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Psychedelics and Sex

psychedelics sex
in this article
  • Introduction
  • Modern Historical Context
  • Contemporary Context
  • MDMA and Couples Therapy
  • Modern Therapeutic Landscape
  • Synergy of Psychedelics and Sex
  • Psychedelics and Sex - Let’s do it!
  • Partner Selection is Vital
  • Preparation
  • The Day Of
  • Post-Experience
  • Conclusion

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Chemical Collective or any associated parties.

Introduction

Sex and drugs are intrinsically linked throughout cultures all across the world, with prevailing opinions on the subject ranging from disgusting, deviant behaviour, to perfect, transcendent means of connection. Of course, as with everything, there are inherent pros and cons when engaging in intimacy in an altered state. The pivotal factor distinguishing ‘good’ from ‘bad’ experiences lies in the type of substance consumed, the amount of said substance consumed, and the choice of intimate partner. Various drugs carry different risks, impacting both the body and mind, and some may even blur the lines of consent. Safety and intentionality are paramount when combining any psychoative substances with sexual encounters. This article delves into a class of drugs with particularly powerful historical, and current, links to sexual liberation: Psychedelics.

Modern Historical Context

psychedelics sex

The modern historical roots of sex and psychedelics emerged in the expansive waves of the sexual liberation movement that characterized the 1960s and 70s. During this era, psychedelics, notably LSD, became associated with the liberation of sexual inhibitions and the therapeutic resolution of past sexual traumas. Inspired by Timothy Leary’s provocative calls to: 

Turn on, tune in, drop out

psychedelics emerged as instruments for pleasure, love, and uninhibited self-expression.

An advocate of this synergistic relationship, Annie Sprinkle, a certified sexologist and trailblazer in the sex-positive movement, immersed herself in the world of psychedelics throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Sprinkle offers firsthand testimony to the transformative power of sex on psychedelics. Sprinkle attests to the profound positive impacts of psychedelics on her sexual journey. Beyond merely enhancing arousal, she credits psychedelics, especially LSD, as her:

Greatest sexual educators.

Opening doors to alternative realities and fostering heightened connectedness and satisfaction between partners, these substances, in Sprinkle’s view, transcend the conventional boundaries of pleasure. She says she: 

Realized what a profound and positive impact my psychedelic experiences had had on my life, and in particular, on my sex life. In an aha! moment, it became clear that psychedelics had been perhaps my greatest sex educator.

Sprinkle emphasized that the link between sex and psychedelics extends far beyond immediate arousal. Each encounter with psychedelics serves as a catalyst for self-discovery, offering users novel perspectives on their own identities. This newfound self-awareness, in turn, becomes an invaluable informant for an individual’s sexual life, shaping and enriching their intimate connections.

Contemporary Context

In contemporary times, research has once again begun to explore the powerful relationship between psychedelics and intimacy. Serotonergic hallucinogens, a class of psychedelics strongly tied to the neurotransmitter serotonin (commonly known as 5-HT), have been associated with an increase in sexual desire. LSD, magic mushrooms, MDMA, DMT, 5-MeO-DMT and mescaline all fall within this category, with Ketamine and Cannabis often included as well. For those seeking to explore altered states during intimacy, meticulous planning becomes crucial.

Regardless of the specific psychedelic substance, all carry a risk of heightened sexuality or increased vulnerability to sexual advances.

These drugs are renowned for expanding consciousness and diminishing inhibitions, underscoring the importance of engaging in intimacy, only with trusted individuals while under their influence.

Despite the continued illegal status of psychedelics in many parts of the world, anecdotal evidence suggests that the use of these substances to augment sexual encounters remains as prevalent as it was during the peak of the sexual liberation movement. However, the categorization of sex on drugs as a high-risk activity has led to a notable absence of concrete statistical data to substantiate such claims.

In light of the burgeoning ‘psychedelic renaissance,’  the therapeutic potential of these substances is beginning to be understood. In domains such as couples therapy, for example, their effects are nothing short of profound. This signals the potential dawn of a new era for the intersection of sex and psychedelics, leveraging insights gleaned from their recreational use and channeling them into the domain of health and wellness as a whole.

