Drinking and Risky Sexual Behavior
- Alcohol is by far the most commonly-used drug among youth; in fact, young people are twice as likely to use alcohol as the nearest illegal drug.1
- High school drinkers are two and a half times more likely to have had sex in the past 3 months as compared to non-drinkers.2
- In a study of 1034 students from Brooklyn, NY, females who reported alcohol use by the fall of 7th grade were almost twice as likely as their alcohol-delaying peers to have initiated sexual intercourse or engaged in recent sexual intercourse by the 10th grade.3
- In 2013, 1 in 5 (22.4%) sexually active high school students drank alcohol or used drugs before their last sexual intercourse:4
- In a sample of 1,472 first year undergraduate males, 75% of sexual assault perpetrators drank alcohol before their most recent incident. Binge drinking predicted alcohol-involved sexual assault, and alcohol-related assaults were more severe than those assaults that did not involve alcohol.5
- In 2013, 1 in 10 (11.4%) current high school drinkers, and 1 in 8 (13.6%) high school binge drinkers reported being physically forced to have sexual intercourse. Drinkers are more than twice as likely to report this as non-drinkers.1
- Forty seven percent of undergraduate students who were raped or sexually assaulted thought their attacker was under the effect of alcohol/drugs.6
- In 2001, an estimated 97,000 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 were sexually assaulted or date raped by another drinking college student.7
- Women who drink six or more standard drinks per day are more likely to be victims of sexual assault. Additionally, the risk of sexual assault increases as women increase the number of drinks per day.8
Risky Sexual Behavior
- Underage undergraduates were 23% less likely to use a condom during sexual intercourse when they were drunk.9
- Young adult drinkers are twice as likely as non-drinkers to have had a sexually transmitted disease during the past year. Heavy drinking males are almost four times as likely, and heavy drinking females are three and a half times as likely.10
- In a study of college females, if a young woman’s first sexual intercourse involves alcohol, it is more likely to be unplanned and involve much older and casual partners.11
Updated December 2015
Drinking and Risky Sexual Behavior (printer-friendly version)
1 Calculated from YRBS public use data. Accessed October 12, 2015 at: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/data.htm
2 Anderson JE, Mueller TE. (2008). Trends in sexual risk behavior and unprotected sex among high school students, 1991-2005: The role of substance use. Journal of School Health, 78(11):575-580.
3 Stueve, A. and O'Donnell, L. N. (2005). Early alcohol initiation and subsequent sexual and alcohol risk behaviors among urban youths. American Journal of Public Health. 95(5):887-893.
4 Kann, L., Kinchen, S., & Shanklin, S. L. Flint, K. H., Hawkins, M. A., Harris, W. A. et al. (2014). Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance — United States, 2013. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 63(No. SS-4). Accessed October 11, 2015 at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss6304.pdf
5 Sexual assault was measured using the revised Sexual Experiences Survey. Kingree, J. B. and Thompson, M. (2015). A Comparison of Risk Factors for Alcohol-Involved and Alcohol-Uninvolved Sexual Aggression Perpetration. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 30(9):1478–1492.
6 US Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs. (2014). Rape and Sexual Assault Victimization among College-Age Females, 1995–2013. Accessed November 7, 2015 at: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/rsavcaf9513.pdf
7 Hingson, R. W., Zha, W., and Weitzman, E. R. (2009). Magnitude of and Trends in Alcohol-Related Mortality and Morbidity among U.S. College Students Ages 18-24, 1998-2005. Journal of Studies on Alcohol Drugs, 16:12-20.
8 Bryan, A. E. B., Norris, J., Abdallah, D. A., Stappenbeck, C. A., Morrison, D. M., Davis, K. C., George, W. H., Danube, C. L., and Zawacki, T. (2015). Longitudinal Change in Women’s Sexual Victimization Experiences as a Function of Alcohol Consumption and Sexual Victimization History: A Latent Transition Analysis. Psychology of Violence, Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0039411
9 Kerr, D. C., Washburn, I. J., Morris, M. K., Lewis, K. A., and Tiberio, S. S. (2015). Event-Level Associations of Marijuana and Heavy Alcohol Use With Intercourse and Condom Use. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 76(5): 733-737.
10 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The NSDUH Report: Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Substance Use. Rockville, MD: Office of Applied Studies; March 20, 2007. Accessed November 20, 2015 at: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data/2k7/std/std.pdf
11 Livingston, J. A., Testa, M., Windle, M., and Bay-Cheng L. Y. (2015). Sexual Risk at First Coitus: Does Alcohol Make a Difference? Journal of Adolescence, 43:148–158.