Alcohol and STDs
There is a high correlation between the abuse of alcohol and STDs. Intoxication lowers inhibitions and negatively impacts decision-making, leading to risky, and ultimately damaging, behavior.
The Relationship Between Alcohol and STDs
Many studies and clinics have confirmed there is a high correlation between alcohol and STDs, or sexually-transmitted diseases. As the name suggests, STDs are infectious diseases that can be transmitted through sexual contact. STDs are also commonly referred to as STIs, or sexually-transmitted infections.
Alcohol strongly influences men and women to engage in risky activities while under the influence. Alcohol lulls the drinker into a state of higher confidence and lower inhibition, leading them to make riskier choices. For instance, there is a correlation between unprotected sex, with both strangers and familiar partners, and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
Examples of common STDs include:
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Bacterial Vaginosis
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS)
College Students, Alcohol, and STDs
Anyone at any age can be at risk for catching a disease due to the lack of conscious decisions while under the influence of alcohol. However, young adults such as college students, are some of the most susceptible to contracting an STD due to their drinking patterns. Students on spring break, for example, often drink excessively, use poor judgement and decision making with intoxicated friends, or even strangers. Make sure if you do choose to drink alcohol, you know your limits, drink in moderation, and drink plenty of water or other non-alcoholic drinks in between. Planning how many alcoholic drinks you will intake overtime, accompanied by food and water, will help you stay in control for the rest of the night.
Binge Drinking and STDs
Binge drinking is defined as consuming 4 or more drinks in 2 hours consumed for women or 5 or more drinks consumed for men within 2 hours. Binge drinking does not affect the rate at which the body processes alcohol. However, considering it takes one hour to process one standard drink, it will take longer for the body to process all of the drinks consumed due to the overabundance. Binge drinking forces the body to get more intoxicated and stay intoxicated longer, creating an even greater chance to engage in risky sexual activity and be exposed to STDs.
Binge drinking males are almost four times as likely to contract an STD in the last year than non-drinkers. Binge drinking is very commonly involved in alcohol-related sexual assault, and alcohol-related sexual assaults are often regarded as more severe than assaults that do not involve alcohol.
Can Alcohol Decrease Your Body’s Resistance to STDs?
Alcohol can weaken your immune system, making it easier to catch a cold, flu, or an STD. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can take a toll on your body, and if you contract a disease, it can be harder to fight it off.
Who Is More at Risk to Catch an Alcohol-Related STD – Males or Females?
Studies have established that women have a higher biological risk of contracting an STD such as HIV than men. There is also a higher probability of transmission from a man to a woman than vice versa. Women are also more likely to have longer-term health consequences from STDs.
Generally, males have more body mass than females, which contributes to the fact that if an average male and female consume the same amount of drinks, the female will usually become more drunk. A woman might try to keep up with a man’s drinking, only to become more intoxicated due to her higher alcohol blood content, or BAC, therefore increasing the chances of STD exposure.
Intoxication from alcohol can make you black out. During this blackout stage, you are still relatively active, but you are not consciously thinking about your actions, nor will you remember them. Alcohol will make you more inclined to partake in activities you might not be willing to at a sober state. For many, alcohol plays a heavy role in deciding whether to go home with a stranger at a bar. In that drunken moment, you probably won’t be in the right decision state of mind to ask their past health history or even ask to use protection, leaving you exposed and suffering the consequences of anything the night brings forth.
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Alcohol can ruin your night and the next day after trying to remember all of the decisions it helped influence. Unfortunately, alcohol can cause some serious life-altering consequences you might not be able to take back or get over the next day. Being exposed to an STD can be life changing. Some STDs you can be exposed to by the influence of alcohol can be cured; however, many STDs are not curable and can stay with you throughout the rest of your life. Don’t let one drunken night alter the course of your life. Be smart, and know your limits.
Get Help Now
If you or someone you know are putting yourself at risk of disease or injury due to alcohol abuse and can’t stop. The time to seek help is now, before something worse happens. If you need help quitting drinking, know that you aren’t alone. Help is out there. Contact a treatment professional now to start getting your life on track.
Clinical Reviewer — Last Reveiwed: November 5, 2019
CDC. (2000). Alcohol Policy and Sexually Transmitted Disease Rates- United States, 1981-1995. Retrieved on May 2nd 2018 at https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4916a3.htm
Destinations. (2018). How Alcohol Use Increases the Risk of STDs. Retrieved on May 2nd 2018 at http://destinationsforteens.com/how-alcohol-use-increases-the-risk-of-stds
NCBI. (2009). The Relationship Between Recent Alcohol Use and Sexual Behaviors. Retrieved on May 2nd 2018 at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2588489/
Science Daily. (2011). Alcohol Impairs the Body’s Ability to Fight off Viral Infection, Study Finds. Retrieved on May 2nd 2018 at https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110929235156.htm
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