For many gay and bisexual and all men who have sex with men, drinking and the venues that serve alcohol, can be a big part of our culture.

Heading out for a drink offers the possibility to socialise, meet up with friends and potentially hook up with new guys for sex. Alcohol lowers our inhibitions, making us feel more relaxed, which can contribute to a fun night out.

Of course, sometimes it can go too far – it can affect our judgement and lead us to making bad choices.

We’re not going to tell you not to drink – we’re just asking you to be responsible. There’s plenty of information out there about the importance of controlling how much you drink to maintain your health. If you find alcohol is becoming a problem then speak to your GP, check out Drink Aware, or contact us for a chat.

Here are some things for you to think about if you are heading out for a drink and hoping the night will lead to sex.

Eat first: Having something in your stomach slows down the effects of alcohol and makes it more likely you will last the pace.

Be prepared: If you’re looking for sex, remember to take condoms and lube with you, or pick some up when you are out. If you are taking event based PrEP remember to take it before you head out or ideally, the day before. If you have to travel into the city, think about how you’ll get home and keep some cash back for a cab.

Guidance: The current recommended weekly amount of alcohol that a man, or woman, should not exceed is 14 units. This amount should not be consumed in on sitting, but 3 to 4 units maximum in any one day. As an average, 14 units of alcohol can be described as:

  • 6 pints of regular strength lager
  • 10 bottles of alcopop
  • 7 glasses of 175ml wine (or 4.5 glasses of 250ml wine)
  • 14 single measures of spirits
  • 5 glasses of wine

Know your limits: It’s not a race, don’t try to keep up with your pals or feel pressured into taking drinks you don’t want to, like shots. Go at your own speed and take a break if you need one. If you end up hammered, the chances of you pulling go down the drain.

Drink lots of water: Drinking alcohol dehydrates you. Try alternating an alcoholic drink with a soft drink (or alcohol free drink) to reduce your intake. Drinking water can keep you refreshed and will reduce the hangover the next day. You could also consider starting off the evening at an alcohol free space having a coffee of soft drink before heading to the pub.

Keep an eye on your drink: Don’t leave drinks unattended and keep an eye out for people trying to spike drinks with drugs.

If you’re taking drugs (prescription or recreational): Know their effects when mixed with alcohol. If you’re on HIV medication, be aware of the effects of mixing alcohol and your meds. Try taking your medication at least an hour before going out so that you don’t mix the two.

Let’s talk about sex: Lots of guys have sex after drinking. You might find it easier talking to guys after a couple of drinks. This is because alcohol lowers our inhibitions but it can also lead to bad choices, which can affect your sexual health. If you’re drunk in the heat of the moment, you’re less likely to reach for a condom. These are the decisions we regret in the morning when we’ve sobered up.

The morning after: If you’re hungover, make sure you drink plenty of water. Coffee might sound like a good idea but it will leave you dehydrated. Take some paracetamol or ibuprofen for your head and try to eat something as soon as you can.

The hangover horn: Yes, this is a thing, though we’re not sure why. Guys who are hungover often feel really horny and end up having sex with someone they’ve taken home. Sometimes they might turn to apps to find sex. The only bit of advice here is, if you’re horny and want sex make sure it’s the sex you want and that you’ve got condoms and lube to hand. Or just have a wank.

In the short-term, alcohol use can lead to problems like alcohol poisoning. Long-term, it can lead to liver damage, brain damage, heart disease, stomach cancer and lots of other serious health issues. Excessive alcohol use can also affect your emotional and mental health, and may have a negative impact on your relationships. Remember, if you find alcohol is becoming a problem then speak to your GP or check out Drink Aware 

If you are concerned about the amount of alcohol you may be consuming, why not check out our Risk Tool [Currently under development]

If you are thinking of trying to reduce your alcohol intake, or stop drinking altogether, you could consider joining a group of like-minded people that take part in alcohol-free activities. A place to start is the Meet Up website where LGBT friendly groups are listed, such as:

We Love Lucid

Edinburgh Alcohol Free Meet Up Group

If you have a professional interest in alcohol and work in the commercial sector, a health or research organisation, or dependency support group, please check out our alcohol e-learning tool. This tool comprises of three structured learning areas: sexual health; stigma and harm. On completion of each section, a certificate is forward to you, or your organisation, which can be displayed to demonstrate that you has achieved a significant understanding of alcohol in relation to gay and bisexual men and the issues they face with alcohol.