Alcohol and sex

Alcohol affects both your feelings and your judgement. Many people feel more relaxed after a few beers, that a few drinks help get the conversation started and will make those around you both more attractive and better company. But alcohol and sex are a bad combination.

POSITIVE EXPERIENCES

Your teenage years are when your interest in sex increases and when the majority of young people have their first sexual experiences. Many adults believe that youngsters are intoxicated when they have sex for the first time. But that isn’t the case. The majority of young people have not drunk alcohol when they make their sexual debut. Teenagers  themselves also state that their most recent sexual experiences were positive and felt secure.

A lot of people cheat when they’re drunk. It’s like you don’t think, you just do.

Julius, aged 15, Örebro

IT CAN DAMAGE SELF-ESTEEM

The whole closeness and sex thing can be tricky, and for many, it feels easier when you’ve drunk alcohol. Even small amounts of alcohol can reduce our nervousness and inhibitions, and can make you feel more relaxed and bold. And if it felt embarrassing, there’s always something to blame it on later.  But it’s hard to feel the intimacy that you can both give and receive during physical contact with someone else if you have alcohol in your system.  And if your first sexual experience with another person happens when you’re drunk, there’s also a real risk that, over time, it will feel natural to be intoxicated during sex. And eventually, you may not know how to get close to someone or have sex without alcohol.

UNPROTECTED SEX

Alcohol impairs your judgement, and the same is true when it comes to safe and consensual sex. We’re less aware, and what may initially be perceived as a positive effect of the alcohol can turn into something negative. It can lead to unprotected sex, 23 per cent of upper secondary students state that they didn’t use protection when they had sex under the influence. Girls take greater responsibility than boys, not just before and during sex, but afterwards too, e.g. when it comes to testing for sexually transmitted infections.

If you're trying to get off with someone but get turned down, you can always blame it on being drunk.

Hanna, aged 16, Gothenburg

SEX YOU REGRET

9 per cent of year 2 upper secondary school students who drink state that they have had sex when drunk, that they later regretted. And sadly, young people do have sex against their will when they’re drunk. As an adult, it’s important that you talk to your child about the importance of sex being both safe and consensual. Make it very clear that they should only have sex if they really want to. And that there are, of course, no excuses whatsoever for sexual assault.

YOUNG PEOPLE WATCH PORN

Pornography has become an easily accessible and major part of many teenagers’ lives. Most boys and the majority of girls have consumed pornography at least once in their teens. It is easy to acquire a distorted image of what’s expected of you. Porn is usually one-sided and emotionally disengaged. The content that young people encounter is often crude, aggressive, and degrading. And porn often has a number of negative effects on teenagers, ranging from physical harm and sexual violence to performance anxiety and an impact on body image.  We also know that young people who watch a lot of porn also drink more alcohol than young people who don’t. It’s important that you, as an adult, talk to your child about how what they’re seeing does not reflect the reality of intimacy or sexual relationships. Nuance the picture that porn paints and highlight the risks.

More to read about the same topic

The teenage years

The teenage years are a very special time in your child’s life. Teenagers are navigating the frontier lands between childhood and adulthood and there are a lot of new things to handle: school, friends, being allowed to stay out late, sex, parties and – not least – alcohol.

Useful contacts and more info

It can sometimes be good to talk to someone who knows a bit more about teenagers and alcohol, or about anything else, for that matter.

If you want to do more

There’s a lot you can do to support and be there for teenagers. Maybe you can take part in night-time patrols, or make it easier for them to say “no”, or help promote a smarter approach to alcohol in some other way.

Other important topics to read about

Teenagers and alcohol

There are many considerations that can easily arise when your child becomes a teenager. But first and foremost: how do young people think about drinking themselves? And why is it more dangerous to drink alcohol in adolescence than as an adult?

Take responsibility

Maybe you sometimes feel pretty helpless as a parent. But there’s a lot you can do. As always showing that you care, that you’re there and that you are happy to listen. And often it’s important to be clear about what you expect of your teenager.

If parents are not around

Festivals, home parties and trips abroad are examples of situations where adults are rarely present. There are some pitfalls that you, as a parent, should be aware of and that you can teach your teenager how to handle.

Yes or no?

The clearer you communicate your expectations, the easier it is for your teenager to take a stand or do what you say. Also, think about what sort of message and values you’re conveying to your child.

Teenager’s drinking habits

Not only is it illegal to buy alcohol for young people, but most adults think that alcohol is something teenagers should be avoiding. So where are teenagers getting their alcohol? How much do they drink? And what sort of problems do young people experience in connection to alcohol?

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