Sex and drugs is a hot topic in popular culture, but this combination can pose serious risks to your health. When sex and drug or alcohol abuse are combined, short- and long-term effects on your health can develop.

Here are four ways that addiction can affect sexual health and how you can address these issues in addiction recovery.

1. Lowers Libido

It is a common misconception that substance abuse can enhance sexual desire and function. While this might be true on occasion, the effects wear off quickly and often result in decreased interest in sexual activity.

This occurs for several reasons. First, drugs and alcohol affect you emotionally, which impacts your libido. Also, getting and using substances can be physically and emotionally exhausting, leaving you with little energy or interest in anything else, including sex.

2. Sexual Dysfunction

Substance abuse can also make it physically difficult to have sex. A male might become incapable of sustaining an erection, and males and females may find that they are unable to achieve orgasm.

Sexual health in addiction recovery can also remain an issue. One study found that people with the most sexual dysfunction issues were those who abused alcohol, heroincocaine or speedball, which is a combination of heroin and cocaine.

Those who abused drugs had worse sexual performance after one year of abstinence than the control groups, although many reported some improvements as addiction recovery continued.

3. Sexually Transmitted Disease

Abusing drugs or alcohol can lead to risky sexual behavior. When a person engages in unprotected sex, one of the results could be a sexually transmitted disease. While some of these diseases are highly treatable, there are others that are incurable and that lead to a long list of health complications.

4. Loss of Relationships

Addiction is an emotional battlefield, so it is quite common for people with substance use disorders to lose relationships with those whom they hold most dear. Whether because of promiscuity or emotional distance, the loss of an important relationship might be an important wake-up call to finally get the help you need.

Addressing Sexual Health in Addiction Recovery

The good news is that you can rebuild your life in addiction recovery. Once you are free from active addiction, you can begin addressing other areas of physical and emotional well-being, including sexual health.

When you are working on active recovery, your physical and emotional health comes first. This is a great time to begin building healthy habits as you work with professionals who will give you a guiding hand.

As you develop better coping skills and strong physical and mental health, you will be in a better place to handle relationships with others. If you are in an existing relationship, you and your partner may want to consider getting counseling together.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.