Addicted to Viagra: Why Some Men Are at the Point of no Return

viagra addiction

The very phrase ‘erectile dysfunction’ is enough to set one’s teeth on edge. But is Viagra the magic bullet it’s purported to be?

Our perceptions of masculinity are rooted in phallic ideals: a voracious sexual appetite, and unfaltering, vigorous sexual mastery. These are the thoughts running through the heads of young men looking to live up to unrealistic expectations, who for years now have been fed a diet of acrobatic porn.
Who could blame a man for looking for a little help, dysfunctional or not?
A cursory search on the internet, a private transaction, and suddenly access is provided to a world of confidence and assurance. If you’ve done Viagra, Cialis or Levitra once, why not try again? And again. And again. Why ever stop using?

But what if you couldn’t stop, no matter the consequences?

This was the case for Jack, and his fellow members of Viagraholics Anonymous (yes, this is for real). In a moment of wanting to insure his libido for an all-night session with a new girlfriend, he was offered a “magic pill” by a co-worker who promised it would help him perform like a porn star.

After his first use, having satisfied his girlfriend multiple times in a night, he was convinced of its Superman properties. He began ordering online, obsessing over the cheapest supply, various brands, quickly getting to the point where popping a pill before sex became the norm.

Viagra Dependency

While Viagra is not chemically addictive, it is nevertheless possible to develop a psychological dependency on the drug. According to Jack, “I got to a point where I felt I couldn’t perform sexually without it.” Complicating matters further, the continued use of Viagra may cause users to build up a tolerance, requiring ever more of the drug to achieve any benefits.

Over time it can become impossible to achieve an erection without chemical aid. Perhaps worst of all for Jack was the cruel irony that his extended use of the erectile enhancer had left him flaccid and unable to perform at all.
The first reports of recreational Viagra use in the UK appeared shortly after its release in 1998. A study in the British Medical Journal revealed that club-goers in the UK were popping Viagra, often in combination with other drugs such as amyl nitrate (“poppers”), marijuana and ecstasy.

Despite its current reputation as a “marital aid”, Viagra’s humble beginnings were actually as a proposed treatment for high blood pressure and ischaemic heart disease. Initial trials using Viagra, developed by pharmaceutical company Pfizer, found that the drug had little success in treating such conditions but produced some pretty remarkable side effects. In healthy males and, crucially, males with erectile dysfunction (ED), Viagra was found to induce, and increase, the duration of erections. Pfizer, seeing a golden, penis-shaped opportunity, took the pill to market immediately, repurposed as
a treatment for ED.

In the weeks following Viagra’s FDA approval more than 40,000 prescriptions were dispensed in the United States.

In porn, greased-up blokes hung like horses jack-hammer away with seemingly
endless stamina

In the UK, Viagra was added to the NHS in 2000 for men who were suffering ED as a consequence of other health problems such as diabetes.

Viagra and the Black Market

But for those who were unable to obtain a prescription – the millions who were perfectly healthy and not technically suffering from ED – a budding black market industry was emerging to exploit paying customers, both in back alleys and online.

According to a survey conducted by Help Porn Addiction, the average male spends 40 minutes a week watching porn. That’s 40 minutes a week watching greased-up blokes hung like horses jack-hammering away with seemingly endless stamina and total control over their equipment to enthusiastic vocal support from their on-screen partner(s).

Jack describes his misery as stemming from worrying about his prowess in the bedroom: “My self-consciousness inhibited my sexual performance, which made me feel even worse.” Anxiety about achieving, maintaining or performing with an erection is actually a chief cause of penises failing to rise to the occasion, and who could blame them under all that pressure? Sadly, with each failed erection, anxiety about the next one can make it more and more unlikely to happen.

Young men may also be using Viagra to combat the inhibiting effects of other substances. In an interview with The Debrief, one user, Ben, stated, “I take it whenever I’ve had too much to drink or if I’ve done coke.” The position of being a little sloppy after a few too many drinks and trying in vain to coax out an erection for an expectant partner is all too familiar for some.

You may be wondering why this is an issue. After all, Viagra is associated with minimal side effects: minor headaches, flushing, sneezing and painful, prolonged erections. The real risk comes with the combined use of Viagra and other drugs. (Viagra functions by increasing blood flow to the penis and should never be combined with nitrates such as those found in poppers.)

For all the praise it has received as a magic penis-enhancing pill, Viagra, used incorrectly, can leave you broke, ill and deflated. It might be an easy out for some awkward situations but the relief in the short term doesn’t outweigh the risk of long-term trouble. Unless there’s a medical necessity, leave Viagra to those who really need it. Relax, and remember that what you see in porn,
on TV and in movies isn’t what’s out there in the real world. ML