Higher drug abuse among gay youth likely tied to rejection

For a lesbian, gay, or bisexual youth, “coming out” is an extremely stressful, though important event that can result in improved self-esteem, social-support, and psychological adjustment.

However, a recent study found that the reactions to such a disclosure have a lot to do with the risk of those youths abusing alcohol and drugs.

Social rejection and drug abuse among gay youth

The results revealed that the more rejecting reactions a youth receives, the more likely they are to engage in drug abuse including alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use. This was true even after researchers controlled for a number of other important variables like emotional distress and demographics (race, ethnicity, education, socioeconomic status, etc.).

This makes a lot of sense. After finally deciding to go through with such a monumental disclosure, harsh rejections likely cause some serious damage to a youth’s self-esteem, making escape by drugs an attractive option. Although coming out can eventually lead to increased self-esteem even for this youth, the road there is not an easy one.

The good news was that accepting reactions seemed to protect youths from the harmful effects of being rejected – Social support helps!

The researchers suggested that drug abuse prevention attempts with LGBT youths address the impact of rejecting reactions to sexual-orientation disclosure directly in order to hopefully reduce their negative impact.

Here’s a video about the difficulties of coming out in high-school:


Rosario, Schrimshaw, & Hunter (2009). Disclosure of sexual orientation and subsequent substance use and abuse among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths: Critical role of disclosure reactions. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 23, 175-184.

Alcohol, sleep, and school work: College drinking and GPA

Co-authored by: Jamie Felzer

We all know that college students often party and sleep more than they actually study.  But do heavy alcohol use and poor sleep patterns cause poor grades?

A recently published study found that just altering bed times by 2 hours can throw off your sleepiness during the day.  Most students in the study did show a 2-4 hour difference in daily bed times between weekdays and the weekend, and most went to bed after midnight.

The average number of drinks for participants came in around 6 drinks a night (equal for men and women).

The big question is: can these heavy drinkers in college still perform well academically? (See here for influential factors in college drinking)

No matter what the cause, insufficient sleep causes poor academic consequences.  Interestingly, those students who reported much more sleep also had lower GPAs (oversleep was mostly assumed, by the researchers, to be caused by drinking and staying up too late, though it could have been due to other issues such as depression).

Overall, those that drank more often went to sleep later and also had bigger gaps between weekday and weekend bedtimes, all of which correlated very highly with a lower GPA.


Singleton, Wolfson (2009). Alcohol Consumption, Sleep And Academic Performance Among College Students. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. 70, 355-363)

College drinking and frats – A match made in alcohol heaven?

contributing author: Gacia Tachejian

animal-houseIf you asked college students in America what goes on at a Fraternity or Sorority party they would tell you that drinking alcohol is a major component. The movie Animal House made heavy college drinking a well known fact decades ago, and research backs it up.

Studies have consistently shown that the highest rates of heavy alcohol use and alcohol disorders occur in the college-age population. But who’s to blame? Although heavy alcohol use has been documented within Greek organizations, the question of whether the Greek environment fosters substance use or whether heavy substance users chose to be in Greek environments has not been researched until now.

In order to find out whether the Frats/Sororities were the main influence for heavy alcohol use or if individuals joining the Greek organizations were simply heavier alcohol abusers researchers recently collected data from 3,720 pre-college students who were then followed for the 4 years of college they enrolled in (talk about a lot of work).

Of the almost 4000 participants there were students who joined the Greek environment and those who didn’t. Also, there were students who were late joiners and students who joined but withdrew before they graduated. After looking at all the different categories, one thing was apparent:

Students, who at any given period were part of a fraternity or a sorority, drank more alcohol and had more negative, alcohol-related consequences while being a member of a Greek organization. Also, once they deactivated, those participants drank less and had less drinking-related consequences.

The real issue as to why this is so important has to do with the consequences of alcohol use. Problems like drinking and driving (and possible DUI arrests), alcohol abuse, alcohol poisoning, and violence are a serious problem among college students. Apparently, Greek Environments make these consequences more likely.

It’s important to note: If the only finding her was that participants in the Greek system drank more alcohol or were more likely to drink alcohol at all that would be one thing (this findings was also true here by the way), but the fact that they were also more likely to have negative consequences associated with their drinking suggests that interventions might be useful within this college-environment.

Something to think about next time you’re bored on a Thursday night…


Park, Aesoon, Sher, J., Kenneth, S., & Krull, L., Jennifer (2008) Risky Drinking in College Changes as Fraternity/Sorority Affiliation Changes: A Person – Environment Perspective. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, Vol. 22, No. 2, 219-229.

How much alcohol is too much drinking? Knowing your BAC can be key!

There has been some research suggesting that training people to better estimate their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), can help reduce accidents and improve risk-taking while drinking among college students (see here and here respectively).

