Stoned Sex vs. Drunk Sex: Here's the Difference, According to Science
We've all heard of whiskey dick and "weed dick," or when people have trouble staying erect because they're intoxicated. But is one inherently worse than the other?
Both smoking pot and drinking alcohol can release your inhibitions and throw off your physical responses. But it turns out marijuana is way better for your sex life than alcohol, according to science.
A recent study led by New York University medical professor Joseph Palamar used in-depth interviews with 24 heterosexual adults between the ages of 18 and 35 to unravel some of the mysteries of drunk sex and high sex. All things considered, weed came out as the better choice.
1. Stoned people are less likely to engage in risky hookups than drunk people.
"Alcohol was more likely than marijuana to lead to atypical partner choice or post-sex regret," according to the study, which also noted that alcohol use was "often associated with hasty decisions; for example, not using a condom."
Meanwhile, weed's side effects — including paranoia — actually made participants more likely to be cautious and selective about their sexual partners. On the contrary, participants were more likely to have intimate sexual experiences after smoking weed, compared to alcohol-fueled hookups.
In a phone interview, Palamar told Mic that study participants tended to smoke marijuana with people they already knew, which is probably why they reported having stronger, more intimate sexual connections with their partners.
"I feel like weed only enhances the attraction and connection," said one 20-year-old male participant. "But with alcohol, there's lots of regret."
2. Stoned sex often involves a deeper connection with the partner.
"Sex while high on marijuana was commonly described as being more compassionate and tended to include more foreplay," the study reported.
This conclusion is supported by previous studies, which already showed that smoking together can help couples open up emotionally. Past research has also suggested that oxytocin, the hormone responsible for inducing feelings of bonding and intimacy, can trigger the release of the feel-good chemical anandamide, or the "bliss chemical."
Alcohol, however, "is more likely to blunt [emotional awareness]," Palamar said. "In many respects the difference between alcohol [and weed] were the differences between night and day."
3. High sex feels better than drunk sex.
Participants described negative physical side effects for both types of intoxication, including nausea, dizziness, difficulty orgasming and lack of concentration. But marijuana had a positive side effect that alcohol didn't: it made sex feel better and seem to last longer.
"Alcohol tended to numb sensations and marijuana tended to enhance sensations," the study revealed. Several participants of both genders said marijuana made their orgasms feel longer and more intense. "When I'm high, it feels like my orgasms are magnified at least by five times," one 32-year-old female participant said.
Many also said they "felt more emotion" and were more inclined to be creative in the sack after smoking marijuana, while drunk sex was generally more self-focused and goal-oriented.
"With alcohol, it's more like 'Alright, let's do this, let's get my orgasm.' With marijuana it's like 'Okay, let's enjoy this moment. Let's live in the moment," said a 20-year-old male participant.
4. Marijuana makes people feel more creative in the sack.
Both drunk and high people seemed more inclined to experiment in bed than they would have been sober. However, alcohol was sometimes associated with more aggressive sex, while marijuana had more of a cerebral effect that impacted people's mentality between the sheets.
High sex was described as "lazy" and distracted at worst, but different strains of marijuana changed the experience entirely.
"I smoked some Blue Cheese and...I was licking ass, doing all kinds of crazy stuff I had never even thought of," reported one 35-year-old male participant. "...Then I smoke some regular and I just do the regular."
Given the study's small sample size, there's still a great deal of research needed to explore the impact weed has on people's sex lives. Palamar was also clear that the study didn't intend to promote marijuana: Rather, it was intended to help provide more information about how the drug impacts sexual functioning.
"We need more research," Palamar said. "[Students] need harm reduction information...[like] they tell people about alcohol."
However, in the meantime it looks like there are a few good reasons to toke up with a date instead of tossing back shots.