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Consent

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Hanover, NH 03755
Phone: 603-646-9430
Email: amanda.childress@dartmouth.edu
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Sex, Drugs & Alcohol

Scenario 1

Kyle: "Last night was super ragey."
Jamie: "I know. We were SO drunk!"
Kyle: "I can't believe we hooked up!"
Jamie: "We had sex?"
Kyle: "Yeah. You don't remember?"


Scenario 2

Ryan and Jordyn stumble to the bed making out and taking each others' shirts off. Ryan stops kissing Jordyn, lays on the bed, and closes their eyes.
Jordyn: "Are you too drunk to be doing this?"
Ryan: "Nope."
Jordyn laughs.
Jordyn: "I'm going to take that as a yes. You look like you're about to pass out."


Scenario 3

Blake: "I'm a bit tipsy."
Casey: "Me too!"
Blake: "I really want to hook up with you."
Casey: "Me too! But I only want to make out, nothing below the belt."
Blake: "Sounds good to me!"

Alcohol and other drugs complicate sex because

  • They impair our judgement
  • They affect our capacity to communicate
  • They impact our ability to read and interpret others' communication

While it is possible to have consenting, positive sexual interactions while using alcohol or other drugs, there's a lot to consider.

Intoxication vs. Incapacitation

Consent cannot be given by a person who is incapacitated. Therefore, it is imperative to be able to determine the difference between incapacitation and intoxication. Incapacitation is a state beyond drunkenness or intoxication.

Some signs of intoxication include, but are not limited to:

  • Slurred speech
  • Weaving or stumbling while walking
  • Exaggerated Emotions

Some signs of incapacitation include, but are not limited to: 

  • Inability to speak coherently
  • Confusion on basic facts (day of the week, birthdate, etc.)
  • Inability to walk unassisted
  • Passing out

With their consent, you can have sex with someone who is intoxicated, but it may be worth thinking about why you want to be intoxicated or why you want to be with someone who is intoxicated when choosing to have sex.

If your partner is showing signs of incapacitation, STOP.

Can you give consent when you've been drinking?

Yes, you can give consent if you have been drinking. However, the ability to give consent depends on your ability to make informed decisions free from pressure, coercion, and incapacitation. If you are incapacitated from alcohol and/or drugs, you cannot give consent.

Can you get consent from someone who has been drinking?

Yes, you can also get consent from someone who has been drinking and/or using drugs as long as it is clear, voluntary and unambiguous. Agreeing to have sex can only happen when it is free from undue influence and pressure. Exploiting a person's impairment from the use of alcohol or other drugs is not okay under any circumstances. If someone is incapacitated from alcohol and/or drug use, they cannot give consent.

If someone has been using alcohol and/or drugs and you are thinking about having any kind of sexual interaction with them, it is your responsibility to check in, ask, and make sure they are okay with what is going on. If you are not totally sure they want to have sex, don't have sex. Even if you are intoxicated or impaired by alcohol/and or other drugs, you are still responsible for making sure the person wants to participate in any type of sexual activity.

What if everyone has been drinking?

It's okay to have sex when drinking is involved, but all of the rules of consent still apply. If there is any uncertainty about whether someone is incapacitated, don't have sex.

Sexual engagement is a mutual activity that requires active participation from two or more people. Alcohol and other drugs impair your ability to effectively communicate as well as your ability to effectively interpret another person's communication. You are responsible for ensuring consent is clear and unambiguous.

It is always safer to rely on a verbal YES!

If you're not sure, STOP, check in. If it's ambiguous, consent is not present.

 

Note: People have different definitions for words such as "hook up" and "make out." Be sure that you and your partner(s) are clear about what you are ok with.

Last Updated: 6/16/17