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Sexual Dysfunction: An Often Overlooked Side Effect of Addiction

sexual dysfunction side effect addiction

Since physical intimacy is a vital part of any relationship, the sexual dysfunction caused by substance abuse can create feelings of shame and embarrassment. Some men also report feeling anxious and depressed by sexual difficulties, which furthers the urge to turn to drugs and alcohol for comfort.

Substance Abuse and Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is the most common form of sexual difficulty relating to substance abuse. All men experience occasional trouble getting or keeping an erection, but ED refers to a persistent inability to get or keep an erection that allows for satisfactory sexual activity.

According to the National Institutes of Health, alcohol is the most common cause of erectile dysfunction due to its depressant effect. However, marijuana, amphetamines, barbiturates, and heroin have all been known to cause erectile dysfunction in men. Even prescription medications can cause impotence when they’re used incorrectly. Opiate painkillers such as OxyContin can be problematic for many men.

Substance Abuse and Your Libido

Substance abuse may also lead to intimacy problems by lowering your libido. For example, heroin and prescription opiate painkillers lower the production of testosterone in a man’s body—leading to a marked decrease in libido. For men who are currently married or in a committed relationship, this can be a source of tension and frustration for both partners.

Treatment Helps Restore Intimacy

AA has long advocated waiting until you have one year of sobriety to pursue sexual relationships. Most rehab facilities also recommend abstaining from sexual relationships while you are receiving treatment. Getting sober requires you to focus on addressing the specific emotional triggers of your addiction—and sexual intimacy can often be an unwelcome distraction during this time.

Remember, though, that the adverse effects of substance abuse are not permanent. After receiving treatment for your drug or alcohol addiction, your sex life should return to normal. Call 877.228.4679 to learn more about how 10 Acre Ranch’s residential addiction treatment center for men can put you on the path to recovering your relationships—and reestablishing healthy intimacy when the time is right.