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Alcohol Consumption and Risky Sexual Behavior amongst Adolescents and Young Adults

Seminar Paper 2018 12 Pages

Medicine - Public Health

Excerpt

Inhalt

Introduction

Correlation between Alcohol Consumption and Risky Sexual Behavior amongst Adolescents and Young Adults

Alcohol Consumption and Risky Sexual Behavior

Major Theories Explaining the Correlation between Alcohol Use and Risky Sexual Behavior

Research Evidence

Consequences of Alcohol Consumption and Risky Sexual Behavior

Contracting sexually transmitted diseases

Unplanned pregnancies

Other health problems

Academic performance

Conclusion

Works Cited

Introduction

In retrospect, substance use and sexual activity are quite common amongst adolescents and young adults. As such, it is emerging that sexual health amongst adolescents and young adults is seemingly becoming a significance public health challenge (Cottonham 1). Owing to the high rates of risky sexual behavior and alcohol use amongst adolescents and young adults, extensive scientific inquiry has focused on investigating the consequences of these issues. Of concern has been the correlation between the co-occurrence of alcohol use and risky sexual behavior with the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS. It is also worth noting that alcohol use has a negative influence on protection against STDs because it impairs the use of protective barriers. Given that adolescents and young adults exhibit a high tendency of sexual risk taking, alcohol use exacerbates the issue of risky sexual behaviors in these groups. Morrison et al. claim that teenagers in the US “do not consistently protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or unintended pregnancy” (162). This explains the magnitude of the problem. Therefore, this paper provides a comprehensive critical analysis on the correlation between alcohol use and risky sexual behaviors amongst the young adults and adolescents. It will also discuss the consequences associated with alcohol use and risky sexual behavior amongst these groups.

Correlation between Alcohol Consumption and Risky Sexual Behavior amongst Adolescents and Young Adults

Over the past decades, alcohol use has been linked to the occurrence of risky sexual behaviors. Marrison et al. claim that alcohol use is considered as a significant factor that has led to an increased risk of HIV infection among adolescents (162).

Alcohol Consumption and Risky Sexual Behavior

Cottonham carried a systemic review of literature on the influence of alcohol consumption on risky sexual behavior amongst young adults and teenagers and found compelling evidence of positive correlation. In his review, several studies revealed that most college students tend to engage in risky sexual behavior while under the influence of alcohol. Additionally, other studies indicated that alcohol consumption amongst college students increases the risk of having unprotected sex (5). This revelation led to an extensive research on the underlying aspects related to alcohol consumption that increases the occurrence of risky sexual behaviors amongst this group. As a result, several alcohol related factors were elucidated as the driving forces behind the high rates of alcohol use and engaging in risky sexual behaviors. Cooper discusses several alcohol related factors which are considered to be responsible for the occurrence of risky sexual behaviors amongst drinkers. First, he claims that alcohol increases chances of engaging in sexual activity. In this context, alcohol is believed to create an environment that promotes sexual activity due to its physical, social and psychological aspects. Second, he claims that alcohol promotes the perception of sexual experiences. This aspect is associated to the influence of alcohol which tends to disinhibit sexual risk taking. In reality, people lose control over their consciousness while under the influence of alcohol. This implies that they become less concerned on the risks associated with their social or sexual behavior. Finally, Cooper observes that alcohol use increases the possibility of engaging in risky sexual behavior (21). In theory, these are referred to as sex related alcohol expectancies.

Major Theories Explaining the Correlation between Alcohol Use and Risky Sexual Behavior

From a theoretical approach, the relationship between alcohol use, sex related expectancies and risky sexual behavior can be explained through the use of the Alcohol Myopia Theory and the Alcohol Expectancy Theory. As discussed by Cottonham, the alcohol myopia theory holds that intoxication with alcohol creates a conflict between positive and negative outcomes. An individual who is under the influence of alcohol experiences sexual arousal and attraction as the positive outcomes. In contrast, these positive outcomes are associated with negative sexual cues such as contracting STDs and other health problems (11). It can also lead to unplanned pregnancies. In other words, alcohol favors positive sexual cues by increasing ones attention to them while masking the negative sexual cues (Lewis et al. 234). This way, the alcohol myopia theory attempts to explain the relationship between risky sexual behavior and alcohol use.

