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Memories of the 28th Century

Replacing Drugs with Sex

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Humans often ask the wrong questions, then are disappointed when the answers do not work, or work as they would have liked. A realm where that is blinding clear is in regard to the drugs that people use for amusement. Many people ask or wonder about the reasons for drug use, but the answers that they see often related to family, upbringing, environment, socialization, etc., but there is little said about neurotransmitters and hormones. Much drug use is an attempt to get the level of something back where it should be.
A simple example of that is nicotine. Nicotine fills the acetylcholine receptor, which involved in the regulation of endorphins, serotonin, and other neurotransmitters When people have deficiencies of those neurotransmitters, they crave anything that will result in them getting a suitable amount, and nicotine does the trick, and that makes nicotine a powerful anti-depressant. There are other ways to get a similar effect. Increasing the body/s production of oxytocin is one avenue, and levels of oxytocin can be raised through sexual stimulation or other stimulation, depending on the individual. Oxytocin is produced by women especially when they are breastfeeding, and there is some in the milk. It is also produced during physical stimulation and after orgasms. But this is only one Method.

And there is heroin and other CNS depressors. Their chemicals mimic endorphins, which are naturally produced during exercise. The so-called runners' high is produced by the higher levels of endorphins, but the same effect can be produced by any kind of exercise.

A short time ago, I was reminded of the best known method for people to get away from drugs, alcohol, tobacco, etc. it is simply to replace those with Oxytocin, the so-called love hormone. Adequate amounts of Oxytocin make people feel good, and it produces pleasant feelings using brain pathways that are very similar to the ones that opiates use (see the NCBI link below). Since oxytocin uses a system that is similar to drugs, stimulating the production of it or ingesting it might replace drugs among addicts. In addition to causing uterine contractions and tension in the lactation glands, oxytocin causes sexual stimulation, and is produced during and after orgasm. Thus, drugs could be replaced with sexual activity.

The body’s reward system was deigned to encourage reproduction, including pair bonding, physical contact and sexual intercourse, so using that system to stop dangerous activity makes good sense. In addition, sexual activity is less expensive than obtaining illegal drugs, and it is safer, since it is almost impossible to overdose on sex; although it might be fun to try. The only possible downside is that sex-workers might try to take advantage, but that is not a major problem, and pair bonding is encouraged by oxytocin, so people would tend to become involved in long term relationships when they get adequate amounts of oxytocin. It is also possible that sex addiction might become a problem for some people, but that is seldom a major problem, and there are ways to treat it.

The biggest problem with using sexual activity to treat drug addiction would be the increase in population. If that story by Arthur C. Clarke was correct, then producing many more people would be a problem, but there are other ways to stimulate the production of oxytocin that would not result in more humans, but that is not a subject that I need to cover here, and it might turn out that encouraging lactation for longr periods would be adequate. Or we might go for running marathons and relaxing with a person of the complementary sex afterwards.

Chart showing which neurotransmitter is associated with which drug and the effect. This is excellent but not complete.