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The “Chemsex” Phenomenon: Best Drugs for Sex and Intimacy 

drugs sex
Written by Alexandra Hicks

What is the real connection between Sex and drugs?

Like peanut butter and jelly, sex and drugs have long gone hand in hand; but the connection between the two is more complex than many realize. According to a survey released by the Journal of Sexual Information, there are a select handful of drugs that people tend to gravitate towards when they’re in the bedroom. This study offers some real-world data into how exactly different popular substances impact both the emotional and performative aspects of sex.  

The study focuses on proper harm reduction messages, but another important facet to all this is how these drugs can be used correctly to improve sexual function. Studies over the years have found that more than a third of Americans are not satisfied with their sex lives – a figure that desperately needs changed. Good sex and regular orgasms can lead to improved mental health, hormone regulation, better sleep, and even a reduced risk of certain cancers.  

So, forget all the stigma associated with sex and drugs, grab your special someone, and make it a goal to focus more on your sexual health in 2023.  

When “chems” and sex combine  

Chemsex, or in other words, the act of using different drugs (chemicals) to enhance the sexual experience, is not actually a new phenomenon. Although it’s recently been getting more attention in a clinical sense, people have been combining drugs with sex for eons, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.  

The study, led by Will Lawn, Ph.D., a research associate at the University of College London’s clinical psychopharmacology unit, explores in intimate detail how people use drugs to improve their sexual relations. Using data from the 2013 Global Drug Survey, Lawn and his team gathered information on 22,289 people in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and Europe. Per the results, the most common substance used during sex was alcohol, followed by cannabis, MDMA, and cocaine.  

The team’s analysis found that 58.5 percent of men and 60.4 percent of women had sex after drinking. Additionally, 37 percent of men and 26.3 percent of women had sex after smoking cannabis, 15.5 percent of both men and women had sex on MDMA, and another 10.2 percent of men and 9.7 percent of women had sex on cocaine.  

Furthermore, the research team also looked at how these drugs impact the sexual experience, in terms of emotional components, quality of orgasms, and performance ability. Respondents rated each drug in the aforementioned categories on a scale of one to ten. Out of the four most popular “aphrodisiac” drugs, MDMA was the only one that produced consistent, intense, and mostly overall positive effects on sex.  

The best drugs to get freaky on 

Below is a short list of some of the most popular drugs to have sex on, based on the both the study mentioned above, and a little bit of personal experience.

Cannabis  

Whilst us stoners have been shouting it from the rooftops for quite some time, we now have a growing body of scientific evidence to back up our claims that pot leads to more and better sex. Not only that, but new research has found that cannabis can also improve the quality of orgasms, an issue that many people, particularly women, struggle with.  


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The most recent study from 2021 states that, “Sexual function is improved in young people who are high-risk cannabis consumers, resulting in increased desire, arousal, and orgasm. This improvement is usually associated with a reduction in anxiety and shame, which facilitates sexual relationships.” 

Aside from the clinical data, a great deal of anecdotal evidence suggests that there is a strong link between frequent cannabis use and improved libido, arousal, orgasm, and just a better sex life in general. All you need to do is ask a few of your pothead friends, or do a quick search through reddit, and you’ll have all the information you need on pot and sex.

MDMA/Ecstasy

Ecstasy, or rather its primary compound in pure form, MDMA, has gained a reputation as the ideal drug to use if you’re getting busy and want to add a bit of extra flair and fervor to the experience. In the study, both men and women rated MDMA very highly in the aspects of “sensuality” and “emotionality and intimacy”.  

These results make sense as MDMA has been proven to improve empathy in humans, as well as octopuses in one study. Although they do form communities and are effective communicators, octopuses can be solitary when it comes to emotional and recreational bonds. However, the ones in the study were more likely to reach out, touch and hug their companions after spending some time in an MDMA-infused water tank.  

It’s also worth noting that there is something to be said in the case of ecstasy (not pure MDMA). Ecstasy is often cut with amphetamines, it’s actually assumed that up to 60% of ecstasy found on the streets is adulterated in some way. Although unsafe, this can certainly add that element of dynamism and energy to a sexual encounter.  

Magic Mushrooms  

Despite mushrooms not being included in the recent study, and even though they seem to be frequently left out of discussions regarding sexual fulfillment, I decided to add them to the list anyway because honestly, sex on shrooms is pretty amazing. When done with the right person, the connection is like no other. And because mushrooms are fierce in both a physical and cerebral aspect, when you get to that place of passion during a trip, it can lead so some of the most intense sexual encounters you may ever experience (iykyk 😉).  

Also, if you believe the Stoned Ape theory coined by ethnobotanist Terence McKenna, then you agree that the aphrodisiac qualities of psilocybin mushrooms were a key factor in the overall survival of the human species. According to McKenna, use of magic mushrooms in primitive humans led to increased male potency, improved communication, and group sex.  

“Everyone would get loaded around the campfire and hump in an enormous writhing heap,” McKenna is quoted as saying. “These magic mushroom–fueled orgies led to genetic diversification, making humans more disease-resistant. And with no way to trace who was whose father, communities formed to raise children—another leap for humankind.” 

Alcohol  

Alcohol is well-known as a substance that lowers inhibitions, which can make people more likely to engage in various behaviors that they normally would not – from being more social and outgoing, to having sex when they otherwise weren’t planning on it.  

This can be a good or bad thing depending on the situation. For example – a couple goes out one night for a few drinks and they come home and have some post-bar fun, that’s good. When someone exploits a drunk, inebriated individual and gets them into a sexual situation they would not participate in while sober, that’s obviously bad. Alcohol and sex can be a wonderful match, but it can be problematic in the wrong context or when too much is used.  

Now, this can be said for most of the substances on this list. Anyone can be taken advantage of if they are not in their right state of mind, but because alcohol is legal and doesn’t carry the stigma that many of these other drugs do, questionable sexual encounters seem more commonplace when booze is involved.  

Cocaine 

“Cocaine is a helluva drug” – the wise words of Rick James. Another drug that was included in the survey and is known to lead to impulsive behavior, cocaine is a stimulant that can produce feelings of euphoria, high energy, and hyperalertness – all qualities that are sought after when getting busy.  

The problem with cocaine, as fun as it may be in certain scenarios, is that it’s extremely addictive and can lead to some serious health problems when used with regularity, such as gastrointestinal ulcers, cardiovascular issues, and neurological disorders. Some people are able to use coke on occasion with no real-world fallout, whereas others become dangerously hooked.  

Final thoughts  

The researchers state that understanding how and why people use drugs is crucial in order to deliver correct “harm reduction messages” that are in line with peoples’ lived experiences. “By engaging with your audience and accepting that drugs provide pleasure as well as harms, you can deliver harm reduction messages in a more trustworthy and nuanced manner,” said Dr Lawn. 

One thing they fail to touch on, is the fact that these drugs can also be used in a positive manner to improve one’s sex life, and that’s also important message worth promoting.  

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About the author

Alexandra Hicks

Managing editor at Cannadelics and U.S based journalist, helping spread the word about the many benefits of using cannabis and psychedelics.