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Dear Dr. P


Dear Dr. P, why is it that hormones start flowing as soon as the booze does? Alcohol makes people relax and dance better, it’s true, but why do people have more propensity to have sex under the influence?


Dorothy Parker, a poet and wit said “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker,” when referring to the un-inhibiting effects of alcohol on women.  Men have traditionally asked “May I buy you a drink?” in their never-ending quest to loosen the inhibitions of persons that have become targeted as mating possibilities.  A response of “Yes, I’ll have a plain coke (or virgin strawberry daiquiri),” is likely to disappoint the intentions of the offer.

On the other hand, Shakespeare supposedly said “Wine increaseth the desire but diminisheth the performance.”  This means that a fall-down drunken fellow cannot rise to the occasion.  This has been known for thousands of years.

Whereas a very intoxicated male cannot have or maintain an erection, a very intoxicated female does not have to have the same genital vasocongestion to engage in sexual intercourse.  In this circumstance she may then become a passive recipient of the attentions of a male who thought both were engaging in a consensual sexual activity.

There have been numerous cases of charges brought against male students by coeds of “date-rape” a day or so after the fact.  The males charged are often incredulous and don’t understand that what they thought was consensual sex was actually sex wherein both or one (the woman) of them was acting with “diminished capacity.”

After sobering-up and considering what has happened, the woman makes the charges because in her sober mind she had not intended what had happened to have happened.  Under the effects of alcohol her judgment was impaired. This situation is sometimes referred to as one of “rescinded consent.”

On our campus, it is the male’s responsibility therefore to ensure that consent is obtained from a partner whose judgment is not impaired or clouded by alcohol or other drugs.

Ethyl alcohol’s effects on the human cognitive, affective (emotional) and motor system is well documented. Alcohol shuts down the activity of the brain cortex and as such begins to deaden or remove your conscious control over both your motor system (you become uncoordinated) and your mental judgment and inhibitions.  You would do things which you ordinarily would not do—usually to your later embarrassment, regret or sorrow—and you can not do things that you could do when you were sober.

Nevertheless, alcohol has traditionally been used as a “sexual lubricant”—to varying effect—many times dismal.  Remember guys, a partner’s diminished capacity to provide consent due to alcohol or drugs sets you up for valid charges of rape or sexual assault.

Sometimes alcohol is used deliberately to allow someone to engage in behaviors that ordinarily one would not allow themselves to do.

You may drink yourself into a stupor so that you really aren’t that aware of the stimulus value of the situation or the person you are with (as in: “O.K., doc, you can take out the bullet now,” or “He or she ain’t that bad.”).

Alcohol blurs your vision and your judgment. It is insulting to both partners when they realize upon awakening that except for the alcohol they would not have done what they had done. (Remember Brittany Spears and her one-day Las Vegas marriage?)

The impaired judgment also increases the health risks of sex because considerations of contraception and precautions against sexually transmitted infections are usually erased by the intoxication.

Just as DUI now gets you heavily fined and sometime jail time, maybe SUI (sex under the influence) should also be a cause of social sanction when the outcome is unfortunate.


Intoxicatingly yours,


Dr. P