Purpose: To examine the associations among early age of onset of sexual intercourse and drug use, lifetime and current problem drug behaviors, and sexual risk behaviors.
Methods: The 1993 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey was administered to a sample of 3,054 students from randomly selected high schools and classrooms; 36% (1,078) consistently reported having had sexual intercourse. Three indicators of sexual risk behaviors were assessed: (1) number of lifetime sexual partners, (2) number of recent partners, and (3) condom nonuse at last intercourse. Three sets of independent variables were analyzed: (1) age of onset of sexual intercourse and drug use, (2) lifetime drug use, and (3) recent drug use.
Results: Years of sexual intercourse, early age of onset of marijuana and cocaine use, lifetime frequency of marijuana, crack/freebase cocaine and alcohol use, and black race accounted for moderate amounts of the variation in the number of lifetime sexual partners. Years of sexual intercourse, early age of onset of marijuana use and cocaine use, lifetime frequency of crack/freebase and marijuana use, and recent use of cocaine, alcohol, and cigarettes accounted for smaller but significant amounts of the variation in the number of recent partners. Students more likely to report recent condom nonuse were older, females, had more years of sexual intercourse, had tried cocaine at a younger age, had used marijuana and cocaine more times (lifetime), and had more frequent recent use of marijuana.
Conclusion: Increased frequency and severity of drug use behaviors and more years of sexual intercourse are associated with an increased number of sexual partners and recent condom nonuse. These findings may guide history-taking and referral practices of health care providers. Programs designed to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy should address drug use as well as sexual behavior.