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Tattoos, Piercings, and Alcohol Consumption
April 19, 2012 9:07 PM   Subscribe

According to research recently published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research[DOI: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2011.01711.x], tattooed people drink significantly more than their peers (as well as other risky behaviours).
posted by wilful (63 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm not too sure if I trust this wording. Is it really that if you have tattoos, you'll drink more? Or is it if you drink more, you're more likely to have tattoos.
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:10 PM on April 19, 2012


You don't see many "Mormon 4 Life" tats these days.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 9:13 PM on April 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


The subjects were tested as they left 21 bars in four cities on four different Saturday nights on the Atlantic Coast of Brittany, an area with high alcohol consumption, said the researchers.

Day 5: The study continues apace. Tonight I have noted three madamoiselles, lycée uniforms disheveled, prennent l'eau. They have, my American colleague says, the "stamps of tramps".
posted by phrontist at 9:15 PM on April 19, 2012 [40 favorites]


FirstMateKate, neither the article nor I care to speculate about what the causation is. However, there is unequivocally a correlation.
posted by wilful at 9:17 PM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


This reminds me of the paper suggesting that heavy metal fans who don't want to suffer brain injury from headbanging should listen to more mellow music.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:19 PM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


OK, so there's a correlation. What is anyone supposed to do with this information I very much doubt that there's a causative relationship, and the paper doesn't suggest that there is. So, then, what is interesting about this? Is there any point beyond using science to reinforce conservative social values about the sinfulness of certain subcultures?
posted by Scientist at 9:22 PM on April 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


wilful: "FirstMateKate, neither the article nor I care to speculate about what the causation is."

Why the "obvious" tag, then?

I don't have tattoos, nor do I think most of the tattoos I see were good ideas for lifelong adornment, but I get the feeling this post wasn't made with the kindest intentions.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:23 PM on April 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


The study also gives cause for concern about tattooing as the gateway body mod, with piercings and tattoos then combining to yet greater alcohol consumption. Which, by the time you attach a chainsaw arm, is bad news for all concerned.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 9:25 PM on April 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


I mean, maybe people with tattoos just plain know how to have fun better.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:26 PM on April 19, 2012 [14 favorites]


Among people who drink at bars, tattooed people drink significantly more than their un-tattooed peers. I don't know if that's an important qualifier or not, but it's one that's missing from the headlines.
posted by hades at 9:26 PM on April 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


Why the "obvious" tag, then?

OBVIOUSLY because of the correlation. Which wasn't what FirstMateKate was questioning. Send it to MeTa if you've got a problem
.
posted by wilful at 9:27 PM on April 19, 2012


FirstMateKate, neither the article nor I care to speculate about what the causation is. However, there is unequivocally a correlation.

If by 'unequivocally' you mean 'in a very narrow spectrum with no control and not very much in the way of scientific rigour'. A more appropriate title would be 'for the subset of people who are already out drinking in public at bars, some people with tattoos have higher BACs than those without.' This completely fails to take into account any people with or without tattoos who happen to NOT be drinking at bars, which kind of completely skews the results.
posted by FatherDagon at 9:30 PM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Methods. A 58-question survey, based on the 1997 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Youth Risk Behavior Survey, was offered to all adolescent beneficiaries that came to the Adolescent Clinic. The survey contained standard Youth Risk Behavior Survey questions that inquire about eating behavior, violence, drug abuse, sexual behavior, and suicide. Questions about tattoos and body piercings were added for the purposes of this study.

Pro tip: When an authority figure gives you a questionnaire about your tattoos/piercings/drug habits/where you like to do drugs/whatever, fill the form out as if you were the most tame milquetoast out there. The data will only be used as an excuse to harm people like you.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:30 PM on April 19, 2012 [17 favorites]


Protip: do not drink then get tattooed.
posted by ryoshu at 9:32 PM on April 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


Somebody ought to tell these pub owners, who want to ban people with visible tattoos.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:35 PM on April 19, 2012


I'm guessing you could find a correlation with smoking, riding motorcycles, and pretty much any legal behavior that could be construed to involve slightly less impulse control. I may be biased in my observations from having lived across the street from a tattoo parlor though.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:39 PM on April 19, 2012


What is anyone supposed to do with this information

It's in the 'risky' link:
Tattoos and/or body piercings can alert practitioners to the possibility of other risk-taking behaviors in adolescents, leading to preventive measures, including counseling. Tattoo and body piercing discovery should be an important part of a health maintenance visit to best direct adolescent medical care.
posted by Ritchie at 9:44 PM on April 19, 2012


What if all their tattoos are straight edge?
posted by mrzarquon at 9:45 PM on April 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


Well, based on the survey sample of 'me,' this is 100% accurate.
posted by whitneyarner at 9:47 PM on April 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


Ritchie: "Tattoos and/or body piercings can alert practitioners to the possibility of other risk-taking behaviors in adolescents, leading to preventive measures, including counseling. Tattoo and body piercing discovery should be an important part of a health maintenance visit to best direct adolescent medical care."

