Is there a link between alcohol and drugs and sexual assault?

Yes. Research shows that up to three out of four attackers had been drinking alcohol when they sexually assaulted someone.8

Research also shows that about half of sexual assault victims had been drinking.8 However, this does not mean that drinking causes sexual assault or that the violence is the victim’s fault. Many attackers use alcohol as a way to make you drunk and unable to consent, understand what is happening, or remember the assault. They may take advantage of a victim who has already been drinking or encourage her to drink more than she might normally drink. If someone sexually assaulted you while you were drunk or passed out, they have committed a crime, no matter how much you had to drink or how old you are.

Some attackers also use drugs called date rape drugs. These drugs are put into drinks — even nonalcoholic drinks — or food without the victim’s knowledge. The drugs can cause memory loss, so victims may not know what happened. Some attackers also use other drugs, such as ecstasy, marijuana, or prescription pills. They may give drugs to someone who takes them willingly or may drug someone without her knowledge.

Someone who is drunk, drugged, or high on drugs cannot give consent. Without consent, any sexual activity is sexual assault.