Have you heard of Viagraholics Anonymous?  Well it seems it exists. Tens of millions of people have used Viagra (a registered trademark of Pfizer) and other ED drugs.  Young men in their 20’s and 30’s are reportedly becoming dependent on Viagra.  Is there a connection to sex addiction?

Age and Viagra use

The data on age and ED drug use/abuse are still somewhat anecdotal, but one sex therapist in the UK said he sees about 15 men a month who feel dependent on Viagra and that the average age is about 32.  The same article quoted a clinical psychologist who reported an increase in the number of male patients dependent on Viagra with the youngest being 22.

According to an article in Webmd.com About 40% of the 40-year-old men in the U.S. have some degree of erectile dysfunction.  And according to Pfizer, most Viagra users are in their early to mid 50s.  And the same article maintains that Pfizer has been targeting younger men in its advertising; the so called “recreational” users of ED drugs (which Pfizer denies.)

A urologist from the “Impotence Institute of America” is quoted in the above article as saying

“These [younger] men are likely to use Viagra because sexual performance is a high priority for them.”  Hmmm.

But a psychologist who treats Viagra dependence is quoted as saying

“These younger men believe they are only satisfying a woman because they are using the drug.  The solution becomes the problem”

Porn and Erectile Dysfunction

“Porn-induced sexual dysfunction” has been talked about for at least a couple of years and a number of studies have documented a connection between heavy internet pornography use and erectile dysfunction in otherwise healthy young men.

A Psychology Today article reported that:

“Recent behavioral addiction research suggests that the loss of libido and performance occur because heavy users [of pornography] are numbing their brain’s normal response to pleasure. Years of overriding the natural limits of libido with intense stimulation desensitize the user’s response to a neurochemical called dopamine.”

So porn addiction may lead to erectile dysfunction and this in turn may lead to a dependence on ED drugs.

But there are other connections drawn between porn addiction and ED besides the neurochemical numbing argument.  Many clinicians believe young men have become so accustomed to the idealized images of women and sex that they are unable to be sexually aroused by real women in a real situation.

Another argument is that given that exposure to porn typically starts in the pre-teen years, young men may have accepted an unrealistic standard of male sexual performance and stamina.  Next to this standard they feel insecure and seek out a prop.

Sex addicts’ use of ED drugs: pros and cons

Whether you are a sex or porn addict or not, “recreational” use of Viagra apparently has the potential to become a drug dependency particularly for younger people.

But if you are sexually addicted then ED drugs feed directly into the addiction in these ways:

  • Addictive sex is about heightened sexual experiences and not about broader relationships so the emphasis is on the peak physical performance and orgasm
  • Addictive sex escalates to more sex and more orgasm, thus requiring sexual arousal beyond the limits normally achieved
  • The desensitization effects of sex and porn addiction mean that in “normal” sex with someone the addict may require ED drugs to “perform” at all.

On the other hand, ED drugs may serve a useful purpose for recovering sex addicts (assuming they are not already using them in their addiction.)  Recovering sex addicts are often insecure about their ability to re-enter the world of intimacy and sexual relating with another person.  ED drugs may help them get over their initial fears, and may only be needed for a brief time.

Additionally, recovering sex addicts often swing from out of control sexual behavior into a period of “sexual anorexia” in which they tend to avoid all sex.  Here again ED drugs may allow them an additional degree of freedom as they take their first tentative steps into sex in recovery.

 


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    Last reviewed: 22 Oct 2012

APA Reference
Hatch, L. (2012). “Viagra Addiction” and Sex Addicts’ Use of ED Drugs. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 23, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex-addiction/2012/10/viagra-addiction-and-sex-addicts-use-of-ed-drugs/

 




Check Out Linda Hatch's books,
Relationships in Recovery & Living with a Sex Addict.


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