Sex and Drugs in America: New Details

CDC Tracks Sexual Behavior and Use of Cocaine and Other Street Drugs in U.S. Adults

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on June 22, 2007
From the WebMD Archives

June 22, 2007 -- The CDC today released its latest facts and figures on sex and drug use in the U.S.

The report shows that only 4% of adults over 20 have never had sex, and more than 20% of adults aged 20-59 have ever tried cocaine or other street drugs.

Data came from more than 6,200 civilians aged 20-59 who took part in government health surveys conducted nationwide from 1999 to 2002.

Using an anonymous computerized system, participants answered questions about their sex lives and drug use.

The resulting report, "Drug Use and Sexual Behaviors Reported by Adults, United States, 1999-2002," is posted on the CDC's web site.

Sex Statistics

About 96% of participants reported ever having vaginal, oral, or anal sex.

Those in their 20s were the least likely to have had sex, with 9% of adults in that age range saying they had never had sex.

Of all racial and ethnic groups, Mexican-Americans had the lowest percentage -- 88% -- of adults who reported ever having sex.

According to the report, most adults -- 41% -- said they had sex for the first time when they were 15-17 years old. Fifteen percent said they first had sex before age 15.

Younger adults were more likely to say they first had sex before age 15, compared with older generations.

Number of Sex Partners

Participants were also asked how many sex partners of the opposite sex they had ever had.

Men typically reported having seven female sexual partners in their lifetime. About 16% of men said they had one or fewer female sexual partners, 34% reported having had two to six female sexual partners, 20% said they'd had seven to 14 female sexual partners, and nearly 30% said they'd had 15 or more female sexual partners.

Women reported having four male sex partners in their lifetime. One in four women reported having one or fewer male sexual partners, 44% reported having two to six male sexual partners, 21% said they'd had seven to 14 male sexual partners, and 9% said they'd had at least 15 male sex partners.

The men's sex and women's sex statistics also show that about 17% of men said they'd had at least two sexual partners in the last year, compared with 10% of women.

The data don't include participants' number of same-sex partners.

Cocaine, Street Drug Use

The report tracked use of cocaine (including crack or freebase) and other illicit drugs not including marijuana.

Overall, 21% of participants said they had ever tried cocaine or other street drugs, and about 5% said they had done so in the past year.

The oldest participants -- those in their 50s -- were the least likely to report having used cocaine or other street drugs in the past year or at any time in their lives.

About 12% of adults in their 50s said they had ever tried cocaine or street drugs, compared with nearly 32% of people in their 40s, 32% of those in their 30s, and 24% of those in their 20s.

Show Sources

SOURCES: CDC: "Drug Use and Sexual Behaviors Reported by Adults, United States, 1999-2002." News release, CDC.

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