University students who drink heavily report considerably more unsafe sex, unhappy sexual
experiences and unwanted advances than their moderate drinking peers, according to a survey of
students at five universities in New Zealand.
The survey of 2,548 male and female undergraduates found a clear link between binge drinking during high school years and heavy drinking and potentially
harmful sexual experiences at university.
The survey also found that students who started to drink at a younger age were more likely to report
heavy drinking at university and have more problems related to sexual experiences.
In the survey, participants were asked to provide information on drinking patterns and alcohol-related problems during the preceding four weeks, along with information about their past drinking experiences.
More than 80% of both men and women reported drinking alcohol in the four weeks preceding the
survey, and 37% reported binge drinking in the last week.
Professor Jennie Connor of the Dunedin School of Medicine, Otago University stated that of the students who had done any drinking in the past four weeks,
8.3% of men and 5.3% of women reported at least one episode of unsafe sex due to drinking in that time.
There was also a high frequency of unwanted sexual advances due to other people’s drinking reported
by students, with 12% of men and 21% of women affected in the last 4 weeks. These experiences were more common in students who drank more heavily, with unsafe sex being 10 times more likely in the heaviest drinking group than the lightest.
Professor Connor argued that while there are many factors that contribute to risky and unwanted sexual
behaviour, preventive measures need to include
reducing levels of hazardous drinking.
“Furthermore, this study provides evidence for
families about the value of delaying initiation of
drinking, and about the effects of the heavy-drinking peer culture that young people are exposed to while still at school.”
Source: Drinking history, current drinking and problematic sexual experiences among university students. Connor, Jennie; Gray, Andrew; Kypri, Kypros. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Volume 34, Number 5, October 2010, pp. 487-494(8)