The second theory that explains the correlation between alcohol use and risky sexual behavior is the alcohol expectancy theory. As discussed by Cottonham, alcohol expectancy theory holds alcohol expectancies have a positive influence on sexual behavior. As such, alcohol increases the desire for sexual experiences. Therefore, it is presumed that individuals with strong beliefs on the positive effects of alcohol are more likely to engage in sexual behavior while under the influence of alcohol than those who exhibit weaker beliefs (Gilmore et al. 954). In this case, the alcohol expectancy theory attempts to explain how sex related alcohol expectancies promote risky sexual behavior.

Research Evidence

Owing to the significance of alcohol use and risky sexual behavior amongst young adults and adolescents, a vast literature on the topic exists that provide evidence on the correlation between the two constructs. Despite the variation in methodological approaches adopted by different researchers to investigate the relationship between alcohol use and risky sexual behavior amongst teenagers and young adults, as well as the general population, most studies show a significant relationship between the two constructs.

In one prospective study that was conducted teenage African American females in the US to investigate the correlation between substance use and risky sexual behavior, a significant correlation was confirmed. This study involved 158 participants, aged between 12 and 19 years, who were recruited from family planning and health clinics, most of whom were seeking treatment for STDs or birth control. Overall, findings of this study showed a significant correlation between substance use and risky sexual behavior, r = .43, p < .01. Similar correlation was obtained by Baskin-Sommers and Sommers who investigated the relationship between substance use and the risk of having multiple sexual partners and the likelihood of engaging in unprotected sex amongst college students. This study involved 243 participants aged between 18 and 24 years from diverse races. The results of this study indicated that students who consumed alcohol in the 6-months period were more likely to have multiple sexual partners. A significant correlation of r = .21, p < .01 between alcohol use and risky sexual behavior was confirmed, indicating that alcohol consumption influences the prevalence of STDs and HIV infection. In addition, it was found out that participants were likely to engage in unprotected sex (610).

In another cross-sectional study that was carried out by Choudhry et al. to investigate correlation between alcohol use and risky sexual behavior amongst college students, there was a significant correlation between the two constructs. This study sought to investigate the influence of alcohol use on risky sexual behavior in males and females, separately. Based on the odds ratio (OD), there was a significant correlation between alcohol use and inconsistent condom use with multiple partners. Overall, females had a high risk of inconsistent condom use while under the influence of alcohol compared to males. As such, investigators in this study elucidated two main conclusions that reaffirm the findings of previous studies which found significant correlation between alcohol use and risky sexual behavior. First, it was concluded that situational use of alcohol was significantly associated with unprotected sexual activity. Second, alcohol use was found to be related with risky sexual behavior, especially having multiple sexual partners (128).

Grossman and Markowitz investigated the effect of alcohol use on birth control and condom use among teenagers and documented a significant correlation. Overall, alcohol use was found to be associated with unsafe sex. According to the findings of this study, 50% of males who engaged in binge drinking within the past three months had sex. On the other hand, 34% of females who were involved in binge drinking were reported to have sex (390). It was also found out that teenagers of both genders who used alcohol were unlikely to use birth control and condoms during sexual intercourse compared to those who do not use alcohol and other drugs (391). In general, binge drinking was positively related to sexual activity, as well as having multiple sexual partners.

Systemic reviews have also found a significant relationship between alcohol use and risky sexual behavior in teenagers, as well as, the general public. For instance, Vagenas et al. carried out a systemic review in which they selected 30 studies from a pool of 561 articles. Of the 30 articles used for the review, 27 studies showed a positive relationship between alcohol use and risky sexual behavior. In contrast, only 3 studies showed no relationship between the two variables. However, these studies attributed this outcome to the effectiveness of public health awareness of safe sex (268-269).

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Details

Pages
12
Year
2018
ISBN (eBook)
9783668642874
ISBN (Book)
9783668642881
File size
464 KB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v413335
Institution / College
Egerton University
Grade
1
Tags
alcohol consumption risky sexual behavior adolescents young adults

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Title: Alcohol Consumption and Risky Sexual Behavior amongst Adolescents and Young Adults