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November 1974

Sexual Problems of Heroin Addicts

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania (Drs. Mintz and O'Brien); and the Philadelphia Veterans Administration Hospital (Drs. Mintz and O'Brien and Ms. O'Hare and Ms. Goldschmidt). Ms. O'Hare is now with the Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania. †Ms. Goldschmidt died in 1972.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1974;31(5):700-703. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1974.01760170088014

Despite evidence that sexual problems may play a role in the dissatisfaction of heroin addicts with methadone hydrochloride treatment, little is known about their drug-free sexual adjustments or the effects of opiates. We surveyed 136 heroin-addicted veterans for problems of impotence, premature ejaculation, and retarded ejaculation when the subjects were drug free and when they were using heroin. Forty-five were In methadone treatment and also reported on methadone effects.

Premature ejaculation was a surprisingly common complaint when subjects were drug free, but it remains unclear whether this finding represents true base line levels or subtle abstinence reactions. Heroin and methadone both increased the frequency of impotence and retardation, though the effects of heroin were substantially more dramatic.