Objectives: We examined relations between early alcohol use and subsequent alcohol and sexual risk behaviors among urban adolescents.
Methods: A total of 1034 African American and Hispanic youths completed surveys assessing alcohol and sexual behaviors at 7th and 10th grade. After we controlled for early sexual initiation, we examined relations between early drinking and subsequent alcohol and sexual behaviors.
Results: Early drinking was associated with alcohol and sexual risks through mid-adolescence. Early drinkers were more likely to report subsequent alcohol problems, unprotected sexual intercourse, multiple partners, being drunk or high during sexual intercourse, and pregnancy. Among females, early drinking was also related to sexual initiation and recent sexual intercourse.
Conclusions: Prevention programs should address combined risks of early alcohol use and sexual intercourse, especially where levels of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections are elevated.