. People who struggle with substance abuse are also more likely to contract a sexually transmitted disease. Substance abuse affects them by causing lower inhibition levels, less situational awareness, less informed decision making, and even mental incapacity. It also leads to the risk of sexual assault being heightened. 

Substance Abuse and its astronomical effects on sexual health.

Sexual health is a broad subject. It is the state of physical and mental well-being that relates to a person’s sexuality. The core of sexual health involves a positive and respectful outlook and approach with sexual experiences, and involves being safety conscious. When your sexual health is at its peak, you are able to make consenting, informed decisions, and are physically and mentally able to consent to what you are doing. When you are incapacitated due to substance abuse and use, you cannot give consent informed and knowingly. Unfortunately, sexual activity while using substances can lead to more reliance on those substances to cope with the trauma caused, which leads to more trauma. It’s essentially a never-ending cycle. 

It’s important to seek addiction treatment to help you cope with substance abuse, the comedown that comes with it, and any trauma you may have experienced. 

What is the impact on sexual health when abusing substances?

When we think of substance abuse, we often think of drugs, but alcohol is actually considered a drug as well, and tends to be the major effector of men and their sexual health. Alcohol abuse can affect the ability to get and maintain an erection. Substance abuse also includes, but is not limited, to those who abuse cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and other substances. This can also include prescriptions such as painkillers.  Even after receiving treatment for substance abuse, studies have shown that men can struggle with sexual performance even years after receiving treatment. 

There are four major areas of sexual performance. These are desire, satisfaction, arousal, and orgasm. Overall, substance abusers tend to have a more impaired sexual performance level compared to those who did not use substances. 

substance abuse effects

The effects of abusing alcohol

Alcohol often causes what we call whiskey dick. Alcohol can have a direct and very long-lasting effect on not only arousal, but performance in the bedroom as a whole. 

Cocaine and its effects

Those who choose to partake in cocaine have higher levels of sexual desire and arousal. This may not sound like a bad thing, however, this can lead to poor decision-making such as unsafe sex, random hookups, and cheating on partners. 

Heroin use

Heroin is shown to affect orgasms, but also overall sexual performance. 

Marijuana use and its effects

Marijuana is a downer, which means that it can lower libido and arousal, as well as make sexual satisfaction harder to reach. Plus, it stays in the system longer than many other substances. 

What does substance abuse have to do with sexually transmitted diseases?

Those who abuse drugs or alcohol have been found to have a higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections and diseases. This is because substances impair you mentally, and can even cause you to lose awareness of reality. All of this equals poor decision-making, increasing the chances of an unsafe sexual encounter.

Alcohol is always at the top of this list because:

When you binge drink, you experience poor judgment, lowered inhibitions, and slower reactions both physically and mentally. You may not be able to register when someone is not consenting to sexual activity, which can lead to rape or sexual assault. You also may not be able to use protection, because your mind is not thinking clearly. This can lead to a much higher chance of contracting an STI.

Opioid addictions

Opioids are classified as prescription painkillers, heroin, and other items. Since some of these, like heroin, are injectable drugs, there is a higher chance of contracting HIV and Hepatitis C. Injectable drugs are often done with shared needles or multiple-use needles, which increases the chance of viral, blood-borne infections. 

Methamphetamine use

Meth abuse has been linked to people having riskier sex, and having multiple partners. This drug can also be injected, giving it the same risk as opioids for disease contraction. 

Cocaine and its effects

Cocaine is a stimulant that can cause intense energy. This often leads to risky decisions, as your body is hyper-stimulated and your judgment is impaired. 

When you abuse illicit drugs or alcohol, you also tend to spend more money, which puts you at financial risk. In turn, you may turn to sexual favors to get your fix, which also leads to a higher risk of contracting an STI. 

The increased risk of sexual assault amongst substance abusers

Because you are impaired, you cannot make informed consent to activities. This means you are at risk of being involved in risky and unsafe sexual behaviors. You may be unable to say no. This is considered sexual assault. Sexual assault is a broad term that refers to rape, undesired touching, forced acts of sexual nature, and even blackmailed sexual acts. These acts can lead to trauma and injury. You are still a victim of assault, even if you were impaired. Remember that no one should shame you or make you feel like your assault doesn’t matter, just because you were under the influence. It is important to seek help right away and get tested for any possible disease transmission. 

sexual abuse treatments

What treatment options are available for those with substance abuse problems?

There are many treatments available, including inpatient and outpatient programs. In addition, a licensed therapist who specializes in substance abuse can be of immense help. There are physical effects to overcoming a substance abuse issue, even if that substance is alcohol. However, these physical effects are far less damaging than the long-term effects you may experience on your health both physically and mentally from substance abuse. Substance abuse can lead to organ damage such as kidney and liver failure, in addition to transmitted diseases. It is important to focus on mental health, including post-traumatic stress disorder from traumas sustained, anxiety, and weight loss or gain. 

Overcoming substance abuse may seem impossible or daunting, but being able to take this step will lead to improved mental health and physical health. Remember, there are trained professionals available to help you every step of the way.  

 

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