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My partner is pressuring me to take drugs or get drunk before we have sex. What should I do? What should I say?

Alcohol and drugs do NOT make sex better. Alcohol and other drugs affect the way we’re feeling, but they don’t make sex better. Alcohol can make someone feel less uncomfortable and less inhibited—which can be really bad in a sexual situation. Ask yourself why a partner is pressuring you to take illegal and potentially dangerous drugs, during sex or otherwise. In a healthy relationship, people exhibit respect for each other; this includes not asking a partner to do things that are harmful. This may be a good time to re-examine your relationship and to decide whether it is healthy for you to remain in it.

People become less uncomfortable when they drink because alcohol slows down their brains. Alcohol makes it harder to make a decision about whether you really want to do something sexual. It also lowers inhibitions, which means that it becomes easier (in the moment) to do something you wouldn’t do when you’re sober. You still have to deal with the decision you made when you get sober, and that’s a hard situation for lots of teens who’ve done things when they’re drunk. The same is true for drugs, since they make you feel differently and can help you to make different decisions than you would when you’re not on them.

Alcohol and other drugs can also make it difficult to remember how to use a condom or make it seem like it’s no big deal to have sex with someone who’s sexual history you don’t know. In general, alcohol and other drugs make things seem less risky and easier to do.

Binge drinking, defined as having five or more drinks in one sitting, can cause a “blackout,” which means you won’t remember anything that happened, even if you seemed like you knew what you were doing at the time. There are people who’ve had whole sexual interactions with someone only to forget and later find out from someone else that it happened. Imagine how that might feel. Not to mention, legally, no one, male or female, young or old, in a committed relationship or a one-time hookup, can consent to sex while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

Tell your partner you don’t want to take the chance of hurting yourself or getting in trouble. If the relationship is healthy, your partner will respect your decision and not push the issue. If not, you may want to evaluate if the relationship is good for you.

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