A Recipe for Disaster

Many people are already aware there is a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) problem on the planet. In case you have been living in a cave, let me give you a quick re-cap: STDs can be either viral or bacterial. The main differences between the two are that STDs caused by a virus are not curable. The symptoms can be treated but the virus never leaves your body. These include Herpes and HIV. HPV is also a virus. Currently, the CDC estimates that about 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. About 14 million people become newly infected with HPV each year. While there are many strains of HPV that resolve themselves, these and other strains can cause genital warts and have been linked to cervical cancer. STDs caused by bacteria include Gonorrhea and Chlamydia. These are curable with medicine your doctor must prescribe but often if the STD has gone untreated for a while there can be permanent damage to the reproductive organs leading to fertility problems down the road.

STDs are transmitted through unprotected sexual contact with an infected person. Sexual contact refers to oral, anal and penile-vaginal sex. This is why it is important to use condoms and dental dams during sexual activity, to get tested and have your partner get tested too. According to a survey on TopHerpesDatingSites.info (which provides herpes dating sites reviews for STD singles), In a perfect world everyone would be comfortable having the conversation about getting tested and sexual health with their partners and everyone would practice safer sex.

Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world we live in the real world, and in the real world things are far less than perfect. One of the biggest issues related to increased rates and risk for sexually transmitted disease infection is the use of drugs and/or alcohol. Many people do not put two and two together and understand how these issues are related.

Part of being sexually healthy is being responsible for your physical health and the physical health of your partner. That means making healthy decisions when it comes to protection against pregnancy, HIV and STDs. What is a healthy decision? Basically it is protecting yourself and your partner from unplanned pregnancy and HIV/STD infection. That means getting tested regularly if you are not in a monogamous relationship, agreeing what method of contraception you will use to prevent pregnancy and using condoms and dental dams to prevent STDs and HIV. This all sounds like it is geared toward couples who are in long term relationships. Granted the information is relevant to them but it also stands for hook-ups, casual sexual encounters, and relationships where there are more than two people involved. Perhaps more so for the latter as it is common in hook-ups, one night stands and casual encounters not to be sure of someone’s HIV or STD status.

According to the CDC alcohol is the most widely used and abused drug among youth in the United States. Binge drinking is a particular problem. Binge drinking is defined as drinking for the express purpose of becoming intoxicated and usually involves drinking a large amount of alcohol in a short amount of time.

The CDC reports the following statistics about binge drinking in the United States:

National surveys show that about 1 in 2 women of child-bearing age (i.e., aged 18–44 years) use alcohol, and 15% of women who drink alcohol in this age group binge drink.

While binge drinking is more common among young adults aged 18–34 years, binge drinkers aged 65 years and older report binge drinking more often—an average of five to six times a month.

Approximately 92% of U.S. adults who drink excessively report binge drinking in the past 30 days.

Although college students commonly binge drink, 70% of binge drinking episodes involve adults age 26 years and older.

The prevalence of binge drinking among men is twice the prevalence among women.

Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to report alcohol-impaired driving than non-binge drinkers.

About 90% of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is in the form of binge drinks.

More than half of the alcohol consumed by adults in the United States is in the form of binge drinks.

When you throw drugs and/or alcohol into the mix along with sex a few things can happen or rather not happen. When someone has had too much to drink or is in an altered state they are not thinking clearly and not always able to make the best decisions. For example:

In men, excessive alcohol consumption increases aggression and, as a result, can increase the risk of physically assaulting another person.

Excessive alcohol use is commonly involved in sexual assault, meaning the assailant, victim or both are often under the influence of alcohol. For women being intoxicated leaves her vulnerable and defenseless. Sexual predators often seek out women who are intoxicated because they cannot fight them off, or even passed out and targets for sexual assault.

Drug use also puts someone at risk for sexual health issues for the same reasons as alcohol. Anything that alters your consciousness impedes your ability to make informed, rational decisions, especially where sex is involved. Further, if someone is an IV Drug user and they have sex while they are high, they are more likely to share needles and have unprotected sex. Both of these things drastically increase the chances of HIV and STD infection.

Alcohol/drugs is used as a social lubricant by many people to help them relax. However too much of a good thing lowers inhibitions and raises risky behavior. We have all heard of beer goggles being responsible for you going home with someone you would not have otherwise gone home with if you were sober. The data is very clear in showing that not only do drugs/alcohol make a person more apt to have sex with someone they do not know well they are less likely to use condoms or dental dams to protect themselves against pregnancy and HIV/STDs. In other words, risky behavior increases with alcohol and/or drug use.

If you know you are going to go to a party or place where you will have the opportunity to use alcohol or drugs, do so in moderation. Keep condoms and dental dams in your wallet or purse in case you decide you want to have a sexual encounter with someone. If someone has had too much to drink and doesn’t realize what they are doing or cannot consent to sexual activity don’t have sex with them.

If you do end up having unprotected sex with someone you do not know with 100% certainty does not have HIV/STD go see your doctor as soon as possible for testing and discuss taking prophylactic medication for HIV and some STD’s as a precaution. If you did not use a method of contraception and are female, ask about getting emergency contraception which can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected intercourse to prevent pregnancy.

Drugs and too much alcohol mixed with sex are like oil and water. Or rather kerosene and a match. They just don’t go together.