Research Nugget

Alcohol Consumption and Risky Sexual Behaviour Among Youth

Alcohol is a major obstacle to achieving 13 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2030. Globally there have been a series of initiatives to reduce harmful alcohol consumption. However, despite these interventions, alcohol consumption continues to escalate and with it, alcohol-related harm and risky sexual behaviour among the youth.

A qualitative study funded by the NRF explored factors that youth identify as contributing to alcohol consumption, and more specifically its relation to risky sexual behaviour. Using focus group discussions with 34 young people between the ages of 18 and 25 years old in low socio-economic status communities, the study revealed that:

  • Overall, high rates of alcohol consumption lead to unplanned sexual activity;
  • Two thematic domains pertaining to alcohol consumption and risky sexual behaviour were identified, as individual and social factors. The individual factors identified to have the most influence are intrapersonal influences, employment, and educational attainment; while interpersonal influences, social influences, and hope for the future contributed to social factors; and
  • Youth living in low socio-economic status communities were thought to be at greater risk of alcohol misuse and subsequent risky behaviour given the political and social history of marginalisation, systematic oppression, and social inequality.

To address alcohol use and risky sexual behaviour among youth, the study recommends that interventions aimed at adolescents should focus on the transition to young adulthood, while interventions with parents should focus on their role in modelling and potentially regulating alcohol consumption. In addition, community interventions should centre on drinking behaviours; levels of drinking; what constitutes harmful drinking; and how to identify when treatment and recovery support is likely to be required.

Access the full paper published in the journal Child Indicators Research here.