Alcohol, drug abuse test can predict risky teenage sexual behaviour

October 19th, 2009 - 2:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Oct 19 (IANS) Alcohol and drug use are known contributors to teenagers engaging in dangerous practices like unprotected sex, multiple partners, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and drug overdose.
Yet, research suggests that fewer than half of paediatricians report screening patients for substance use and at-risk sexual behaviour.

CRAFFT, the diagnostic test developed and currently being employed at Children’s Hospital Boston (CH-B), allows primary care physicians to accurately screen teenagers for high risk drug and alcohol use in a matter of minutes.

Now, researchers have established that the CRAFFT diagnostic test can also identify teenagers who are more likely to engage in high risk sexual behaviours.

Researchers found that teenagers who screened positive for substance use had significantly greater odds of having sexual contact after using drugs or alcohol.

The cross-sectional survey consisted of 305 adolescents from 12 to 18-year-olds in three different urban clinics. Participants were asked the CRAFFT questions, and also completed a self-administered questionnaire about high risk sexual behaviours.

Of those who screened positive, 42.6 percent reported having sexual contact without a condom, 26.1 percent after drinking alcohol, 15.6 percent after drug use and 21.7 percent with a drinking partner.

Developed by the Children’s Centre for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research, the CRAFFT screen, includes questions like “do you ever use alcohol or drugs to relax, feel better about yourself, or fit in?”

Answering “yes” to two or more questions is highly predictive of an alcohol or drug-related disorder and now at-risk sexual behaviour, said a CH-B release.

“Clinicians should be prepared to discuss high risk sexual behaviours with their patients along with the dangers of engaging in sexual activity while intoxicated,” said Sharon Levy, study co-author and physician at the Children’s Hospital.

These findings appeared in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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