Drunk sex, high hook-ups and shame-overs: How social lubricants affect our sex lives

A new study looks at how, when and why alcohol and pot factor into sexual encounters and their aftermaths

By Erin Coulehan

Published August 10, 2016 4:08PM (EDT)

 (<a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/g/KIRAYONAK+YULIYA'>KIRAYONAK YULIYA</a> via <a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/'>Shutterstock</a>)
(KIRAYONAK YULIYA via Shutterstock)

In middle school, Sex Ed made doing it seem pretty simple — almost like a mathematical equation: P + V = baby and/or an STD. The curriculum warned against the dangers of unprotected sex with cringe-inducing photos of unpleasant illnesses, while also inducing fear of pregnancy. Like most, I learned sex is much more complex as I grew older. Factors I hadn’t been exposed to, or aware of, affected the way my peers and I experienced intimacy, from first kiss to going all the way. The equation is further complicated when alcohol and drug use become variables, a common trend in college that often extends to sexual practices in early adulthood — the drunken hook-ups that lead to embarrassment and hangovers, with clothes thrown to the floor, sloppy foreplay, a mess in the morning.

In a new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, researchers at NYU investigated the way sex changes when a person is drunk, or high on marijuana. The study found the two substances affect sexual experience in different ways, and found associated levels of shame for each.

The investigation focused on a small group of participants — twelve heterosexual men and twelve heterosexual women — in order to gain as much intimate insight as possible. Researchers found both alcohol and weed increase a person’s perceived level of attraction, which creates an inflated se...

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Erin Coulehan

Erin Coulehan is a freelance journalist with work in Rolling Stone, Elle, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @miss_coulehan

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