One of the biggest things on researchers’ minds today is what leads to serious substance abuse problems. Understanding the triggers, environmental and physiological, that cause substance abuse and addiction, can help to eliminate these problems in people around the world. Time Magazine recently released a story creating a correlation between larger numbers of sex partners or sexual promiscuity in general and a higher risk for developing alcoholism or drug addiction. The research indicates that the risk is even higher for women.
Researchers have been exploring the relationship between risky sexual behavior and substance abuse problems in a report that was recently published in Archives of Sexual Behavior. The study was conducted in Dunedin, New Zealand, and involved following nearly every single person born between 1972 and 1973 through to adulthood. The study asked each participant about their alcohol use, substance abuse and sexual partners.
Women who reported having two to three or more sexual partners between the ages of 18 and 20 years of age were as much as 10 times more likely to develop a substance abuse problem in comparison to women who had no sexual partners or only one during this period. When women was promiscuous by age 20, an alcohol or marijuana problem developed by the age of 21.
Individuals who had two to three or more partners between the ages of 21 and 25 experienced a factor-of-7 increase in the risk of addiction or substance abuse by the age of 26. By the age of 32, this risk was almost 18 times greater in women that had experienced between two and three partners between the ages of 26 and 31 as compared to individuals who had had no or only one partners during that period.
The study also found an increased risk in men, though the risk increase was not as great. More than a single sexual partner between the ages of 18 and 20 had nearly tripled the risk for serious substance abuse issues by the age of 21. Having more than two to three partners can quadruple the risk for men. These connections that the research is noting are not surprising, but the implications that they are creating might be quite profound.
The Centers for Disease Control reports that 24 percent of women and 29 percent of men between 20 and 24 have had at least two sexual partners in the past year. Women are thought to be under reporting this number in particular.
The researchers behind this study, which was led by the University of Otago and Sandhya Ramrakha in New Zealand, are speculating that there could be several specific explanations for these connections. Impulsivity, for example, can increase all types of risky behavior, and so it may be driving the sexual activity as well as the substance abuse. People who are naturally impulsive are going to be a lot more likely to engage in both of these types of activities, and so they may be simultaneously dealing with substance abuse and promiscuity without there being a specific correlation between the two.
This research is shedding some light on a potential link between substance abuse and promiscuity or risky sexual behavior, but there is still a lot to understand on the subject. Whether there is a concrete correlation between the two types of behavior is not yet known, but research is shedding new light on the subject.