Chapter 3 - Situations Subchapter: Consent, alcohol & drugs

Mixing consent, alcohol and drugs

Understanding how alcohol and drugs influence your perception of reality is critical when it comes to sex and obtaining and giving consent.

The importance of being certain

Alcohol acts as a depressant on our central nervous system. It slows everything down and impacts reaction times, balance, ability to read social cues and make considered and rational judgements.

You should never drink and drive when under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You put yourself and others at risk of serious harm.

You shouldn’t have sex if alcohol or drugs have affected your ability to be certain that the sex is consensual.

 

One character with a smirk on their face shepparding an intoxiated character along.

 

Consent involves a shared decision – one person asks for something, or asks to do something, and the other person responds with yes, no, or I don’t know.

The free agreement law states that each person must freely consent to sex. To freely consent or agree, each person must be 100% comfortable with the situation and know exactly what it is they are agreeing to.

 

Stop Ask Listen

If you want something from another person, you need to STOP and ASK the other person in a way they can clearly understand what it is you’re asking.

Then LISTEN as they communicate if they are a YES, NO or I DON’T KNOW.

 

One character with question mark above their head, looking at an intoxiated character – the words Stop Ask Listen appear above them.

Want to make-out?
Get some take-out? Yes totally!

 

CAN WE MAKE-OUT?

The Field Model diaram – one character is on Yes, one character is on No, and then they both move to the End Zone.

 

One person wants to make-out with the other person (YES), but the other person is drunk and not sure what’s being asked of them, so it’s a NO.

Someone who is drunk or wasted is unable to freely consent to sex. The influence of alcohol on their body means they can’t know exactly what it is they are agreeing to.

If one person is a NO then both persons are in the End Zone. There is no free agreement and no consent.

 

What if all people involved have been drinking?

If everyone is drunk, then it’s really hard to be certain that consent has been gained and given.

Being drunk is no excuse for not being certain, so where does responsibility lie?

Responsibility lies with the person initiating sex or trying to introduce a new sex act.

 

Check in with your partner:

  • Do you still want to do this?
  • Is this okay?
  • Do you need a break?
  • Are you enjoying this?

 

To make certain you’ve gained consent, go back to Stop Ask Listen.

 

 Two intoxicated characters look at each other – the words Stop Ask Listen appear above them.

 

If the initiator is too drunk to check in with their partner, then there is no attempt at consent and there is no consent.

 

NO when sober then YES when drunk

At any time, a person can choose to exercise their free will and change their mind about something.

But if a person has said NO to sex when they’re sober and then said YES when drunk, that’s a big red flag.

There is no consent unless there is free agreement and the person knows exactly what they are saying YES to.

 

Is sex always non-consensual when people have been drinking?

No, not always.

But if someone is affected by alcohol or drugs it does make it harder to be certain:

  • You need to be certain about what you are consenting to.
  • You need to be certain that you have obtained consent.

 

And not just for legal reasons, but because it’s the right thing to do.

Being certain that consent has been given and gained is recognising that people sometimes drink too much, and rather than taking advantage of a person when they’re compromised, they deserve care and support.

Next time it might be you.

 

Determining a person’s ability to consent

Ask yourself,

  • Can they communicate coherently and clearly?
  • Are they sober enough to fully comprehend what’s going on?
  • Do they have control of their own body?

If the answer to any of those questions is not yes, the person cannot legally consent.