MDMA and Couples Therapy

The origins of psychedelic-assisted couples therapy trace back to the 1970s, with a focus on the utilization of MDMA and the groundbreaking efforts of Anne and Sasha Shulgin. During this period, research highlighted MDMA’s efficacy as a communication tool, facilitating the negotiation of relational issues. It proved instrumental in enabling couples to confront the fear of emotional vulnerability and fostering candid introspection.

The legal restrictions imposed on MDMA, declared illegal in the UK in 1977 and in the US in 1985, abruptly halted research endeavors, compelling practitioners to continue to operate, but in clandestine fashion. Being stuck solely in recreational, underground usage makes research somewhat of a slave to the prevailing opinion of wider drug culture, with researchers either not taken seriously, or unable to share their findings with wider society for fear of legal reprisals.

However, with the growing recognition of psychedelics as legitimate therapeutic agents, there has been a palpable surge of interest in psychedelic-assisted therapy. A notable 2020 trial explored the application of MDMA-assisted couples therapy, particularly in cases where one partner grappled with PTSD. The results were promising, revealing improvements in PTSD symptoms, heightened support and intimacy, and reduced conflict within the couple. Unfortunately, we can only begin to imagine the potential relationships which would have been improved, even saved, had wider society chosen to accept these substances rather than demonizing them.

Beyond MDMA, there is a growing curiosity about the therapeutic potential of many other psychedelics, each offering unique applications within the therapy setting. Tara Cornelius, a social psychologist at Columbia University, finds the application of LSD and psilocybin in couples therapy particularly intriguing. Unlike MDMA, these substances may not evoke the same affectionate moods but can still open the mind to novel possibilities. In such therapeutic contexts, couples may undergo individual psychedelic trips, later convening under the guidance of a therapist to discuss their insights and learnings.

Modern Therapeutic Landscape

Sarah Tilley, CEO of Beautiful Space, sheds light on the predominant issues compelling couples to seek psychedelic-assisted couples therapy, with a focal point on matters related to sex and intimacy. Throughout the course of a relationship, challenges may surface, leading to a diminished desire or arousal.

Many of these issues find their roots in generational trauma.

While couples often approach Beautiful Space without explicitly addressing generational trauma, Sarah notes that it frequently becomes the focal point of therapy sessions.

Speaking at the recent Psych Symposium in London, Sarah candidly acknowledged the limitations of conventional couples therapy, highlighting a stark statistic:

Fifty percent of first marriages end in divorce, and most of those couples have been in couples therapy before that.

In response to this, Beautiful Space adopts psilocybin-assisted couples therapy to augment and enrich the conventional therapeutic experience. The process initiates with a preparatory session conducted in sobriety, to develop an understanding of each individual’s trauma and family background. On the designated “medicine day,” the couple undergoes a guided solo-journey individually but within a shared space, employing rituals such as music, meditation, and blindfolding to navigate the journey. Post-trip, Sarah orchestrates a reunion for the couple to share and integrate their discoveries and emotions, fostering a collective understanding of how they can fortify their relationship.

This is merely one illustration of a growing number of therapeutic retreats specializing in psychedelic-assisted couples therapy. With the increasing acceptance of psychedelics and their integration into the landscape of health and wellness, there is compelling evidence to suggest the continued expansion of this practice in the coming years, which can only be a positive step for the future.

Synergy of Psychedelics and Sex

So, now let’s break down the relationship between sex, intimacy and psychedelics in simple terms, to explain their effects, similarities, and why they synergise so strongly.

Love’s Natural High

Remember those soaring feelings of euphoria and bliss during the early stages of falling in love? Remarkably, both love and certain psychedelic experiences can elevate similar neurotransmitters in our brains. Oxytocin, often dubbed the ‘cuddle hormone’ is notorious for its role in promoting feelings of love and connection. Perhaps unsurprisingly, for those who have previously consumed them, some psychedelic substances have been linked to an increased release of oxytocin. Whether you’re sharing an embrace with your partner or embarking on a magic mushroom journey, anticipate a heartwarming connection.

