Tattoos and body piercings are seen as a common trend in the Western world, but a new study in France found that those with body art tended to drink more than their peers. According to US News and World Report, researchers asked asked nearly 3,000 French youth to take a breathalyzer as they left bars and other drinking establishments. The readings showed that those with tattoos and body piercings had consumed more alcohol than those without body adornment.
Nicolas Gueguen, one author of the study, said, "A host of previous studies have routinely shown that individuals with body piercings or tattoos are more likely to engage in risky behavior than non-pierced or non-tattooed people." These risky behaviors included unprotected sex, fighting, theft, and drinking. Gueguen suggests that educators, parents, and doctors should consider tattoos and piercings as potential signs of drinking and use them to begin a conversation about drinking, or other high-risk behaviors.
Myrna Armstrong, a nursing professor, argues that people have piercings and tattoos for a variety of reasons, including religious belief. Armstrong is concerned about "the tendency to see a tattoo or piercing and automatically profile or stereotype that individual as a 'high-risk person,' which may not be conducive to helping them." I also think that this study does not fairly represent the tattooed and pierced population as a whole because they only sampled people leaving a bar, and this scenario would not take into account the people that have tattoos and piercings that do not drink at all.
Armstrong conducted a study in 2009 that suggested there is a difference between having a few tattoos and piercings and having many of them. She said, "We found that those with only one tattoo were very similar to those with no tattoos, in terms of high-risk behaviors, including alcohol. We also graded body piercings and found that individuals with seven or more were in an especially high-risk group."