Youths stoke libido with drink, drugs

May 9th, 2008 - 11:24 am ICT by admin  

Washington, May 9 (IANS) Is sex driving people to alcohol and drugs? Maybe, says a new study that found many teens and young adults using alcohol and drugs in an elaborate strategy to increase their chances of sex. The pan-Europe study of people aged 16 to 35 found a third of the males and a quarter of females were drinking alcohol to increase their chances of sex, while cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis are intentionally used to enhance sexual arousal or prolong sex.

The study, which covered over 1,300 people who routinely socialise in nightlife settings such as clubs and discos, has been published in BioMed Central’s open access journal, BMC Public Health.

Most participants had consumed alcohol, with the first drink at 14 or 15 years. Three quarters of the respondents had tried or used cannabis, while around 30 percent had at least tried ecstasy or cocaine.

Overall, alcohol was most likely to be used to facilitate a sexual encounter, while cocaine and cannabis were more likely to be utilised to enhance sexual sensations and arousal.

Despite these perceived sexual “benefits”, drunkenness and drug use were strongly associated with an increase in risky behaviour and feeling regretful about having sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Participants who had been drunk over the past four weeks were more likely to have had five or more partners, sex without a condom and to have regretted sex after drink or drugs in the past 12 months. Cannabis, cocaine or ecstasy use was linked to similar consequences.

“Trends in recent decades have resulted in recreational drug use and binge drinking becoming routine features of European nightlife,” said Mark Bellis of Liverpool John Moores University and lead author of the study.

“Millions of young Europeans now take drugs and drink in ways which alter their sexual decisions and increase their chances of unsafe sex or sex that is later regretted.

“Yet, despite the negative consequences, we found many are deliberately taking these substances to achieve quite specific sexual effects.”

Individuals were significantly more likely to have had sex under 16 years if they had used alcohol, cannabis, cocaine or ecstasy before that age.

Girls in particular were as much as four times as likely to have had sex before the age of 16 if they drank alcohol or used cannabis under 16.

“Sexual activity accompanied by substance use is not just incidental, but often sexually motivated,” said co-author Amador Calafat.

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