Talking sex: Sex and drugs – dangerous cocktail

The Jamaica Gleaner

Dec. 20, 2008

Dr Alverston Bailey, Contributor

The sexual act releases a plethora of hormones such as phenylethyl amine, dopamine, noradrenaline, endorphin and oxytocin. These hormones induce in you a sense of euphoria. However, many persons yearn to augment the intensity of the experience and try recreational drugs. However, the dangers of these drugs far exceed their benefits and this week we will explore the pros and cons of this practice.

The John Moores University study

Between 1999 and 2002, Professor Mark Bellis of Liverpool John Moores University Centre for Public Health surveyed more than 1,300 people between ages 16 and 35, who regularly socialise in nightclub settings to determine their sexual habits.

The findings are outlined below:

Virtually all of the participants drank alcohol. The majority had their first drink at age 14 or 15. The alcohol drinkers gave the following reasons for using alcohol:


  • To facilitate sexual encounters (28.6 per cent). 
  • To promote unusual or exciting sexual activity (14.6 per cent). 
  • To enhance sensations and arousal (12.7 per cent). 
  • To prolong sex (11.6 per cent).Seventy-five per cent of them had used marijuana and 25.8 per cent of the marijuana users used it to enhance arousal. Thirty per cent had used or tried cocaine and 28.5 per cent of the cocaine users used it to enhance arousal.

    The survey also revealed that those who used alcohol, marijuana, cocaine or ecstasy before age 16 were more likely to have had sex before age 16.

    Survey participants who drank or used drugs in the last four weeks were more likely to:


  • Have had five or more sexual partners. 
  • Have had sex without a condom
  • Regret having sex after drinking or using drugs.Marijuana’s effects on sex

    Marijuana comes from the hemp plant and is called Cannabis sativa: it is smoked, brewed or used in food. At lower doses, marijuana may alter how you sense and perceive sexual stimuli.

    Users often report that their awareness of touch is heightened, and their perception of time changes. Sex therefore feels better and seems to last longer.

    In both men and women, a dose effect is seen, that is, the amount of marijuana taken determines its effect.

    It has been shown that one marijuana cigarette (or joint) can have positive effects, while smoking two will have negative sex effects. In higher doses, marijuana acts as a depressant, causing lethargy, lack of desire and decreased arousal. Long-term use of marijuana causes erectile dysfunction and a reduction in the male hormone testosterone.

    Heavy marijuana use in men is also linked to lower fertility and in women has been associated with impairment of ovulation, and during pregnancy can cause developmental defects of the foetus, including neurobehavioural and physical abnormalities, as well as increasing the risk of a premature birth.

    Effects of alcohol

    Sex and alcohol go hand in hand in our culture since alcohol has a disinhibiting effect, which makes us loosen up and feel more comfortable initiating or engaging in sex. Alcohol makes you feel more confident, and in small quantities may facilitate more socialising and sexual communication and increases sexual desire and arousal.

    But as drinking increases, both men and women will experience a reduction in sexual desire and arousal, and have difficulty experiencing orgasm. Men may also develop erectile dysfunction.

    Effects of ecstasy

    Ecstasy (also called MDMA) is a mind-altering drug with both mild hallucinogenic and amphetamine-like qualities. Users report that Ecstasy decreases inhibitions, enhances their emotions, and boosts self-confidence. These effects can lead to risky sexual behaviour since it impairs your judgement, inhibits fear, undermines your values and suppresses your conscience.

    Some users report heightened feelings of emotional and sensual intensity without a desire for sexual intercourse, while others report an increase in sexual desire, enhanced lubrication and more intense orgasms. But the drug can also causes erectile dysfunction in men, decreased arousal and delayed orgasms. Its use has also been linked to fatalities and memory loss.

    Sex and cocaine

    Cocaine is a white crystalline powder extracted from the leaves of the coca plant. Cocaine users often inhale the powder through the nose (snorting). It is also heated into a liquid and its fumes inhaled through a pipe in a method called free basing or injected intravenously.

    Free basing is also a common method of using a form of cocaine called crack. Users usually feel an initial rush or sense of well-being, but this effect quickly wears off, leaving the user depressed.

    Users of cocaine during sex might notice increased skin sensitivity and enhanced sexual arousal. Since it lowers inhibition, the users feel more energetic and might experience longer and more intense orgasms.

    The application of cocaine to the glans of the penis and the vagina is called popsicle, but this encourages rough sex with bruising of the genitals. Long-term use will lead to irritability, loss of memory, paranoia, low energy levels, anxiety and a loss of interest in sex; these users are also likely to practise unsafe sex or exchange sex for drugs.

    It is patently clear that while performance-enhancing drugs might give you a transient high, the long term effects can impact seriously on your health and well being, so just enjoy the natural high that one can get from drug-free sex.

    Source: Recreational Drugs can lead to impotence”,

    Dr Alverston Bailey is a medical doctor and immediate past president of the Medical Association of Jamaica. Email comments and questions to: or fax 922-6223.

  • PG

    Author: Leslie Carol Botha

    Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.