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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Alcohol Abuse and STIs are Linked

"Honestly, I would feel more comfortable talking to my dean than to a doctor,” said Emma McBurney ’12. “And I mean, everyone in college is an alcoholic."

Drugs and alcohol generally go hand in hand with risky behavior that can end up being costly. It is hard to make sound judgment calls when your inhibitions are down and a new study completed by the Yale School of Medicine agrees that drugs, alcohol, and sex are linked together. The study done by Yale analyzed data collected in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The survey investigated the substance use habits of over 50,000 Americans which lead researchers and public health professionals to say in the November 2010 edition of the American Journal on Addictions, that they will have better questions for STI patients that may stop substance abuse in the future.

"The results of the study add to the growing movement to screen for substance use in primary care,” Jeanette Tetrault, assistant professor at the Yale School of Medicine, said. “Often, we wait for substance use to become severe before intervening."

The study found:
  • 2.5 percent of drinkers
  • 2.4 percent of binge drinkers
  • 3.2 percent of heavy alcohol users were diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease in the past year

Only 1.4 percent for nondrinkers contracted STIs in the past year, clearly showing that there is a definite link between STIs and drinking. Young adults tend towards risky behavior more frequently and until now doctors did not think to ask their patients who have STIs about substance abuse. "Adolescents come in with STIs, and we can diagnose and treat them, but we miss a key opportunity to ask them about their substance use problem,” Tetrault said. “I just hope people will feel comfortable and willing to talk to their doctors [about their substance use habits]."

Yale Daily News

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