Sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll are a big part of popular culture, but what happens when you take away the rock n’ roll part? Despite what the Nixon administration, D.A.R.E., and every after-school special ever made would have us believe, human beings have used drugs in some form or another to enhance some part of their lives. Naturally, one of biggest parts we use it for is sex.
I’m not just talking about the drugs rock stars do with groupies. In 2015 alone, the drug company, Pfizer, made $1.708 billion in revenue from Viagra alone. So yes, sex sells and it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. So rock n’ roll really isn’t necessary for this potent combination to fly and no matter what drug warriors do, economics will keep this potent combination in business.
As we speak, these same billion-dollar companies are trying to make a Viagra for women as well. Like the female orgasm, however, it’s not quite as simple as getting blood to flow to the genitals. The greater difficulty women have in achieving orgasm, not to mention differences in evolutionary function that I’ve touched on before, make crafting such a drug a challenge. That hasn’t kept people from trying though.
Again, there are billions of dollars at stake. There’s too much incentive to give people drugs that enhance their sex life. At the moment, the only “female Viagra” that has this potential is called Flibanserin. It’s not quite an orgasm in a pill just yet, but it’s a vital first step and we can expect more like it in the coming years.
So why bring up sex and drugs? Well, it plays into some of the other issues I’ve talked about regarding ways that technology is changing sex. History shows that any advance, be it the advent of the latex condom or the birth control pill, is going to change attitudes about sex and the ways in which humans relate to one another. With the pace of technological change advancing at a rate that’s hard to keep up with, it’s difficult to imagine what kind of changes we’ll see.
These changes aren’t like trends in computers and smartphones either. Advances in drugs don’t always follow a simple pattern in terms of how they effect sex. There are drugs that negatively affect our sex drive, many of which are available at any drug store or with a prescription. The same goes for illicit drugs. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol isn’t an aphrodisiac. It can actually hinder sexual function. It’s only associated with sex because it removes inhibitions, thereby making people more open to sexual encounters.
The interplay between sex and other drugs, illicit and otherwise, is extremely complex and too much for a single blog post. It’s also unresolved because, despite mixing sex and drugs for years, we still don’t know everything about the way the two interact. Last year, Vice did a thorough report on how different drugs effect sex during their investigation into “Chemsex,” a topic I’ll cover in another blog post. You can read the article here:
There’s a lot in this article to examine. Drugs and their effects on the human body are complex and varied. At the moment, there’s no single drug that enhances sex for everybody in every instance. This quote from the article sums it up nicely:
Given how long—and often—humans have mixed drugs and sex, you’d think we’d understand the two pretty well by now. But as Johnson—who runs clinical trials testing narcotics’ effects on human behavior—can attest, drugs affect us all a little differently. Some have a direct pharmacological impact on the way we experience the world, while others affect our brains so dramatically that their impact on sex is a total crapshoot.
So as it stands, the interplay between sex and drugs is extremely varied and unpredictable. That unpredictability can make for interesting stories. At the moment, I’m throwing around a few ideas that explore this unpredictability. However, it’s the future of sex and drugs that I’m most interested in.
Every year, more and more drugs are emerging, legal and illegal alike. If there’s a way to mix these drugs with sex, people will find it and they will exploit it to the utmost. It may improve our sexual experiences. It may hinder them. One day, we may be able to control that. What kind of society will that create? How will that affect the way we relate to one another? Those are all important questions, but they’re best addressed in future blog posts.