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The Association Between Alcohol and Sexual Risk Behaviors Among College Students: a Review

Abstract

Purpose of Review

Alcohol use is prevalent among college students and may contribute to sexual risk behavior engagement. A narrative review of the recent empirical literature examining the association between alcohol use and sexual risk behaviors among college student samples was conducted. The purpose of this review was to (a) review studies examining the association between alcohol use and risky sexual behaviors and (b) overview research investigating alcohol expectancies and partner characteristics as factors that may influence the alcohol-risky sex relation among college students.

Recent Findings

Findings regarding the direct link between alcohol use and sexual risk behaviors were mixed. Results suggest a more nuanced association between alcohol and risky sexual behaviors that is influenced by alcohol expectancies and partner characteristics.

Summary

Results highlight the importance of considering additional factors that may influence the alcohol-risky sex relation. Future interventions targeting alcohol-related sexual risk behavior engagement among college students are needed.

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Correspondence to Jennifer L. Brown.

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Conflict of Interest

Dr. Jennifer L. Brown, Nicole K. Gause, and Nathan Northern declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

Funding

Jennifer L. Brown was supported by a grant (R03DA0377860) from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Addiction and College Students

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Brown, J.L., Gause, N.K. & Northern, N. The Association Between Alcohol and Sexual Risk Behaviors Among College Students: a Review. Curr Addict Rep 3, 349–355 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40429-016-0125-8

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Keywords

  • Alcohol
  • Condom use
  • Risky sexual behaviors
  • College students
  • Alcohol expectancies
  • Partner characteristics