AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 1352–1362 | Cite as

Risky Sex in High-Risk Adolescents: Associations with Alcohol Use, Marijuana Use, and Co-Occurring Use

  • Arielle S. GillmanEmail author
  • Elizabeth A. Yeater
  • Sarah W. Feldstein Ewing
  • Alberta S. Kong
  • Angela D. Bryan
Original Paper


Risky sexual behavior and substance use appear to be interconnected behaviors among adolescents, but data are scarce regarding the extent to which sexual risk behavior is associated with high levels of marijuana and alcohol use, both separately and in combination. 301 adolescents were recruited from a short-term detention facility, and substance use and risky sexual behavior were assessed. We found that adolescents who frequently used marijuana, but not alcohol, reported significantly less risky sex as well as greater intentions to use condoms than either adolescents who frequently used alcohol, but not marijuana, or adolescents who frequently used both substances. Substance use status as a predictor of future risky sexual behavior followed a similar pattern. When designing interventions to reduce substance use in the context of risky sex, it might be especially effective to target efforts toward reducing harm associated with alcohol use, either alone or in combination with marijuana use.


Risky sexual behavior Juvenile justice Adolescents Marijuana Alcohol Substance use 


El comportamiento sexual riesgoso y el uso de sustancias parecen ser comportamientos interconectados entre los adolescentes, pero son escasos los datos con respecto al grado hasta el cual el comportamiento sexual riesgoso  está asociado  con altos niveles de consumo de marihuana y alcohol, tanto por separado como en combinación. Se reclutó a 301 adolescentes de un centro de detención a corto plazo y se evaluó el uso de sustancias y el comportamiento sexual riesgoso. Encontramos que los adolescentes que usaban con frecuencia marihuana, pero no alcohol, reportaron relaciones sexuales significativamente menos riesgosas así como mayores intenciones de usar condones que adolescentes que usaban alcohol con frecuencia, pero no marihuana, o adolescentes que usaban con frecuencia ambas sustancias. El estado de uso de sustancias como predictor de futuros comportamientos sexuales riesgosos mostró un patrón similar. Al diseñar intervenciones para reducir el uso de sustancias en el contexto de las relaciones sexuales de riesgo, podría ser especialmente eficaz centrarse en los esfuerzos para reducir el daño asociado con el consumo de alcohol, solo o en combinación con el consumo de marihuana.

Palabras clave

Conducta sexual de riesgo justicia juvenil adolescentes marihuana alcohol consumo de sustancias 



This research was funded by a grant from NIH/NIAAA (Grant Number 2R01AA013844) to Angela Bryan. We would like to thank Jairo Ramos for his help with the Spanish translation of our abstract.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Arielle Gillman, Elizabeth Yeater, Sarah Feldstein Ewing, Alberta Kong, and Angela Bryan declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arielle S. Gillman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elizabeth A. Yeater
    • 2
  • Sarah W. Feldstein Ewing
    • 3
  • Alberta S. Kong
    • 4
  • Angela D. Bryan
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and NeuroscienceUniversity of Colorado BoulderBoulderUSA
  2. 2.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA
  3. 3.Department of Child & Adolescent PsychiatryOregon Health and Science UniversityPortlandUSA
  4. 4.Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of PediatricsUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA

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