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When First Sex is Linked to Alcohol, Women May be at Later Risk

When First Sex is Linked to Alcohol, Women May be at Later Risk

A new study discovers a young woman is more likely to be at risk for sexual assault if her first sexual experience involves alcohol.

Jennifer A. Livingston, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) surveyed 228 women, ages 18 to 20, about their sexual experiences and drinking habits. The average age the women began drinking was 14 and the average age for first sexual intercourse was 16.

Livingston found that first sexual experiences involving alcohol were most likely to occur outside the context of a relationship (a “hook-up”), with a partner who was also using substances and after a social gathering involving alcohol.

Researchers discovered alcohol-involved first experiences were less planned, less desired, and rated more negatively overall than those not involving alcohol. When first sex occurred in the context of a romantic relationship, the experience was usually described as wanted, planned, and more positive.

“Drinking to intoxication places adolescent females at increased risk through exposure to high-risk sexual partners found in drinking contexts such as parties. These partners may be significantly older, more aggressive, not well-known or substance users themselves,” Livingston says.

“Over time, these young women continued to use alcohol in conjunction with sex, which further exposed them to high-risk partners. In these contexts, there is less discussion of birth control and greater risk of sexually transmitted diseases, sexual assault, and unintended pregnancy.”

Disturbingly, nearly 20 percent of the young women in the alcohol-involved group reported their first intercourse experiences were without consent, or rape. Even more troubling, these young women were found to be three times more likely to be victims of incapacitated rape in the future.

Livingston says this study raises questions about how schools and parents approach talking about drinking and sex.

“Traditionally, substance use prevention efforts and sexuality education aimed at middle and high school students have been approached separately,” Livingston says.

“Results of this study suggest that it would be beneficial to combine the two. Alcohol-related risks should be addressed in sexuality education and sexual risks included in substance use prevention. Interventions aimed at delaying the initiation of alcohol use or reducing heavy drinking may have the added benefit of reducing risky sexual behavior.”

Source: University of Buffalo
 
Teenagers drinking photo by shutterstock.

When First Sex is Linked to Alcohol, Women May be at Later Risk

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). When First Sex is Linked to Alcohol, Women May be at Later Risk. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 21, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2015/10/16/when-first-sex-is-linked-to-alcohol-women-may-be-at-later-risk/93572.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 16 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.