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Cocaine and Erectile Dysfunction

What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction (ED), formerly termed impotence, is a widespread condition in males over 40 years of age all over the world. It has a variety of causes and is often treatable. Left untreated, it can be the source of severe emotional stress to both patient and partner. In the DSM-5, Erectile dysfunction is defined as a partial or complete, reoccurring or persistent failure to obtain or maintain an erection through the end of sexual activity[1].

Years ago ED was considered to be of psychological origin in 75-95% of cases. However, the emergence of new diagnostic methods revealed organic causes in a majority of them. For this reason, ED was etiologically classified as organic (physical), psychogenic (having a psychological origin or cause rather than a physical one), or mixed. In any case, it is necessary to bear in mind that in all cases of ED there is a psychological component, independent of if a possible original organic cause exists [2].

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Can cocaine cause erectile dysfunction? Cocaine interferes with this because it constricts blood vessels, causing blood flow to slow or stop.  

Erectile dysfunction in men may be due to multiple causes, including anxiety and substance abuse. Although, some studies have suggested that substance use may improve sexual functioning in a fleeting way in the short term. It has long-term effects on sexual response. Thus, people who have used addictive substances have on average a higher number of sexual dysfunctions than people who have not.

As for anxiety, men who are substance users have greater anxiety on average than men who are not users. The relationship between substance use and anxiety is known. Men who are substance users scored statistically significantly higher on both state anxiety and trait anxiety than nonusers. Anxiety is an important factor in the development of different sexual dysfunctions, including erectile dysfunction.

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What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a severely addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant. It increases the natural chemical messenger (dopamine) levels in brain circuits related to the control of movement and reward. No matter how much cocaine is taken, it is dangerous. Some of the most common serious problems include heart attack and stroke.

Mixing cocaine and alcohol can lead to dangerous, even life-threatening consequences due to the formation of a toxic chemical called cocaethylene. Thus, it is critical to avoid using cocaine and alcohol together. Some people use cocaine and alcohol simultaneously to increase the effects of both substances. However, this combination can easily lead to life-threatening consequences such as overdose or alcohol poisoning.

Does Cocaine Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), Sexual dysfunction is not uncommon in alcoholics and in cocaine users. Forty to 50% of alcoholic men were suffering from erectile dysfunction and 5-10% had retarded or inhibited ejaculation. Thirty to 36% of cocaine abusers reported erectile dysfunction. Alcohol abuse frequently develops along with cocaine dependence, and the reverse is also common.

Cocaine is a potent dopamine agonist, and chronic cocaine abuse may result in hyperprolactinemia or a dopamine deficiency with sexual dysfunction. Chronic cocaine or alcohol abuse often leads to decreased libido and performance. In addition, acetylcholine turnover usually increases when dopamine is depleted. Therefore, cocaine- and alcohol-induced catecholamine depletion may activate acetylcholine, which further contributes to hyperprolactinemia and sexual dysfunction. In addition, abuse of these substances alters serotonin, acetylcholine, hormones, and other neuroendocrine functions.

Can The Sexual Side Effects Be Reversed?

Damage from cocaine and other substance abuse seems to be permanent. A recent study examined 905 men to observe the long-term effects of drug abuse on sexual functioning. The substance-dependent group included 549 men, and the other 356 were controls. The men in the control group did not use drugs, and the researchers compared their sexual functioning against the men in the substance use group.

Cocaine and Erectile Dysfunction
Can cocaine cause erectile dysfunction? Cocaine locks you in an unbearable state in which you desperately want to have sex, but can’t because you can’t get it up

Men in the substance dependence group showed impaired sexual functioning that lasted even after they stopped using the drug. When the researchers examined the men two weeks after abstinence (stopped using the drug entirely), their sexual functioning stayed decreased. The men were surveyed again after one year, and they still had poorer sexual functioning than the control group. Drug or cocaine use causes permanent sexual side effects if it goes on too long. The best way to prevent permanent sexual damage is to stop using cocaine.

After prolonged use, cocaine can alter the nervous system, leading to permanent erectile dysfunction. Men may even start to see orgasm problems due to the acetylcholine deficiency in the sympathetic ganglions and adrenal medulla. Cocaine contains toxins that harm healthy cells. Exposure to its chemicals can ruin the penile nerves, leading to severe erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction caused by cocaine will require detox and rejuvenation of the nervous system and endocrine system to experience a full recovery.

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Can You Mix Viagra And Cocaine?

Viagra is the brand name for sildenafil, a drug used to treat erectile dysfunction. Viagra increases blood flow to the genitals by affecting a specific phosphodiesterase (PDE5) in the smooth muscle tissue of the penile tissue. A research publication from 2006 reported that six percent of college-age males reported using Viagra recreationally, or abusing Viagra. These same men often mixed Viagra with recreational drugs, like cocaine.

