Sex, alcohol & drugs

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 locked 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?
Alcohol is measured in units. It is recommended that men aged 18 and above can safely drink up to 3 - 4 units per day or 21 units per week. The limit for women is 2 -3 units per day or 14 units per week.
It is good for your health to have at least 2 alcohol-free days every 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.

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 STI’s or pregnancy please contact GUM/Sexual Health Clinic or Contraceptive Services.

Page last updated:23 December 2014