Lethal combinations of sex drugs and alcohol
Alcohol and drugs are factors leading to risky sex. The most common consequences are usually, unintended pregnancy in the case of women, sexually transmitted infections, sexual violence and other adverse outcomes. Drinking and taking drugs in sexual situations are mostly aimed at sensation seeking and pleasure stimulation. For this reason it is not strange that having sex without a condom or having numerous sex partners become a priority for those looking for new experiences.
A recent study published by the Centre for Substance Abuse Research of the University of Maryland has showed that among first-year female students who ever had vaginal sex nearly half had sex without condoms, one third had multiple partners and the majority had sex under the influence of alcohol or other drugs during the past six months prior to the study. The study also noted that drug use gave an additional risk for having multiple sex partners, regardless of drinking habits. According to the evidence the association was also observed prospectively: among women who had multiple sex partners, only drugs were significantly predictive of continuing to have multiple sex partners.
There is a lot of evidence why alcohol and drugs influence risky sex. The same study continues explaining that firstly, heavy alcohol use is related to riskier patterns of decision making about sex partners, such as having more sex partners or having sex that was not planned with casual and new partners. This happens because of the acute disinhibiting effects that alcohol and drugs have in people and also because of the lowered risk perception with new sex partners. Secondly, substance abuse can have a harmful effect on safer-sex behaviours once a sexual encounter has began. To this explanation it must be added that several studies have demonstrated that alcohol and drug intoxication reduce the likelihood of using condoms and other contraceptives.
Another study focusing on barebacking, club drug use and meaning of sex in Black and Latino gay and bisexual men in NY published by the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy offers vivid examples of that by providing vivid first account narratives of risky sex. This occurs because while gay men tend to identify substance use as major cause of unprotected sex, substance using gay men report unprotected insertive anal intercourse and unprotected receptive anal intercourse at the rates of 21% and 23% respectively with 32% indicating a combination of the two. Similarly to gay men, women, for being the receptive partners in heterosexual encounters, are subject to higher HIV transmissibility and therefore more likely than heterosexual males to contract HIV.
Gay men who practice bareback sex are more likely to use drugs like amphetamines, barbiturates, cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine, marijuana, inhalant nitrates, GHB, and methamphetamine as well as injecting other drugs. Here are some of the reasons given by the interviewees and drug users to practice unprotected sex:
Some decided that bareback was a form to reaffirm their homosexual identity
“Because I love my partner we both decided that bareback sex is what we want to do. So it was mutual agreement. So, it was a mutual agreement. Yeah, there is a difference, because I do care about him. I want be up in him. I don’t want a condom on. I want to feel everything” (Black HIV-positive).
Others could not resist the temptation of the moment:
“We were watching videos, doing a few lines of cocaine and then clothes started coming off. From touching to kissing, then from kissing to oral sex to anal sex. We used condoms for anal sex but not for oral sex” (Black HIV-positive)
“It was like understood when we got to my place it (bareback sex) was going to happen, we got undressed when we got there, and we did some more lines. It’s very risky behaviour; I mean I don’t know the person. I don’t their HIV status, and I’m having unprotected sex” (Black male, HIV status unknown)
And others explained their disinhibitions:
“Sometimes when I smoke cocaine.... I can take my first hit of it and I just start to drop my pants for somebody and he could start sucking my cock” (Black Male, HIV status unknown)
“I had put some coke on the head of my dick and had him lick it off, and that kind turned me on even more” (Latino Male, HIV-Positive)
“It helps me get into the mood. It relaxes me, especially when you’ve been with your partner for a long time. When I haven’t had sex with him for a while, I’m nervous when we do it. I’m thinking. Can I get hard? Is it going to be good? Am I going to like it? (Black male, HIV-Negative)
“Ecstasy is wonderful because it smoothes out that hardness from the coke and it’s a very flowing type of liquid feel. And, I’ve noticed that I get the feeling that I’m making love. And I hold the person even more and I notice they are holding me even more (Latino male, HIV-Negative)
Continuing with the main ideas described so far another article published by Drug and Alcohol Dependence also contains examples of gay and bisexual men narrating their sexual experiences under the influence of methamphetamine, also known as Tina, or crystal-meth:
“Tina, it just made me like- I don’t know, it’s like more, like more sexual aggressive, like sexual, like sexual. I just wanted to have sex. Sex was amazing. You could do it for hours. It was great. It was great. And actually it was more intense. And actually it was more intense. I think. It was more intense”
“It was just the two of us in his apartment and it was pretty apparent that sex was going to happen also. So he actually, before anything had even happened after we smoked he shoved Viagra down my throat. He’s like here, you’re going to need this. I was like Oh yeah! Because I guess he wanted to get fucked all night. And we did. And like you know it was, you know, it made me, I had a lot of sort of energy and it made me really, really aggressive”
Although all these experiences may sound tempting it must be noted that substances like crystal-meth are highly addictive and also that people while enjoying their brief highs do not think too much about the ever lasting consequences of their irrational actions. For that reason good education and information about the side effects of the substances used to enjoy sex should be a must before engaging in any sexual activity. In addition the long path to a pleasurable experience must also be planned according to the rational limits established long before starting the journey.