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Alcoholism & Addiction

Body Art Associated With Risky Behavior

Among young people, getting a tattoo or a body piercing may have become a sort of rite of passage as they age into adulthood. The general public, and especially those in older adulthood, may assume that young people covered in tattoos and piercings are "up to no good." Until recently, though, it’s been impossible to determine whether body art is associated with negative behaviors.

A recent study conducted through the Université de Bretagne-Sud in France shows that there may be a connection between risky behavior and tattoos and piercings. The study’s findings are published in a recent issue off the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

The study is the first of its kind to be conducted in France and shows a connection between alcohol consumption and tattoos and piercings. The research found that body piercings and tattoos and are associated with more alcohol per liter of exhaled breath.

Corresponding author of the study, Nicolas Guéguen, is a professor of social behavior. He explained that many earlier studies have shown that those with body art are more liable to engage in risky behaviors than those without body art. Examples of such risky behaviors are fighting, theft, unprotected sex and excessive alcohol consumption.

The researchers conducted tests on four separate Saturday nights, a popular night for visiting clubs and bars among youth in France. The researchers collected breath samples from a total of 2,970 individuals, with the sample comprised of 1,710 males and 1,260 females.

The breathalyzer was utilized as the young people were exiting the club or bar and each individual was asked if they had tattoos or piercings. With the breathalyzer, the researchers were able to assess the amount of alcohol consumed among both those with body art and those without.

Experts in the field say that it may be necessary to remember that those who are in the age group that was examined are generally more likely to engage in risky behavior than those in other age groups. The association may have much to do with age, they say.

The researchers found that those exiting bars who had tattoos or piercings had consumed more alcohol than those without body art. This is the first time that the association between alcohol consumption and tattoos and piercings had been made in France.

The authors of the study say that physicians, educators and parents should consider tattoos and piercings as potential indicators that drinking is part of an individual’s choices. This might be helpful in beginning an open dialogue about alcohol consumption as well as other potentially risky behaviors.

While the research is helpful for identifying a potential sign of alcohol consumption, it is necessary to use caution to prevent tattoos and piercing from being used as a profiling or stereotyping tool.

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