For fuck's sake.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:48 PM on April 19, 2012 [10 favorites]


I clicked on this thread solely to watch the tattoo brigade get up in arms about this study.
posted by jayder at 9:49 PM on April 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


Or maybe the tattooed people, experiencing discrimination, are more likely to drown their sorrows?

But this was inevitable, since anyone who follows The Comics Curmudgeon can tell you, Gil Thorp is coming down as solidly anti-tattoo.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:57 PM on April 19, 2012


Got my tattoo after I was sober, so from my sample (admittedly small), I was no more likely to be a drunk with a tattoo, than without. Actually less. Someone call a sociologist!
posted by evilDoug at 10:04 PM on April 19, 2012


"Tattoos and/or body piercings can alert practitioners to the possibility of other risk-taking behaviors in adolescents, leading to preventive measures, including counseling. Tattoo and body piercing discovery should be an important part of a health maintenance visit to best direct adolescent medical care."

That might be true in some contexts, but it doesn't follow from the data in the main article linked to. In fact, the article suggests the opposite. From the text of that paper, here is the statistical test that they ran:

With the mass of alcohol per liter of exhaled breath, a 4 (experimental group) 9 2 (gender) ANOVA was performed and revealed a main effect of groups, F(3, 1,957) = 26.91, p < 0.001, eta-squared_p = .04

Note the partial eta-squared value of .04. At most, 4% of the variability in exhaled alcohol content can be predicted on the basis of whether someone has visible piercings or tattoos. This might be interesting from an academic sociological perspective, but it's useless as a screening measure. Tattoos/piercings are only VERY weakly predictive of alcohol consumption, and so any screening measure constructed on this basis will certainly do more harm than good because it'll just piss people off for no reason.

The sad thing is that just 30 minutes ago I finished giving a lecture on ANOVA and the importance of paying attention to the effect size as well as the p-value. I wish I'd seen it 2 hours ago... would have made a nice in-class example.
posted by mixing at 10:06 PM on April 19, 2012 [12 favorites]


Time for me to get more tattoos!

That's the conclusion I'm drawing here.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:09 PM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ritchie: " Tattoos and/or body piercings can alert practitioners to the possibility of other risk-taking behaviors in adolescents, leading to preventive measures, including counseling. Tattoo and body piercing discovery should be an important part of a health maintenance visit to best direct adolescent medical care. "

Sounds like the quickest way possible to alienate your teenage patients.
posted by lookoutbelow at 10:12 PM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Did they control for whether the tattoos were voluntary or involuntary?

posted by Raven...
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:14 PM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Alrighty then. Another waste of time to file in the "I-Need-A-Grant-So-I-Will-Find-Some-Some-Link-Between-A-Behavior-And-A-Supposed-Social-Deviance-And-Throw-In-A-Smattering-Of-Think-Of-The-Children-Talk-So-It-Surely-Will-Get-Published-And-Talked-About-Which-Will-Get-Me-More-Funding-To-Create-Another-Meaningless-Study" folder.

Next up: "Peanut Butter - The Hidden Dangers And The Links To Why Pedophiles Like Sweet Tea" with a special forward by Chris Hansen.

In other words, if you try hard enough you can find a link between anything. Studies like this scream to me to be more about how to get a grant and less about whether the study has any realy purpose.
posted by lampshade at 10:15 PM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Those people attacking the statistical validity of this study are happy to ignore the host of associated studies pointing in the same direction?
posted by wilful at 10:17 PM on April 19, 2012


Scoff all you like, but when my nephew went out and got his first tattoo when he was 4, I knew no good would come of it.
posted by Ritchie at 10:18 PM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


This isn't surprising, although causation =/ correlation, and I personally know several straight-edge punks with lots of tats - to be fair, the straight edge crowd was always present but still much smaller than the bigger punk scene. When I drank I sought people out who made partying a major priority, and all my craziest drinking buddies had plenty of tats and often other body mods, so there's that, but I know the numbers regarding drinking changed as we've grown older - I don't drink anymore, since I got all of it in at once, and other crazy friends who survived those days have kids, etc. But anyone who has any ink knows that if you show up to a tattoo parlor drunk they will send you home, because nobody wants you bleeding everywhere with your blood thinned out (at least in theory), or maybe worse someone who will have regrets after sobering up.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:21 PM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Protip: try not to let customs officials and border control agents see your tattoos if at all possible.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:24 PM on April 19, 2012


This is one huge load of crap. I feel like I'm reading about a Christian pamphlet that links rock music with teenage delinquency or goths with satan worship. It's hard to believe that this could be any reputable research, but then I suppose it's more like the ever-present drug-scare research in that respect.

