Sexting: A Health Risk?

Alcohol drug use and sexual health may be related to sexting habits

(RxWiki News) Teens and young adults have more access to technology than ever before. Sexting can have legal and social consequences, but could sexting behavior have health consequences too?

A new study found that sexting is linked to more alcohol and drug use and riskier sexual behavior.

“Sexting” is defined as the act of sending sexually explicit or suggestive photographs via text message.

"Always practice safe sex"

Eric Benotsch, PhD, from the Department of Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University partnered with researchers at the University of Colorado Denver in order to survey young adults on their sexting behavior.

An online questionnaire was administered to 763 young adults between the ages of 18-25. The questionnaire asked about texting, sexting, substance use and sexual risk behaviors, along with demographic information.

According to the study, 44 percent of the students reported having engaged in sexting, either in the sending or receiving of a “sext” message.

People who said they had engaged in sexting were much more likely to also report recent use of illegal substances and alcohol.

Of those that have sexted, 31 percent reported having sex for the first time with the person after sexting with them.

People with a history of sexting had higher rates of sexual risk behavior like having multiple partners, having unprotected sex, having sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and also more incidences of sexually transmitted infections.

The researchers said that these results suggest sexting is strongly associated with health-jeopardizing behaviors.


This study was published in August in the Journal of Adolescent Health and was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. No conflicts of interest were stated.

Review Date: 
August 27, 2012