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Written by Nicole Atkins
Does getting high lead to great sex?
People have been combining drugs and sex for generations. As long as it's legal, why not?
As of 2018, recreational marijuana is legal in 10 U.S. states and decriminalized in 13 more. Liquor laws vary by state, but as long as you’re 21, you can buy a 40 ounce Olde English and get smashed in no time.
Due to such easy access, alcohol is the drug of choice for most of us. Even so, feelings about the use of alcohol as part of coming of age - and exploring the entangled labyrinth of sexuality - tend to be ambivalent. It's a useful social lubricant, but can also have negative consequences in excess.
As marijuana become more available, one can’t help but wonder: does it feel the same as drunk sex? Is sex better when you're stoned? Drunk? Or neither?
Drunk or Stoned?
Studying marijuana is no easy feat. Although it’s growing in popularity, it’s still considered a Schedule 1 drug. As a result, getting funding for research can be difficult, and institutions risk serious community and possibly legal backlash.
Despite that, research is happening. A recent study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior (Palamer, 2018) took a progressive stance. It's one of the first to attempt to assess marijuana’s effect on sexuality in a mainstream population. It suffers from a small sample size and missing variables for in-depth factor analysis, but even so, it's a good starting point for understanding how getting high impacts sexual experiences.
The researchers interviewed people who had sex while high on marijuana. They compared people's sexual experiences while high to sexual encounters while drunk. In other words, how does drunk sex compare to sex while high, and is one better than the other?
They looked at the effects of marijuana and alcohol before sex, during sex and after sex.
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Imbibing Before Sex
As it turns out, both marijuana and alcohol make people feel more attractive, but for different reasons. Alcohol makes you feel confident and outgoing. You can walk into a room with fewer inhibitions; when you're drunk, you’re the hottest piece of ass in there. Marijuana, on the other hand, makes you feel attractive because you’re relaxed. It brings you to something closer to a meditative state, allowing you to leave your insecurities at the door (or wherever you keep your bong).
The way the two drugs make you behave differs too. You may do or say things you usually wouldn’t after you’ve had a few martinis, which isn't always such a good thing. Alcohol is notorious for lowering standards. Some of the women in the study claimed they felt more “adventurous.” Most of us recognize this phenomenon as “liquid courage.” People who use marijuana before sex, however, talk about being more selective when it comes to sexual partners.
Imbibing During Sex
The most common physical consequences of drunk sex are dizziness, nausea, vomiting, blackout, erectile dysfunction and vaginal dryness. Alcohol can also numb sensations. That may or may not be a good thing, depending on who you ask, but numbing can affect the quality of sex and your chances of having an orgasm. Sex on marijuana can manifest physically as well. Some people reported feeling sluggish, lazy, or sleepy during sex. Some people felt anxious or distracted after high doses of marijuana as well.
It’s not all bad, though. Due to the numbing effect of alcohol, sex can last longer. So, if you’re into that sort of thing, drink up. Getting high before sex can result in a deluge of favorable features. Your body becomes more sensitive to touch. Some people talk about feeling tingly or warm sensations, or goosebumps. Increased sensitivity opens the door to a whole new level of sexual experiences. People often capitalize on this with more foreplay and exploration.
The pinnacle of sex for many is the orgasm. Some people in the study mentioned not having an orgasm while drunk, or having a quick one. The experience with marijuana can go either way. Some orgasm faster because the sex is so passionate. For others, the sex feels like it lasts longer because time seems to slow down. For may, the orgasm is prolonged, magnified and more intense.
Imbibing After Sex
Many people don’t remember sex the morning after drinking. When they do, the most common feeling they experience is regret. With high doses of alcohol, there were many reports of reckless behavior (Cooper, 2002) - no condom use, missing birth control, or even potential sexual assault. Even when it wasn’t severe, many people described sex using words like “savage,” “sloppy,” “primal,” “aggressive,” “less emotional,” and “loss of control.” Some of these things can be sexy - others can be unpleasant and even unsafe.
But according to the same research, people tend to be more satisfied the morning after sex on marijuana. In contrast to being drunk, they reported feeling in control the whole time. When describing sex, they used more favorable words, like “slow,” “sensual,” “tender,” and “compassionate.” Oh yeah, and no hangover. That's a bonus too.
Does Sex Feel Better?
Alcohol can be a great way to boost your confidence ... and maybe take home a partner you'll wish you hadn't the next morning. When used in excess, it can also be a one-way ticket to awkward texts, projectile vomiting, and uncomfortable sex. If you’re looking for a wild ride (you know, the kind where you might assault someone and forget about it), drinking enough alcohol to cripple a circus might be the way to go.
Marijuana, on the other hand, may be a way to amplify the senses and take your sex life to another level. Getting high before sex can be a gateway to exploring your body (and your partner’s body) in ways you’ve never experienced. Expect intensity; in your orgasms, emotions, and tactile responses. You’re more likely to feel satisfaction into the morning - without the nasty hangover.
If you’re looking for arousing sex that leaves you begging for more, getting high might be the answer ... but only if it's legal in your state, of course (ain't nothing sexy about getting arrested). Of course, this is a small study and it's tough to generalize. Even so, people have been experimenting with sex and drugs for many generations. The only way to find out how it impacts the experience is to try it yourself.
1. Cooper, M. Lynne. "Alcohol use and risky sexual behavior among college students and youth: evaluating the evidence." Journal of Studies on Alcohol, supplement 14 (2002): 101-117.1.
2. Palamar, Joseph J., et al. "A qualitative investigation comparing psychosocial and physical sexual experiences related to alcohol and marijuana use among adults." Archives of sexual behavior 47.3 (2018): 757-770.
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