And I write this as someone with no tattoos, jayder.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:21 PM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Tattoo and body piercing discovery should be an important part of a health maintenance visit to best direct adolescent medical care.

In other words, "Adolescents: all your fears about creepy, authoritarian mainstream establishment adults have just been fully confirmed."
posted by treepour at 11:21 PM on April 19, 2012 [10 favorites]


Sounds like the quickest way possible to alienate your teenage patients.

And to discount their medical history and not prescribe appropriate medication because anyone with tattoos and piercings must be doctor-shopping, not actually in pain.

See also the "Two Tattoo Rule", where doctors would order STD tests for female patients without informing them, because obviously any woman with two or more tattoos was also promiscuous.

Gah.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:22 PM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Although this is only tangentially related, I'm employed as a clinical assistant to a hair transplant surgeon and I've noticed that a significant proportion of our male patients have tattoos. I guess they're the type who don't shy away from permanently changing their bodies in one way or another.

I'd also guess that tattoos and a full head of hair are some of the ingredients in what they'd consider a masculine identity. Hmm I suppose this does actually relate directly to this post. It's a rough generalisation but it makes vague sense and seems to hold up in my experience.
posted by quosimosaur at 11:43 PM on April 19, 2012


Increased tendency to engage in risky behaviors, you say? OK. Now, I believe the tendency to get tattoos has increased in the last couple of generations - more men and women are getting tattoos. So does that mean that the last couple of generations have increased appetite for risk? And further, since more people are getting tattoos, does it mean drinking is increasing? Fun and games with statistics - let's see how we can twist and turn spurious or random correlations into some kind of meme!
posted by VikingSword at 11:52 PM on April 19, 2012


Oh I should also add that our male patients are more often than not at least moderately tattooed. They're not the kind with just one or two small tattoos on an ankle or the inside of a wrist—the kind my brother, for example, had done on one particularly drunk night out. No, these markings are larger and more prominently situated.

On the flipside, I've never assisted surgery on a heavily tattooed individual. But they are a small minority and I don't have that much experience.
posted by quosimosaur at 12:06 AM on April 20, 2012


Also this took place in Brittany which is not exactly the kind of place everyone sports tattoos. I imagine the results would be quite different if you did this study in, say, San Francisco or London.
posted by fshgrl at 12:33 AM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


So does that mean that the last couple of generations have increased appetite for risk? And further, since more people are getting tattoos, does it mean drinking is increasing? Fun and games with statistics - let's see how we can twist and turn spurious or random correlations into some kind of meme!
Drunken, tattooed hordes engaging in risky behaviours! Tell me, have you been to the UK lately?
posted by Sonny Jim at 12:33 AM on April 20, 2012


They say multiple sexual partners like it's a bad thing.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:20 AM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've always avoided tattoos because of the statistically demonstrable risk of turning into a sailor.
posted by Segundus at 2:35 AM on April 20, 2012 [15 favorites]


Somewhere, the Obvious Alarm has gone off. Smoking has been repeatedly corellated with female promiscuity. Why? Because people who smoke are more open to taking risks with their health. Drinking has been repeatedly corellated with both male and female promiscuity. Why? Same reason.

Is it surprising that some people that willfully inject permanent ink under their skin imbibe alcohol into their bodies as well? Not in the least.

In regards to body piercing, a t-shirt from Venice Beach comes to mind: Body piercing: Wearing the scars from your childhood on your face.

I always assumed that tattoos and body piercing represented freedom for people that aren't free. If you cannot control your external world, you can put an indelible mark on your flesh that says to the world in essence, I am free from your norms. I will make the choices that I can make.
posted by nickrussell at 3:54 AM on April 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Protip: do not drink then get tattooed.



Another protip: Do not drink heavily right after getting tattooed either.


*mumble* years ago, I had just gotten my first tattoo colored. Very, very brightly colored, bold saturated reds and blues, lovely.

Afterward, I wolfed down the requisite Giant Greasy Thing at Hut's (purveyors of the finest of greasy things) and returned home, only to discover a house in despair- a very good friend of ours had died in an awful car wreck.

The assembled were drowning their sorrows in Crown Royal, and I, against my better judgement joined them. We cried and drank and told stories about our friend and cried and drank. Eventually, overcome by grief, booze and the post endorphin crash, I went to my little room and passed out on my white cotton bedspread.

I woke up about four hours later, and discovered that I was GLUED to the bedspread by my own healing wound. Stuck. I very slowly and carefully peeled myself off the bed, fearing, among other things, that I had undone a couple hundred dollars worth of artwork.