Viagra interacts with a number of health issues and medications. Individuals with heart or cardiovascular issues should not take Viagra. Additionally, people taking heparin, HIV treatment medications, or blood pressure medications should be cautious of taking Viagra. Doctors discourage mixing cocaine and Viagra due to the increased risk of cardiovascular problems. People who mix cocaine and Viagra are at risk for developing serotonin syndrome, seizures, tachycardia, or coma.

Short-Term Effects of Cocaine on Erectile Dysfunction

Cocaine functions by increasing levels of neurotransmitters in different body cells. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that brain cells (neurons) use to send messages to one another.

When cocaine enters the bloodstream, it increases the levels of epinephrine, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter most responsible for pleasure and it plays a role in sexual pleasure as well.

When a person first uses cocaine, they experience positive sexual side effects, at first. Individuals using stimulants like cocaine report the following:

  • Increased duration of sex
  • Feelings of more control during sex
  • Increased quality of sexual pleasure
  • More pleasurable orgasms

Such positive side effects are why some individuals continue to use cocaine to supplement their sexual experiences. The positive side effects happen because of the extra dopamine present when someone uses cocaine. The positive effects of cocaine begin to decrease over time and as tolerance develops.

Cocaine and Erectile Dysfunction
Can cocaine cause erectile dysfunction? The best way to prevent erectile dysfunction and other adverse effects is to stop using cocaine.

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Long-Term Effects of Cocaine on Erectile Dysfunction

Over time, an individual must use more of the drug to achieve the same effects, if they can achieve them at all. Long-term use of this drug can cause the following sexual side effects:

  • Decreased libido, or sex drive
  • Decreased blood flow to the penis
  • Loss of sensation during sex
  • Loss of feelings of control during sex
  • Premature ejaculation

The damage caused by cocaine is slow and hard to notice. Cocaine causes erectile dysfunction over time because of vasoconstriction. The drug causes the blood vessels to tighten and deliver less oxygen and blood to different cells in the body. A healthy erection depends on the ability of the penile blood vessels to relax. During an erection, the soft tissue of the penis fills with blood. Cocaine prevents this relaxation by constricting and tightening the blood vessels.

In addition to decreasing blood flow to the penis, cocaine also blunts the ability of the brain to respond to sexual stimulation. Continous high levels of dopamine will cause neurons to become less sensitive to sexual stimulation. Therefore, sexual stimulation while sober will not cause the same levels of arousal as it used to before cocaine use began.

Cocaine and Erectile Dysfunction
Can cocaine cause erectile dysfunction? Cocaine is a local anesthetic. When applied to the skin, it reduces sensitivity.

Sex & Cocaine

A common belief is that cocaine aids orgasms. Many think it will heighten and prolong them. Initially, this may be somewhat valid, but orgasms on cocaine may be harder to come by for long-time users. Moreover, because cocaine is connected to erectile dysfunction and other sexual dysfunction in men and women, achieving orgasm may be nearly impossible. Overall, there are considerable risk factors linked with sex and cocaine use. Unwanted pregnancies, STIs, sexual assault, and legal problems are just some of the potential negative consequences of sex and cocaine.

In males, heavy cocaine use is linked with motility and lower sperm count. However, co-occurring alcohol abuse also is a risk factor for fertility issues. After long-term use, decreased blood flow results in a loss of oxygen and important nutrients to the cells. Studies on rats have shown this is related to testicular cell apoptosis, also known as programmed cell death.

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Dual Diagnosis Addiction Treatment

First and foremost, if you think that a loved one is abusing cocaine, you should first research the drug and addiction associated with it so that you can better understand what your loved one needs. Next, you must plan an intervention to provide your loved ones with options to battle their addiction in a safe and supportive environment. During this intervention, make sure that you offer compassion and support instead of judgment. Lastly, offer your support throughout the entire treatment process.

In addition, prolonged Cocaine use can have severe physical and psychological effects, so it is essential to seek treatment as soon as possible. Inpatient drug rehab offers intensive care that can help you get through the early stages of withdrawal promptly. Cocaine and erectile dysfunction are closely related and the best way to prevent permanent sexual damage is to stop using cocaine. 

Medically-Assisted Detox

Detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated process of withdrawal, but it doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to drug use. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.

Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of withdrawals.

Psychotherapy 

Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of mental health disorders along with addiction, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves making changes in both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” 
  • Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.
  • Solution Focused Therapy – is an approach interested in solutions that can be quickly implemented with a simple first step leading to further positive consequences.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Drug abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. In this strategy, both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder are treated simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.

Medication-Assisted Treatments

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use disorders and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

Please, do not try to detox on your own. The detox process can be painful and difficult without medical assistance. However, getting through the detox process is crucial for continued treatment. We Level Up provide proper care with round-the-clock medical staff to medically assist your recovery. So, reclaim your life, and call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Cocaine and Erectile Dysfunction
No matter what, when dealing with cocaine addiction problems, the care and supervision of a medical professional are necessary.

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Sources:

[1] [2] NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6224805/

[3] NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK562253/