Study Examines the Relationship Between Substance Abuse and Sexual Activity
January 7, 2000
Dangerous Liaisons: Substance Abuse and Sex, a new report released by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, examines the complex connections between substance abuse and sexual activity.
CASA analyzed national data sets of more than 34,000 teenagers, reviewed over 800 articles and books, and examined prevention and treatment programs concerned with substance abuse, sexual activity, and sexual violence.
Much of the information about the behavior of teenagers included in this report comes from CASA's analysis of the 1997 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBS) conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Alcohol/ Drug Consumption
Alcohol/Drug Use and Sexual Activity
Teenagers Under 15
The authors point out that the relationship alcohol and drugs more likely to engage in sexual activity with more partners, but the more sexual partners teens have the more likely they are to use alcohol and drugs.
While it is clear that teens who drink and use drugs are more likely to have sexual intercourse at earlier ages and with more partners, it is not clear which behavior starts first-sexual intercourse or drinking/drug use.
The relationship between substance abuse and sexual activity is well known. The findings suggest, however, that intervention programs often fail to address this relationship.
The authors recommend that schools, health providers, and social service programs create comprehensive prevention programs that address both substance use and sexual activity. Such programs should offer age-appropriate education about the impact of substance use on sexual pressure, risk-taking, sexual violence, and sexual inhibition.
The authors also suggest that programs should help teenagers manage alcohol and sexual activity by providing practical skill-building exercises such as role playing, negotiation skills, strategies to resist pressure, and ways to avoid risky situations.
For more information:
Dangerous Liaisons: Substance Abuse and Sex, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, 152 West 57th Street, 12th Floor New York, NY 10019-3310; Phone: 212/841-5200; Fax: 212/956-8020; Web site: http://www.casacolumbia.org.
This article was provided by Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. It is a part of the publication SHOP Talk: School Health Opportunities and Progress Bulletin.
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