From religious books to R&B music, the implication that alcohol works like some sort of love potion has been around for ages. It’s a common belief that alcohol gets you loosened up, turned on, and ready for action.
But does alcohol actually have an aphrodisiac effect? Is there such a thing as beer goggles? Will drinking make your orgasms better, or just leave you too sloshed to orgasm at all?
There’s no question that taking drugs or drinking before you have sex has an effect on the, ahem, activities that follow. Surely this is something you’ve discussed among friends, but to give your next conversation about the nuances of sex under the influence a bit more weight, teams of researchers from New York University and Johns Hopkins University published two separate studies on the topic in the Archives of Sexual Behavior and Psychopharmacology.
The first study in Archives of Sexual Behavior is an in-depth, qualitative study that focuses on the details of how marijuana and alcohol affect sex, and followed the sex lives of 24 participants — 12 men, 12 women, all heterosexual — to glean information. The second from Psychopharmacology focuses on cocaine’s effect on sex based on controlled administration of the drug to 12 participants who didn’t know whether they were taking the drug or a placebo during the study.
Some of the surface findings seem cool and fun — people are more talkative! Sex lasts longer! People want to have sex more! Yay! But among the findings are the negatives you might expect: total memory loss from blacking out, feelings of regret, and people left wondering whether or not they’d used a condom. Some participants also discuss sexual encounters between two people who were clearly very drunk — which, legally, is a criminal act. (You have to be able to give consent, and you can’t give consent if you’re drunk.) So maybe don’t use these studies as an excuse to try sex under the influence of every drug under the sun, especially illegal ones. Definitely don’t. That being said: Here are 23 ways sex changes when you’re high or when you’re drunk.
1. Drinking makes you more outgoing and more likely to connect with potential partners. No surprise here.
2. But drinking led to more people choosing partners they may not normally pick. Palamar’s team found a lot of negatives associated with being drunk or high before sex, but one of the biggest ones is that people who’d been drinking reported being more likely to choose an “atypical partner” or experience “post-sex regret.” People commonly complained of things like seeing a partner “in the daylight” for the first time or feeling like they woke up to a “different person” after hooking up drunk.
3. People report feeling sexier after smoking or drinking. But especially after drinking. From the study: “One female stated she felt so attractive on alcohol that she feels she is the ‘diva of the party,’ yet another states she felt like the ‘sexiest woman on the planet’ while high on marijuana.” Here’s what one participant, a 32-year-old woman, had to say about how the two experiences compare: “When I’m drunk, I’m drunk, so I’m like, ‘I’m hot.’ Then with weed, I usually feel more sexy … and happy. You usually feel a little sexier, a little bit more turned on and ready to have sex, instead of being self-conscious.”
4. Sometimes, smoking makes people feel more insecure. One man from the study said that drinking helps “numb” his insecurities, but, in his experience, smoking can sometimes increase his body image issues.
5. Smoking tends to make people clam up. As in, they are quieter than normal and a bit less social.
6. Cocaine use increases sexual desire. And the more cocaine in a person’s system, the higher their sexual desire seemed to go.
7. But cocaine also makes users more impatient… Which correlates to them being less likely to use a condom if one isn’t readily available. Aside from being illegal, this is obviously also extremely dangerous!
8. Alcohol turns people into social butterflies. A phrase some people used was that they were “down for anything” when they’re drunk. One 18-year-old male participant said, “I don’t feel as outgoing [on marijuana]. I don’t want to hold a conversation and stuff like that. Whereas if I’m drunk, I talk to anybody.” Another participant, a 19-year-old woman, echoed this sentiment, but added that marijuana makes her “laugh more, and I guess when you laugh, it makes people want to socialize with you.”
9. Smoking makes you pickier about who you’ll hang out with. In the cases where marijuana did make people want to talk more, they said they tended to be more selective of who they wanted to be around at the time. “When I’m high, I’m a people person, but I’m selective,” said a 35-year-old male participant. “When I drink, I don’t mind being in a crowd of people. There are times I’ll be high, and I’ll go to a party, and I’ll pick this guy or this girl. But when I’m drunk, I’m just going to mingle with everybody.”
10. Alcohol leads to more “aggressive” behavior than marijuana does. Women, especially, said that men seemed to be more domineering when they’re drunk, and that doesn’t necessarily happen when they’re high. “When there’s drinking involved, guys seem to get more belligerent and crazy, and get this weird aggressive energy,” said one 31-year-old female participant.
11. People are hornier when they’re drunk versus when they’re high. Generally, people said they’re just sort of happy to do whatever when they’re high. But when they’re drunk, sex is the thing they want to do the most. “Maybe I’m looking for [sex] more if I were drunk, whereas when I’m high, I’m happy doing other things,” one 31-year-old woman said. “Sex is great. Watching a movie is great. Resting’s great. But when I’m drunk, fucking would be great.”
12. The feeling of being willing to “do anything” people feel when they’re drunk is different between men and women. This is a crucial difference, and one of only a few gendered differences in the study’s findings. While women tend to discuss this attitude in terms of being more “adventurous,” men compared the feeling alcohol gives them to “boldness” or “confidence.” One man said, “It feels like you get a lot more primal [on alcohol],” and said it’s like a feeling of needing something and doing whatever to get it.
13. Marijuana’s “forbiddenness” facilitates intimacy between two people. Because it’s still illegal in most places, participants in the study said the taboo of smoking weed with someone else in private is an intimate act. “When I go on a date, if it went well, I’d be like, ‘Want to come back to my place and smoke weed?'” said one 31-year-old woman. “That’s a great transition into the intimacy of being at my house. ‘Let’s do something a little bit taboo together.’ And then it’s like you’re sharing a sensation that’s a little bit forbidden.”
14. People don’t lower their standards when they’re high, but they do find people more attractive in general. While alcohol led a lot of people to sleep with people they didn’t necessarily find attractive, some said they found their partners “more attractive” when they were high. “When I’m high … the people I’m attracted to, I’m not at all attracted to sober,” a 22-year-old female participant said. “They should be called ‘weed goggles,’ because it’s much worse on marijuana than on alcohol.”
15. Alcohol makes you forget things you did. Obviously. A lot of participants said they couldn’t remember sexual interactions they had when alcohol was involved. As the study notes, “This often led to reclusiveness, and some participants even reported being ‘cold’ to their partner in the morning.” Clearly, this is dangerous, and one of many reasons to be super careful about having sex when you’ve been drinking.
16. Having sex when you’re high once will make you want to have more sex when you’re high. A man and woman from the study both separately reported a desire “for more sex after the first sexual episode on marijuana.” But people who have had drunken sex don’t necessarily crave more drunken sex.
17. Having sex after you drink leads to a lot of regret. There’s a whole section in the study dedicated to feelings of regret following sex. “The most commonly reported feeling after sex on alcohol was regret,” the study reads. This comes from a combination of the fact that alcohol led participants to sleep with people they didn’t find attractive, concerns about pregnancy, and completely forgetting about people they’d had sex with. “When you’re drunk, it’s more regrets or I-wish-I-didn’t-do-that type of thing,” said one 32-year-old woman. “Definitely had times where I didn’t use a condom. Pulling-out method, one-night stands … Just didn’t feel good about that at all.”
Main Image: Her World