One of the public health issues that has emerged as a “serious” concern within the United States is the nonmedical use of prescription opioids, or POs. At the same time, the number of cases of sexual violence is on the rise, too. 

In the past, only a few studies have been conducted that link sexual violence with the use of drugs. Although the two concerns are unrelated, the principal investigator has tied the upsurge in the nonmedical use of POs among young adults with an increase in the cases of sexual violence.

During the study, the researchers looked at cases of sexual violence and how they relate to drug use. The intent of the researchers was to assess the role of drug use in the risk of sexual violence among young adults residing in the New York City. In addition, the researchers wanted to note the social and contextual factors that affect the sexual violence experience among the young adults.

“Many participants described negative sexual perceptions ascribed to opioid users and their own internalized stigma. They also reported exchanges of sex for drugs or money that increased their risk of sexual violence. We found that the drug-using context facilitated victimization of users who were unconscious or semi-conscious as a result of using drugs,” explained Pedro Mateu-Gelabert, a principal investigator in the study said.

The study's conclusion was based on the analysis of the assessment that asked subjects about drug use and sexual behavior. The analysis of the assessment submitted by a total of 164 participants ages 18 to 29 showed that nearly 4 percent of the females and 11 percent of the males were “forced to have sex without their consent while doing drugs.”

The use of POs has increased, particularly among young adults, with 11 percent of them self-reporting that they use drugs. It is estimated that the number of people that die because of PO drug overdose each year is higher than the combined number of people that die as a result of cocaine and heroine overdose.