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Sex, Drugs & Alcohol

Don't Remember...

Kyle: "Last night was super ragey."
Jamie: "I know, I was seriously messed up."
Kyle: "Yeah you were!"
Jamie: "Ummm... where are my clothes?
Jamie fumbles around looking confused.
Jamie: "Wait, did we have sex?"
Kyle: "Yeah. You don't remember?"
Jamie: "No."

Too drunk...

Ryan and Jordyn stumble to the bed making out and taking each others' clothes off. Ryan pulls away, lays on the bed, eyes closed, and sighs.
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. Let's just call it a night."


Kinda drunk...

Cam and Quinn leave the party and head over to Cam's room. 
Quinn: "Tonight was a lot of fun and I'm kinda drunk..."

Cam: "Too drunk to hook-up?"
Quinn: "No, not that drunk."
Quinn leans in and kisses Cam, closes the door and walks them toward the bed.

Cam: "Good, cause I've been thinking about this since Sophomore Summer!"
Quinn: "Me too!
Cam smiles and pulls off Quinn's shirt.
Quinn reciprocates.
Cam: "Just let me know if you want to slow things down."
Quinn: "Will do and same for you."

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 (or using other drugs)?

Yes, you can give consent if you have been drinking or using other drugs. 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 or other drugs, you cannot give consent. 

Can you get consent from someone who has been drinking (or using other drugs)?

Yes, you can 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 other drugs, they cannot give consent.

If someone has been using alcohol and/or other 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, if you are initiating sexual acts, you are still responsible for making sure the person/people want to participate in any type of sexual activity.

What if both/all of us have been drinking (or using other drugs)?

It's okay to have sex when drinking or using other drugs, but all of the rules of consent still apply and this adds an additional level of trust and responsibility. If there is any uncertainty about whether someone is incapacitated or uncertain, don't have sex.

Things to keep in mind when drinking (or using other drugs) and hooking-up.

  1. Sexual engagement is a mutual activity that requires active and ongoing participation from both or all parties involved. You are responsible for ensuring consent is clear and unambiguous at all times.
  2. Alcohol and other drugs impair your ability to effectively communicate as well as your ability to effectively interpret another person's communication. Communication about sex and relationships when people are sober AND know each other well can be difficult and awkward for some people. Adding alcohol or other drugs to those situations can complicate that communication especially with people who don't know each other very well and/or are uncomfortable talking about sex.
  3. There are a number of factors that can impact the effects that alcohol or other drugs have on someone such as a person's body size, tolerance, the amount and type of alcohol or other drugs consumed, medications already in someone's system, a person's mood, etc. These factors can contribute to someone going from a state of intoxication to incapacitation, and can impact communication, responses, reactions, interpretations of communication, and mood. Again, if you are initiating sexual activity with someone who has been consuming alcohol or other drugs, you are responsible for ensuring there is clear and unambiguous consent at all times.   
  4. It is always safer to rely on a verbal YES and stay attuned to your partner(s) facial expressions and body language to make sure they are in congruence.
  5. If you're not sure, getting mixed messages, or you haven't asked and received a clear yes, STOP and 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 each of you are ok with.