Study Forecasts Sexual Health Crisis

Researchers from Liverpool John Moores University have warned that Europe’s binge drinking and drug culture among young people could potentially cause a sexual health crisis.
The researchers came to this conclusion after undertaking a study, which revealed that many young people are drinking alcohol in order to boost their chances of having sex and a smaller number are also using drugs to enhance their sexual pleasure. The researchers found that this behaviour significantly increased the chances of people undertaking unsafe sex or having multiple partners.
The study questioned 1,341 people aged 16 to 35 and found that a third of men and a quarter of women drank alcohol to increase their chances of having sex. Of this figure, many also admitted to taking cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis in order to increase their sexual arousal or prolong sex.
Indeed, the study found that over a quarter (26%) of cocaine users used it to prolong sex. People who regularly took cocaine were also over five times more likely to have had five or more sexual partners in the last 12 months, or to have used prostitutes/paid for sex. In addition to these findings, more than one in seven regular ecstasy users said they had recently exchanged sex for drugs.
The study also found that young people who had used alcohol, cannabis, cocaine or ecstasy prior to the age of 16 were more likely to have had underage sex. Indeed, the study suggested that boys using cannabis before the age 16 were almost three times more likely to have had underage sex than those who had not, while girls were 6. 4 times more likely. In addition to this, boys who drank under the age of 16 were 2. 47 times more likely to have had underage sex and girls were 5. 7 times more likely.
Mark Bellis, of the University’s Centre for Public Health, led the study. He explained that the findings indicated drinking and drugs were becoming “routine”, he said: “Trends in recent decades have resulted in recreational drug use and binge drinking becoming routine features of European nightlife. ” He also added that the study suggested drug and alcohol use often led young people to make sexual decisions that they may later regret. He said: “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. “
The cities included in the study were Liverpool in the UK, Vienna in Austria, Lisbon in Portugal, Brno in the Czech Republic, Berlin in Germany, Athens in Greece, Venice in Italy, Ljubljana in Slovenia, and Palma in Spain.

Sarah Hyllok is an expert on sexually transmitted diseases. She has spent 15 years as a sex therapist helping bored couples.
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