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A clinical guide to the diagnosis and treatment of heroin-related sexual dysfunction

A clinical guide to the diagnosis and treatment of heroin-related sexual dysfunction

  1. Anonymous
    J Psychoactive Drugs. 1982 Jan-Jun;14(1-2):91-9.
    Smith DE, Moser C, Wesson DR, Apter M, Buxton ME, Davison JV, Orgel M, Buffum J.

    Abstract

    It is apparent that a significant degree of sexual concern exists in male and female heroin addicts in the predrug, drug and postdrug periods. The Sexual Concerns and Substance Abuse Project recommends that each opiate abuser entering in to treatment has a brief sex history taken and, if a primary or secondary sexual dysfunction is discovered, then additional evaluation is indicated. Furthermore, the Project stresses the importance of educating the patient to the physiological, as well as psychological, relationship between heroin-related sexual dysfunction and concomitant side effects. For example, in women chronically abusing high doses of heroin, one may not only see a reduction of sexual desire and performance, but also irregular menstrual cycles, and occasionally, amenorrhea, as a result of the depressive effects of the opiate on pituitary hormones. The woman may misinterpret this physiological effect and believe that such changes in her menstrual cycle are irreversible, and that she is sterile. Following the evaluation and patient education phase, the findings obtained from the evaluation of the drug cycle, as it relates to the sociosexual response cycle, should be incorporated into the overall treatment approach for counseling the opiate abuser. When a specific sexual dysfunction exists, particularly if it predates the heroin involvement, referral to a qualified sex therapist is often indicated, to work in co-therapy with the drug counselor and the referring physician. Greater awareness of heroin-related sexual dysfunction may help reduce the relapse rate back to heroin as well as improve the quality of the individual's life during the recovery period.