Experiencing regret after sex is more commonly associated with alcohol than marijuana or ecstasy, according to new research published in the journal Psychology & Sexuality.
“A lot of studies suggest that the use of various drugs increases the chances for sexually risky behavior, but few have examined the actual sexual effects of drugs,” said Joseph J. Palamar of New York University, the corresponding author of the study.
“Whether or not someone uses a condom while high is important. However, limiting research to this behavior really ignores the actual sexual responses associated with drug use that may in fact influence one’s decision to have sex with or without a condom.”
The researchers traveled to nightclubs and dance festivals in New York City to survey 679 attendees about their use of alcohol, marijuana, and ecstasy. The participants were 18-25 years old.
They found that alcohol was more likely than marijuana or ecstasy to make people feel more attractive and more attracted to others. Alcohol was also more commonly associated with regret after sex.
“Each drug is associated with its own level of sexual risk,” Palamar told PsyPost. “Alcohol is likely the riskiest as use is not only so common, but also promoted throughout much of society.”
“Even if sex itself isn’t risky while on alcohol, post-sex regret is extremely common as users may hook up with someone they normally wouldn’t have sex with.”
They researchers also found that ecstasy use was associated with greater sexual pleasure and increased body sensitivity.
Alcohol and ecstasy were more commonly linked to increased sexual desire compared to marijuana.
For men, alcohol and ecstasy were more often associated with sexual dysfunction than marijuana. But for women, marijuana and ecstasy were more often associated with sexual dysfunction than alcohol.
“We relied on self-report, which is limited,” Palamar said. “Use of multiple drugs at the same time is also common in this population so it may have been difficult for some users to distinguish between effects of different drugs. Many drugs can also affect memory so recall of sexual experiences could have been impaired.”
The study, “A comparison of self-reported sexual effects of alcohol, marijuana, and ecstasy in a sample of young adult nightlife attendees“, was co-authored by Marybec Griffin-Tomas, Patricia Acosta, Danielle C. Ompad and Charles M. Cleland.