Health & Safety

August 1, 2014

Alcohol use and consent explained

NTC SHARP Program

What is consent?

The Uniformed Code of Military Justice defines consent as words or overt acts indicating a freely given agreement to the sexual conduct at issue by a competent person. The Manual for Courts Martial, Article 120 clearly states that a person may be incapable of giving consent if they are mentally impaired or unconsciousness resulting from consumption of alcohol, drugs or a similar substance.

How does alcohol affect a person’s ability to give legal consent?

While many sexual assaults occur without the involvement of alcohol, alcohol adversely affects decision-making and impulse control. Alcohol degrades a person’s ability to identify and counter threats in the environment, which may impair the response of those bystanders that could assist an intended victim or deter a potential offender. Alcohol may also be used by the alleged offender as a weapon to reduce a victim’s resistance or fully incapacitate a victim. Additionally, the main portion of the brain affected by alcohol is the cerebral cortex, which is where mental functions such as thought processes, vision, hearing and judgment take place.

Judgment is the ability to think things through before taking action or making a decision. The reality is that a person, who is intoxicated – even slightly – lacks the judgment necessary to consent to sexual activity.

The solution is simple.

Soldiers do not hesitate to take their battle buddy’ts keys to keep them from driving after a few drinks or allow a friend get a dolphin tattoo on a drunken whim; so, why would you stand by and watch as your intoxicated friend goes into an empty room with another person?

Respect yourself and respect your partner. Do not have sex with someone who is drunk. Wait until you are both sober. If it is not worth doing sober, then it is not worth doing.




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