Alcohol, drugs & sex

Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs can make it difficult to make wise choices and can also result in unsafe sex.

Before you drink it is important to have a good meal, this will slow down the absorption of alcohol in your body. When you are drinking you should keep an eye on how much you are drinking, try not to drink spirits and stay away from fizzy mixers. Don’t get involved into buying rounds, everyone drinks at a different pace. Be aware of how many units you are drinking and the guidelines for safer alcohol drinking, however these are based on an adult with a fully grown healthy liver.

When you are out, make sure you feel safe, stay with friends or people you know, have a plan for getting home and if you need to get a taxi have this booked in advance and keep some money for this. Alcohol dehydrates you, make sure you drink water also.

How much is okay?
The alcohol limit for men from January 2016 been lowered to be the same as for women.  The UK's Chief Medical Officer (CMO) guideline for both men and women is that:

  • You should not drink more than 14 units per week.  This is to keep health risks from drinking alcohol to a low level and
  • If you do drink as much as 14 units per week it is best to spread these evenly across the week.

Heavy drinking can damage organs like your brain and liver - not to mention your relationships, bank balance, job or studies. If you find yourself often drinking alone or think you might have a problem controlling how much you drink, you should talk to someone, e.g. your GP or additionally for young people and young adults the voluntary and community sector project DAISY.

All drugs involve risks and side-effects but there are additional risks in combining drugs with sex. As with alcohol, using drugs and having sex can lead you to take risks that you wouldn't normally take, either because you are less sensitive to pain, or your inhibitions have been reduced, or because you are not in control of the situation. There is more risk of engaging in sex that you did not consent to; have unprotected sex and put yourself at risk of pregnancy or an STI; have sex that hurts you; or not be able to remember the sex that you had. If you have any concerns you about STIs or pregnancy please contact GUM/Sexual Health Clinic or The Clinic.

Page last updated:06 April 2016