New Research Shows Which Drugs We Like to Mix With Sex

Around 20 percent of all groups studied used drugs to enhance sexual experience.
Jessica Miley

Sex and drugs have a long history together. New research has shown that people of all genders and sexual orientations are regularly mixing drugs and sex for a variety of reasons. The researchers of the study examined data from the 2013 version of the Global Drug Survey.


The annual poll collates people’s drug habits from a variety of countries including the United Kingdom and the United States. The recent study in particular looked at the question that asked whether they had taken a drug right before sex. Unsurprisingly the most common drug taken by both men and women was alcohol. About 60 percent of respondents said that they drank alcohol before sex.

Cannabis and MDMA rank highly

Cannabis was also a popular choice, about one-third of men and a quarter of women were recorded as having used it before sex. Coming in at third place was MDMA or ecstasy. Approximately 15 percent of both men and women said they had used the popular party drug before sex.

A popular drug in the UK was ketamine while “poppers,” and sildenafil citrate (Viagra) were also recorded but in lower numbers. Because the survey asks its respondents to self-report the researchers admit that the data may not be all that accurate with people likely to both under and over report drug use. “Our results are not representative of the general population, so we don’t know the real prevalence of substance-linked sex,” lead author Will Lawn, a psychologist at the University College London, told Gizmodo.

Health should be a priority

“However, what it does show is that many drugs we like to use in general, are the same drugs that we use with sex—which makes sense. So perhaps we should focus on those drugs with public health messages, rather than just ‘chemsex’ drugs for gay men.” What’s important about the study is that it look inclusively at men and women of all sexual identities. Most research in the past has been more focussed on men who have sex with other men.

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These studies have primarily looked at the ‘chem sex’ culture that exists in some queer scenes around the world. Research has shown that chemsex or sex where using drugs to enhance pleasure is a primary focus can lead to unsafe sex practices like not using condoms.

Choose your drug wisely

This new research shows that women who identify as bisexual reported a higher drug use to enhance sex than heterosexual women. Looking at the data overall, around 20 percent of all groups reported using drugs to improve their sex lives. Different types of drugs were associated with different types of pleasure. For example, MDMA or ecstasy was cited as increasing intimacy while GHB was used to increase sexual appetite.

The survey didn’t ask for respondent locations but the researcher used currency as a proxy to make generalizationss about people's drug use and location. They say that by understanding differences in drug use in different groups and locations targeted health messaging can be made more effective.

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