Study links teen drug and alcohol use with promiscuity
December 7, 1999
University found that teenagers who drink or use drugs are far more likely to have sex at a younger age with multiple partners than peers who don't use alcohol or drugs.
Teens who are 14 or younger who use alcohol are twice as likely to have sex as those in the same age group who don't. The risk is four times as great for those who use drugs as for those who don't, said the report from the university's Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.
Older teens who drink are seven times more likely to have intercourse than non-drinking teens -- and are twice as likely to have four or more sexual partners. Drug-using older teens are five times as likely to have sex as are non-users -- and three times as likely to have four or more partners.
"While it's clear that teens who drink and use drugs are likelier to have sexual intercourse at earlier ages and with many partners, it is not clear which starts first -- sexual intercourse or drinking and drug abuse," said Joseph A. Califano Jr., the research center's chairman.
Much of the sexual intercourse is unprotected and will likely add to the 15 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases occurring in the United States each year, the researchers fear.
"A lot of high school students -- regardless of peer pressure, regardless of external pressures -- are going to do what they want to do. If that want to have sex, they're going to have sex," said Lisa Widawsky, a high school student in New Hyde Park, New York.
But Califano and other experts stressed that parents, counselors and other adult still must play an active role in setting limits for teenagers.
"Adults should be prepared to work with the teen on both matters," he said.
Young people today in general have more sexual intercourse than 30 years ago, the report found. In 1970, 5 percent of 15-year-old girls said they had already had sex; in 1972, 20 percent of 15-year-old boys said they'd had sex. In 1997, the figures for that age group were 45 percent for boys and 38 percent for girls.
The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse has urged middle and high schools to create comprehensive education programs that address the link between substance abuse and sex.
The project was funded by the Henry J. Kaiser Family
Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
The Associated Press and Reporter Jonathan Aiken contributed
to this report.
Researchers report link with teen drinking, drug abuse and promiscuity
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