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In continuing with our month of love theme the topic for this week is “substance abuse and its impact on sexual dysfunction.”

Sex is one of the most cited reasons for problems or successes in relationships and we are going to explore some of the ways that the ability to enjoy a fulfilling sexual life can be affected by substance abuse.

How alcohol impacts sexual arousal has long been debated. Alcohol is a substance that affects the way we feel, think and behave.

Research has shown that a small amount of alcohol can lead one to feel more sexual desire and excitement (Ackerman, 2013), however because alcohol falls under a class of substances called “depressants”, the more one drinks, the more his/her nervous system is depressed or ‘slows down’, which negatively impacts sexual performance.

If this is done long term alcohol abuse can lead to impotence and other sexual problems like erectile dysfunction.

Alcohol is not the only substance that can lead to sexual dysfunction.

Cocaine and ecstasy affect the areas of the brain which are responsible for sustaining an erection during sexual intercourse.

On the other hand, people who use heroin and other opiates overtime are likely to find the desire for sexual contact diminishing.

This may largely be due to the fact that heroin causes an increase in a hormone (prolactin) that reduces sexual interest.

Heroin also seems to affect the areas of the brain that control the ability to reach orgasm.

The effects of substance abuse can be lowered sex drive, preventing the body from reaching orgasm and impotence.

With prolonged abuse, even if an erection can be achieved, the user may not be able to ejaculate during sexual intercourse.

In short substance abuse can lead to a decrease in sexual interest and the ability to enjoy sexual intercourse.

These problems can further lead to embarrassment or disappointment which can be frustrating in a relationship.

This frustration can lead to anxiety or depression and eventually relationship breakdown.

If one is experiencing these challenges, all hope is not lost; research suggests that when substance use stops an increase in sexual interest may occur.

If you would like further information about this topic, or want to get support and advice related to substance use for yourself, friend or family member, then contact BOSASNet on 395 9119 or 72659891.

All our services are confidential and we offer counselling and support to those affected by substance use.

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