Generally speaking, there are smokers and drinkers. Potheads and lushes, weed-lovers and boozehounds, cannabis connoisseurs and alcohol enthusiasts: Whichever the chosen terms, while there’s naturally plenty of crossover (a burgeoning few have made careers out of blending cannabis and cocktails), people tend to lean towards a preference of one substance over another. Moreover, there’s a time, place, and perhaps most importantly, a circumstance for each.
Kicking back at home with a Netflix marathon and takeout? Puffing away on an oil pen is an optimal accoutrement. Out for the night, ready to get a little amped up and toying with the notion of making bad decisions? There’s a reason liquor has long been lovingly called social lubricant. Some activities are no-brainers, but on the subject of sex, much has been opined and little has been agreed upon. To pose it simply, is sex better when you're drunk or high? It’s probably ultimately best sober, but that’s beside the point. With the assistance of some science and facts and stuff from a study conducted by Joseph Palamar and his colleagues at New York University (they brought in 24 straight adults for a series of hard-hitting interviews on the topic), let’s break down the pros, cons and in-betweens to see which one comes out on top:
1. Spontaneity Levels
Drunk sex is notoriously and deliciously messy, unfettered, frenzied, stupid, and yes, sloppy. It’s arguably liberated even. High sex, on the other hand, tends to be slower, quieter, softer. It’s more sensual and relaxed. Some people like that, while others might say “snooze.” Drunk sex wins, particularly because you’re more likely to be spontaneous when you’re under the influence and therefore regret your actions once you’re stone-cold sober. Doing things that possibly result in regret are more exciting. Enter the slovenly one-night stand. Enter the cursed term “beer goggles.” Enter the unfortunate phrase “coyote ugly.” In case you’re somehow unfamiliar, that’s when you wake up after a night of heavy drinking in bed with someone so hideous in appearance you’d rather gnaw your own arm off than risk waking your slumbering human mistake and having to face them.
According to Palamar’s research project, indeed, the “most commonly reported feeling after sex on alcohol was regret. Both males and females commonly reported that regret, shame, and embarrassment were associated with alcohol use, but this was rarely reported for marijuana.” Duh. Then again, if you drank so much you blacked out, you might have the good luck of not remembering it at all.
2. Distraction Levels
When you’re high, you’re more likely to get all up in your own head, displaced from the moment. When you’re drunk, you’re more susceptible to being overly sensitive, yelling, crying, injuring yourself (nothing like a misplaced thrust to kill the moment) or throwing a temper tantrum, which all, needless to say, detract from the moment. But at least when you’re drunk you think you’re focused and with it. When you’re high and your mind wanders, you’re hyper-aware of it and in my opinion, more distracted. For example, one female in the study noted, “You’re so high… you start thinking sex is weird. ‘What is sex?’” Good question.
3. Pleasure and Passion Levels
“Alcohol tended to numb sensations and marijuana tended to enhance sensations.” Anyone who’s ever smoked will argue certain feelings, like those associated with touch, are more intensified when you’re stoned. Alcohol tends to have a numbing effect—which is why so many geniuses have drinking problems. Thinking too much is painful! “The study found that both men and women reported longer and more intimate orgasms on marijuana, with one woman reported hers were more magnified, at least by five times.” Who’s this woman doing math equations while getting off? I don’t know if I trust her.
Again, personality types come into play, and it’s more about choosing the right substances for yours. If you’re an introspective person who tends to analyze and overthink things to begin with, you might want to opt for a glass (or bottle. Don’t judge me!) of red wine, as opposed to a big puff on the old joint. Then again, a mélange might be the way to go. Cannabis wins.
4. Tenderness and Compassion Levels
In the context of sex, these are two words that kind of make me want to barf, much like the phrase “making love.” But I get it. Sex can, and should, be nice. Good feelings and all that. Apparently, cannabis makes sex a lot nicer. The study said it resulted in “more tender, slow, and compassionate sex acts and to involve more sensation and sensuality than alcohol.” Touchy-feely type? High sex is so you!
5. Risk Levels
Prefer to live on the edge? Walk on the wild side? Getting sloshed before boning is the way to go. Into STDs? Even better. You’re way less likely to peel on a condom once you’ve had a few too many. This is nothing you don’t already know. Since drinking lowers your inhibitions, you’ve got more of a chance of getting crazier in the sack, too. Always fantasized about choking a girl right before you’re both about to come? Those whiskey shots you knocked back an hour prior might just make it happen, for better or worse. To go back to the study: “One participant interestingly pointed out that marijuana use decreased his likelihood of engaging in risk behavior because while high he was too paranoid to give in.”
Research has also unsurprisingly found that couples who just smoke cannabis together have significantly lower incidences of domestic violence. Some may insist high sex is more passionate sex, but when it comes to couples, the passionate pair is quite often the inebriated pair. Certainly not mutually exclusive, passion is just a few steps shy of violence. Hello, rough sex. So do you want to play it safe or is aggressive mania more your speed? Depending how demented you are, both have their own distinct brand of appeal.
6. Criminal Levels
Did you know both partners have to give consent to have sex, or else it’s, you know, rape, and you can’t technically give consent when you’re drunk? So by that logic, it stands to reason if two drunk people partake in intercourse, they are illegally sexually violating each other. Then again, cannabis is still illegal in most states, so it depends where you live. This one’s a tie.
7. Feeling Sexy Levels
Both substances make people, particularly women since we’re apparently more susceptible to everything (except for making crow’s feet and smile lines read as physically alluring), feel sexier than normal. Booze wins. But not by much. That’s because feeling sexy should be a state of mind, and not the result of an altered state of mind.