There, on the bedspread, was a perfect impression of that little nose playing stomping guy from Hieronymous Bosch's The Hay Wain in bold saturated reds and blues, just lovely.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:56 AM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, yes, I did have a couple of beers tonight, but that had nothing to do with tattoos and much more to do with RESOLUME *&%#@¢! CRASHING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SHOW AND HALF OF MY VIDEOS SUDDENLY NOT PLAYING BECAUSE OF SOME STUPID CODEC DUMBNESS.


Maybe tattoos increase the risk of becoming a VJ.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:04 AM on April 20, 2012


See also: correlation vs. causation.
posted by dave78981 at 4:20 AM on April 20, 2012


Poor research paper + opinionated OC = TROLL!
posted by BadMiker at 5:14 AM on April 20, 2012


The idea that tattoos could lead to perfectly legal behavior is huge letdown.
posted by srboisvert at 5:20 AM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


This entirely non-tatted, tatt-loathing piss artist takes this as a personal challenge. Come on, you ink-stained wretches. BRING IT.
posted by Decani at 5:21 AM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I always assumed that tattoos and body piercing represented freedom for people that aren't free. If you cannot control your external world ..."

Dude. I seriously just always thought they were pretty.
posted by kyrademon at 6:01 AM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Can I ask, in a spirit of genuine inquiry, whether the following is approximately correct?

Some people get tattoos because they wish to exhibit that they are risk takers, or that they have other preferences associated with risk taking (e.g., convention defying). Another group get tattoos because they want to exhibit other traits. Yet another group get tattoos because they want to exhibit nothing in particular at all.

Given that tattooing is often communicative in character, and because it seems plausible that the first group is more prevalent among those with tattoos than in the general population (all things being equal), it's not surprising that people perceive and to some degree find risk-taking behaviors to be higher among tattooed people, nor would it be unjust to reach that conclusion for those in the first group, because that it is in part what they are deliberately trying to communicate.

No matter what correlation can be demonstrated, those in the second and third groups would still object to being stereotyped. And disputes about the strength of the correlation, or any causal surmises, are going to be smokescreens for degrees of insensitivity or sensitivity toward stereotyping and, more particularly, concerns about the use of this information.

Shorter version: this is a reprise of motorcycles, leather jackets, and hippiedom, etc.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 6:52 AM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Living in the Seattle area, having a tattoo signifies bupkis.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:23 AM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well this is certainly some smug bullshit.
posted by liketitanic at 7:42 AM on April 20, 2012


What if all their tattoos are straight edge?

Depends on how long ago they got them. Some of the biggest lushes I know are former sXe.

NEVR SOBR
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:46 AM on April 20, 2012


Journalism and science tend not to mix well. These hacks did a study where they surveyed people outside of bars about their alcohol consumption and then extrapolated to the general population of people with tattoos rather than, you know, taking people from a random sample of tattooed and non-tattooed people controlled for demographics and asking them about alcohol consumption. Then, The Daily Mail runs with the headline about how tattooed people drink more. As others have noted, that's not really what the study said, that's just what will generate page views.
posted by Kimberly at 8:13 AM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Can I ask, in a spirit of genuine inquiry, whether the following is approximately correct?

Well, I suspect some people just like the way they look. Wearable art and all that.

Personally I wouldn't ever want to permanently adorn myself with anything. A lot of things that seemed to be a great idea at 22 are madness at 44.

Plus I always imagine the grandkids couldn't help themselves: Grandpa, what's with the winged unicorn flying out of your ass?
posted by kgasmart at 9:12 AM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Grandpa, what's with the winged unicorn flying out of your ass?

If you're showing your grandkids your ass, you've got other problems ...
posted by Kimberly at 9:15 AM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you're showing your grandkids your ass, you've got other problems ...

To be fair, it was on his shoulder when he got it.
posted by Floydd at 9:33 AM on April 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


I abstain from alcohol as a matter of personal principle and have done so all my life. I have multiple piercings and multiple tattoos. I am not an exception to the rule, at least not in the circle I run in.
posted by OsoMeaty at 3:32 PM on April 20, 2012


Lot of people trying to sound fancy in this thread to cover up for the fact that they're a bunch of drunken tattooed louts, or because they're desperately trying to be better than a bunch of drunken tattooed louts.

Makes for a disappointingly boring read.
posted by emperor.seamus at 4:22 PM on April 20, 2012


I suspect that you're both.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:16 PM on April 20, 2012


I'm a drunken tattooed lout.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:20 AM on April 21, 2012


I abstain from alcohol as a matter of personal principle and have done so all my life. I have multiple piercings and multiple tattoos.
posted by OsoMeaty at 11:32 PM on April 20


I hate you for at least two reasons.
posted by Decani at 6:52 PM on April 28, 2012


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