The Strength of Connection

It is well documented that one of the most intense elements of a psychedelic trip, whether alone or with others, is the potential to foster a profound sense of connectedness. Research suggests that psychedelics may promote empathy, openness, and vulnerability – qualities foundational to healthy relationships. If distance creeps into your relationship, perhaps consider a heartfelt conversation over chamomile tea before diving into the psychedelic rabbit hole.

Journeying the Inner Universe

Psychedelics serve as gateways to self-exploration and introspection – a wild voyage through the unknown landscapes of the subconscious mind.

Thriving intimate relationships often involve a willingness to explore each other’s emotional worlds.

Embrace vulnerability, and you may uncover newfound depths in your connection with your partner. A quote from a Vice article ‘Love & Other Drugs’ interviewed couples who had undergone psychedelic couples therapy.

We’ve had some very bad fights in our relationship but facing these issues and talking about them after tripping together made us realise how grateful we are for each other.

Laughter and Elevation

They say laughter is the best medicine, and in some cases, psychedelics might share that title. Studies indicate that psychedelics could help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression, leading to increased feelings of joy and wonder.

Why not amplify the fun?

I think it is valuable for us individually, and as a society to acknowledge the fact that recreational drug use can simply be fun. Fun, bonding experiences are incredibly valuable for binding us together, and I want to stress that, that is OK. Sharing laughter with your partner can cultivate playfulness and camaraderie. Whether through a spontaneous play fight or a silly, stoned exchange, laughing together can elevate your relationship to new heights.

Communication, the Unconventional Way

Healthy relationships thrive on open and honest communication, yet it’s often easier said than done. Psychedelics are catalysts for intense conversations, capable of stimulating profound, honest expression of our inner worlds without judgment, and perhaps with more personal insight than may be available during sobriety. Couples who have explored psychedelics together often report deeper emotional connections and insights into each other’s minds.

OK, so we have explored the surface of psychedelics’ effects on intimate relationships as a whole. Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty, let’s face it, it’s why you opened this article in the first place.

Psychedelics and Sex - Let’s do it!

Renowned pleasure and intimacy coach, self-professed ‘Cannasexual’, and educator Ashley Manta has detailed what I believe to be a particularly well thought out and comprehensive method for using psychedelic substances safely, and beneficially in your sex life.

Ashley offers Concierge Coaching and Therapy with Dr. Shannon Chavez as part of her ‘Shape Center’ practice in Beverly Hills. She regularly holds presentations for resorts, colleges, bachelorette parties, sex shops, or events. She describes her mission as:

To help people have joyful, empowered sex lives!

Guidelines For Responsible Sex in Altered States

Embarking on sexual intimacy under the influence of any substance demands meticulous preparation. Here we will apply Ashley Manta’s insights as a base for our exploration of how to experiment safely. Establishing a safe and comfortable environment is crucial for the overall experience. This extends to physical safety as well as emotional well-being.

Mind and Body Wellness 

Evaluate your overall mental and physical well-being, considering factors such as a history of psychosis, panic attacks, current medication, recent trauma, and relationship dynamics. If you are on psych meds or have a history of mania/psychosis, certain substances may not be suitable.

Choose Compatible Medicines

Selecting substances that align with your body and mind is paramount. Prioritize those that resonate positively with your overall well-being.

Establish a Safe Environment

Ensure you are in a secure space with trustworthy individuals. The setting plays a crucial role in creating a conducive atmosphere for a positive outcome.

Communicate Boundaries and Consent

Explicitly discuss boundaries and consent both before and during intimacy. Partner selection is crucial; engage only with individuals who prioritize and respect your physical and mental well-being.

The use of psychedelics in the context of sexual relationships should always be consensual.

Both partners must openly discuss their desires, boundaries, and intentions before embarking on a psychedelic journey and engaging in sexual activity.

Consent is an ongoing process that doesn’t conclude when the psychedelic trip begins.

The altered state of consciousness induced by psychedelics heightens sensitivity and vulnerability, emphasizing the continued importance of clear communication.

Seek Growth and Connection

Approach the experience as an opportunity for connection with your sensual self on a profound level.

The goal is not merely the intoxicating high but rather a deeper, inhibited exploration that fosters both sexual and emotional growth.

