RESEARCH ARTICLE


The Intersection between Alcohol use and Sexual Activity among Young Adult Male U.S. Service Members



Lindsay M. Orchowski1, *, Bryce M Meerhaeghe2, Amber R. Lane3, Donna M. Kazemi4, Brian Borsari5, Cristóbal S. Berry-Cabán6
1 Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior Alpert Medical School of Brown University Staff Psychologist, Rhode Island Hospital, United States
2 Department of Clinical Investigation, Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg, NC, United States
3 Department of Clinical Investigation, Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Liberty, NC, United States
4 College of Nursing, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, United States
5 San Francisco VA Health Care System, San Francisco, CA. and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, University of California, San Francisco, CA, United States
6 Department of Clinical Investigation, Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg, NC, United States


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Creative Commons License
© 2023 Orchowski et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode. This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior Alpert Medical School of Brown University Staff Psychologist, Rhode Island Hospital, United States; E-mail: lindsay_orchowski@brown.edu


Abstract

Aims:

The current study explores drinking habits, preferences for alcohol use before sexual activity, and alcohol-related sexual behavior among young adult male active duty service members in the United States.

Background:

Hazardous alcohol use is a significant problem among United States military service members. Whereas the association between alcohol use and sexual assault is well documented in civilian samples, less is known regarding the intersection of alcohol use and sexual activity among soldiers.

Objective:

Descriptive statistics were utilized to summarize drinking habits, preferences for alcohol use before sexual activity, and alcohol-related sexual behavior.

Methods:

A sample of 338 active-duty male service members between the ages of 18 and 24 were recruited from a large military post in the Southeastern United States. Constructs were assessed using self-report surveys.

Results:

Participants reported consuming alcohol, on average, 5.6 times over the prior month. Average alcohol consumption was reported to be 7.8 beverages per drinking occasion. Participants reported engaging in heavy drinking an average of 2.9 times over the past 30 days. On average, service members reported a preference for 1.3 drinks before sexual activity. Furthermore, 75.2% of participants preferred to be sober during sex, and 82.1% preferred to engage in sexual activity with a sober partner. Approximately 14% of the sample reported using alcohol to improve their chances of having sex.

Conclusion:

These findings highlight high rates of alcohol use among soldiers. Nonetheless, young adult male soldiers report a preference for sexual activity while sober. Understanding the co-occurrence of alcohol use and sexual activity has the potential to inform the development of integrated alcohol and sexual assault prevention programs for service members.

Keywords: Alcohol, Sexual activity, Male soldiers, Military, MOS, Sexual coercion.