Women in the study reported using drugs like cocaine to heighten their sex lives in ways like boosting their confidence and self-esteem, but subsequently found they struggled to have sex without drugs.
“For the women in our study,” researchers wrote, “the transition from the subcultural drug context into a life without drugs presents a real challenge, especially in managing to decipher the rules and expectations in sexual matters. Basically, this includes everything from flirting to post-coital behavior. Being unaccustomed to managing the different codes in sexually charged situations can create confusion and insecurity and ultimately threaten the individual’s sexual confidence and self-esteem.”
Many felt ashamed of their sexual behavior on drugs and consequently were fearful of sex and the expectations of their partners. One woman in the study even said she felt both “terrified” and “damaged” when it came to sex.
Although the research featured women who had a history of abusing heroin or amphetamines (such as cocaine or speed) between ages three and 35 years, it has worrying implications of the effects drugs have on sex in general.
Broadly spoke to Anette Skårner, study author and professor at University of Gothenburg, Sweden, about the findings: “Our results point to the fact that there is a need among the women to gain perspective on and to process the sexual experiences from their previous lives as drug users,” she says. “Despite the strong connection between drugs and sexuality, there is a gap of knowledge when it comes to the role and meaning of sexuality during this process.”