In essence, engaging in sex on drugs should be a thoughtful and intentional act, prioritizing safety, consent, and personal growth.

Partner Selection is Vital

Who are you planning to undertake this experience with? Why?

Green Flags for Partner Selection

Trusted long-term partner.

Skillful communicator.

Strong track record of respecting boundaries.

Demonstrably invested in mutual enjoyment.

Prior knowledge of the substance.

Advocate for planned aftercare.

Red Flags for Partner Selection

New partner (<6 months).

First time with the substance.

Not safer sex-savvy (lacks regular STI testing, doesn’t use barriers).

Spontaneous suggestion of new sexual activities without proper discussion of consent and boundaries.

Inconsistent with aftercare or follow-ups.

Meeting any of the red flag criteria indicates that the partner may not be the safest option for engaging in sex in an altered state. Familiarity with both the substance and consensual, safe sex is paramount.

Additional Considerations

History of psychosis/suicidal ideation/violence toward self or others

History of panic attacks

Currently taking an SSRI or other psych meds

History of recent sexual trauma

Recent or ongoing tumult in the relationship affecting trust

History of coercion/manipulation in the relationship

These considerations, while not definitive deal-breakers, warrant careful reflection before proceeding.

Preparation

When venturing into the realm of altered-state sex, Ashley Manta provides a comprehensive guide on beginning initial discussions with your partner. Ensuring a safe substance and a secure partner is just the beginning; effective communication is paramount.

The Pre-Talk

Manta emphasizes the necessity for a pre-talk, ongoing communication during the trip, and discussions once it has concluded. The pre-talk, ideally occurring one to two weeks beforehand, allows ample time for reflection, questions, and the option to opt-out if necessary. Things to consider include:

Consumption and Intimacy Setting

Where will the drug be consumed, and intimacy take place?

Drug Choice and Dosage

What is the drug of choice?

What will the dosage be, and is there a plan for redosing throughout?

Source and Contamination Check

Has the drug been tested for contaminants?

Is it obtained from a trusted source?

Support System

Is there an alternate source of physical and emotional support nearby?

Time Allocation

How much time will be set aside for the experience? (Manta recommends 24-48 hours). Manta underscores the significance of individual self-reflection prior to undertaking any activity.

Partners should consider and share their expectations, negotiating terms to ensure mutual consent, comfort, and alignment.

The Day Of

On the day of, another check-in with your partner is crucial. Discuss any adjustments to the plan, re-dosing intentions, and employ Manta’s pro tip:

Pre-measure doses and setting timers to avoid dosage mishaps.

Setting intentions, discussing fears and boundaries, and co-creating the event become vital steps. Non-verbal communication signals should be established, considering that verbal communication might be challenging during an altered state.

Post-Experience

Discuss aftercare agreements

Establish signals for help if someone feels uncomfortable or sick.

Landing Gear and Supplies

Consider the use of ‘downers’ like Xanax or Benadryl for a calm descent. Be exceedingly careful with these substances however, if you are likely to be using them please bear in mind the previously mentioned pre-measuring of doses while totally sober.

Have natural supplies on-hand too, peppermint oil, Vitamin C, 5-HTP, and CBD products can be useful. Be aware though, Manta emphasizes that while cannabis products can assist, they may intensify the effects of a variety of substances, and CBD can counteract the ‘high’.

Conclusion

psychedelics sex

I hope this guide has opened your eyes and potentially piqued your curiosity. This is a simple starting point, and a reminder for you to approach sex during altered states with thorough preparation, respect for boundaries and a commitment to safety and communication.

The foundation of a positive and enriching experience for both parties hinges on open dialogue and mutual understanding.

Only then does the journey become an opportunity for profound connection and exploration, grounded in mutual understanding and shared intentions.

David Blackbourn | Community Blogger at Chemical Collective

David is one of our community bloggers here at Chemical Collective. If you’re interested in joining our blogging team and getting paid to write about subjects you’re passionate about, please reach out to David via email at blog@chemical-collective.com

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PQE_RoKeR
4 days ago

Buen articulo y bajo experiencia es algo interesante vivirlo

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