Humans have known for eons that illicit substances can power up our brains and our bodies. Alcohol and drugs, used sparingly and wisely, can help us perform some tasks in a way that is more fun, more effective, or at least more interesting. Just as some great writers use alcohol, caffeine, or drugs to propel them into better writing, so too do some sexual virtuosos spur better sex with artificial additives.
This is a controversial practice, and for good reason. One of the vital components of consent is for all participants to be clear-headed and in full possession of their faculties. This is really, really important, hence why it’s been the focus of so many news stories and university policy rewrites in recent years.
That said, for some people, it is possible to consent to sex while (mildly) intoxicated. For some folks, intoxicated sex is an absolutely, 100%, never-gonna-happen kind of thing – and that should, of course, be respected – but some people enjoy it from time to time.
It’s probably only a good idea to explore this with a trusted partner who you know well. That way you’ll be better at reading each other’s signals, each asking for what you want without getting self-conscious, and saying “no” or “stop” when you need to. And of course, the better you know someone, the better you know how much of a substance they can handle before they start making decisions that they would not make while sober.
With all of that said, if you and your partner want to sample some new sensations with the help of substances, it’s good to know what you’re getting into. A recent study compared sex while drunk to sex while high on marijuana, and found some interesting differences. For one thing, the study found that both alcohol and marijuana tend to make you feel more attractive – but especially with alcohol, this can lead you to choose sexual partners you wouldn’t ordinarily choose, which might induce feelings of post-sex regret.
While both alcohol and marijuana are known to increase confidence, certain types of marijuana can actually increase anxiety, perhaps including insecurities about your own attractiveness. If you’re prone to anxious feelings, maybe choose a relaxing indica strain, rather than a peppy sativa strain, which can make nervous folks nervous-er.
Physically, alcohol presents a host of problems that may inhibit good sex. It’s a depressant, so it tends to make you feel sleepy and heavy – if not right away, then maybe a while after imbibing. Obviously, it’s not ideal to fall asleep on your date mid-bang! Alcohol can also make it more difficult to get and maintain an erection. This effect is sometimes known as “whiskey dick” but it doesn’t just apply to people with penises: many of the same physiological processes are involved in clitoral erection and arousal as in a penis getting hard. So if erections or arousal are ever an issue for you, it might be best to avoid alcohol before sex.
But while alcohol can seem to numb the genitals, marijuana is often reported to work the opposite way, making everything feel more sensitive and more receptive to touch. This increased sensation is often a good thing, but watch out if you plan on partaking of intense sexual activities like anal sex: the weed may render you capable of feeling every single bump and vein, which could feel overwhelming.
Both alcohol and marijuana can dehydrate the body – hence the headachey hangover you get after drinking, or the dry mouth and dry eyes some people report from smoking weed. For this reason, it’s a good idea to have plenty of lube on hand if you’re having intoxicated sex, even if you don’t normally use lube. And keep a couple big glasses of water by the bed so both of you can stay hydrated!
Finally, the participants in the study reported that drunk sex tended to be less emotional and sensual than sex on marijuana. So if you’re looking for a romantic, sensuous experience, weed may be the better bet.