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Can Addiction Cause Sexual Dysfunction?

Some studies have shown that in general, 31 percent of percent of men experience erectile dysfunction (ED). That number rises to over 50 percent for men over the age of 40, making ED a relatively common problem. Adding addiction into the equation increasing the likelihood of sexual dsyfunction in men.  Sexual dyfunction is especially prevalent in men who abuse alcohol and cocaine.

Sexual problems can begin fairly early in a person’s life or they may develop after an individual has previously had enjoyable and satisfying sex. Sexual dysfunction can develop gradually over time or it can occur suddenly as a total or partial inability to participate in one or more stages of the sexual actions.

What is sexual dysfunction?

Sexual dysfunction or sexual malfunction refers to a difficulty experienced by an individual or a couple during any stage of normal sexual activity, including desire, arousal or orgasm.  Some symptoms of sexual dysfunction include:

  • Decreased sexual desire —persistent or recurrent deficiency or absence of desire for sexual activity giving rise to marked distress and interpersonal difficulty;
  • Sexual aversion disorder —persistent or recurrent aversion and avoidance of all genital sexual contact leading to marked distress and interpersonal difficulty;
  • Difficulty in erection —recurrent or persistent, partial or complete failure to attain or maintain an erection until the completion of the sex act;
  • Difficulty in achieving orgasm —persistent or recurrent delay in or absence of orgasm, following a normal sexual excitement phase;
  • Premature ejaculation —persistent or recurrent ejaculation with minimal sexual stimulation, before, on or shortly after penetration and before the person wishes it, which causes marked distress

Causes of sexual dysfunction

There are many causes of sexual dysfunction. The causes of sexual dysfunction can be physical, psychological or both. Emotions play a factor in sexual dysfunction too. Emotional factors would be interpersonal problems and psychological problems within the individual. Interpersonal problems are such as marital problems or relationship problems, lack of trust and open communication between partners etc. Personal psychological problems include depression, sexual fears or guilt, or even past sexual trauma. Physical factors that can cause sexual dysfunction are:

  • Drugs such as alcohol, nicotine, narcotics, stimulants, blood pressure medications, antihistamines and some psychotherapeutic drugs.
  • Injuries to the back
  • An enlarged prostate gland
  • Problems with blood supply
  • Nerve damage
  • Disease
  • Failure of various organs
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Hormone deficiencies
  • Some birth defects

Sexual dysfunction can be caused by addiction and is common in people who abuse alcohol and drugs. Addiction can cause sexual dysfunction through the substance abuse itself and the emotional and interpersonal problems addicts experience. For instance someone who is in their addiction usually has a lot of guilt, shame, fear and anxiety. This part of addiction can cause sexual dysfunction.

Sexual dysfunction is especially common among people who have anxiety disorders. Ordinary anxiousness can obviously cause sexual dysfunction in men without psychiatric problems, but clinically diagnosable disorders such as panic disorder commonly cause avoidance of intercourse and premature ejaculation. Many people with addictions believe that taking drugs or alcohol will help to relieve some of the anxiety that can cause sexual dysfunction but they are making it worse. Here is a list of drugs that can cause sexual dysfunction. Recreational drugs and drugs of abuse that cause sexual dysfunction include:

  • Alcohol
  • Amphetamines such as Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine)
  • Barbiturates such as Phenobarbital
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Methadone
  • Nicotine from smoking and smokeless tobacco
  • Opiates such as heroin and OxyContin

Addicts with can overcome their sexual dysfunction once they quit abusing drugs and focus on their recovery plan. If they’re having trouble overcoming their sexual dsyfunction then they can see a Sex Therapist who can help them.

If you or your loved one is in need of treatment for alcohol or drug addiction please give us a call at 800-821-9584.


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