New York: If a girl's first sexual experience involves alcohol, she is more likely to be at risk for problems such as sexual assault, and this risk may persist in her future also, new research has found.
"Drinking to intoxication places adolescent females at increased risk through exposure to high-risk sexual partners found in drinking contexts such as parties,” said study author Jennifer Livingston, senior research scientist at the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) in New York.
"These partners may be significantly older, more aggressive, not well known or substance users themselves," Livingston explained.
The study surveyed 228 women, ages 18 to 20, about their sexual experiences and drinking habits.
The average age the women began drinking was 14 and the average age for first sexual intercourse was 16.
Livingston found that first sexual experiences involving alcohol were most likely to occur outside the context of a relationship (a "hook-up"), with a partner who was also using substances and after a social gathering involving alcohol.
Alcohol-involved first experiences were less planned, less desired and rated more negatively overall than those not involving alcohol, which usually occurred in the context of a romantic relationship and were described as wanted, planned and more positive.
Nearly 20 percent of the young women in the alcohol-involved group reported their first intercourse experiences were without consent, or rape.
Even more troubling, these young women were found to be three times more likely to be victims of incapacitated rape in the future.
"Over time, these young women continued to use alcohol in conjunction with sex, which further exposed them to high-risk partners,” Livingston said.
"In these contexts, there is less discussion of birth control and greater risk of sexually transmitted diseases, sexual assault and unintended pregnancy," she pointed out.
The findings appeared in the Journal of Adolescence.