I’m including a recent piece from one of our readers, telling us about her first over-21 drinking experience in Las-Vegas. I think this story exemplifies that young adults may often consume more alcohol than they are aware of while underestimating its effects Continue reading “How much alcohol is too much drinking? Knowing your BAC can be key!”

Is abstinence the only option? Moderate alcohol drinking is possible and there’s help

I can’t even think of how many times I’ve heard the notion that complete, total, abstinence should be the only goal for all people who abuse drug or alcohol. This idea is so pervasive that most addiction treatment providers actually expel clients for relapsing, a notion that makes no sense to me especially if you believe in the idea that addiction is a chronic disease. In fact, even most research institutions and well-informed providers use total abstinence as the marker for addiction treatment success. The thing is that the amount of alcohol or drug use per se is not a part of the definition of addiction or abuse (other than in the “using more than intended” factor but even there an absolute amount isn’t introduced) and I don’t think it should be a necessary part of the solution either.

When I first set about writing this article, many of the issues I was going to bring up had to do with research on alcohol relapse patterns, my own story, and other evidence I’ve already introduced on All About Addiction. Fortunately for us, some recent research about Moderation Management and a newly developed website application component introduced me to some new evidence regarding moderate alcohol drinking that will allow us to look even more deeply into the problem. Continue reading “Is abstinence the only option? Moderate alcohol drinking is possible and there’s help”

Does alcohol on T.V. make for more alcohol in the hand?

Dirk Hanson

The title of the Dutch study, published in the journal Alcohol & Alcoholism, is unambiguous: “Alcohol Portrayal on Television Affects Actual Drinking Behaviour.”

It is an easy and familiar accusation that has been levied at violent video games, drug use heavy movies, and alcohol advertising. But what is the actual evidence for it? Leave it to a group of Dutch scientists to design a practical experiment to test the proposition when it comes to drinking.  In a noble attempt to get around the self-reporting problem, the authors of the study went directly to the heart of the problem. They built a “bar laboratory” on the campus of Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Continue reading “Does alcohol on T.V. make for more alcohol in the hand?”

Five tricks bars use to keep you drinking their alcohol

Christopher Russell

With alcoholic drink sales in the UK estimated at around £37 billion ($58.6 billion) each year, bars, clubs, and drinks companies need to fight hard, think ahead, and sometimes get down and dirty with the competition to win their piece of this lucrative pie. BBC Newsbeat reporter, Jim Reed, asked industry insiders about the top five tricks bars use to keep their customers drinking alcohol for longer and buying the drinks they want to sell. Here is what they said.

(1)   The ‘three second’ rule

“Most punters just focus on the products right in front of them”, said one former bar manager. Three seconds is the amount of time the customer has to make a decision after staff ask for his order. The key to his choice is visibility; the drinks which are easiest to see behind the bar are more likely to be chosen. As a result, drinks companies strike deals with bars to ensure their drinks get ‘profitable placement’ behind the bar. This isn’t all that different from the famous “sugary cereal placement” issue common in American Supermarkets and includes alcopops being placed on the top shelf of the fridges, draft beers with oversized, illuminated pumps, and a row of spirit optics hanging right behind the bar. The latest eye-catching marketing gimmick – the “extra cold” beer pump covered in condensation – will be in your bar soon.

(2)   Turn up the volume and heating and pack people in

People drink more alcohol when the music is louder and the room is hotter. Results from a recent field study of the effect of music volume and beer consumption showed that louder music led to an increase in beer consumption and a decrease in time customers took to drink their glass. Clubs want people on the dance floor, but not all night. Some DJs told the reporter that they are often asked to drop in a couple of dodgy tunes to push people towards the bar, known as ‘persuaded drink breaks’. Some bar staff also said that they are told to turn up the heating, even in summer, to get people to drink faster and head back up for more. Door staff are also encouraged to fill the club to capacity and sometimes, over capacity. A packed club means long queues at the bar, and so people tend to buy more than they actually want in one visit to avoid having to wait later on. Having bought two to three rounds worth of drinks, the customer then feels obligated to drink them, even if he has to force them down.

(3)   Cocktails – Making alcohol sexier

Alcoholic cocktails are that “something a bit different” on the menu. First, cocktail names are memorable, often sexually suggestive, evocative, and often humorous. Usually involving an elaborate creative process in full view of the customer, cocktail making is as much a treat for the eyes as it is for the tongue. Infusing the flavours of gins, vodkas, whiskeys, tequilas or rums with fruit juices, liqueurs, and soft drinks and garnishing the glass with pieces of fresh fruit, mint leaves, cream, sugar, coconut milk and other fancy touches to produce a unique blended taste and exotic colouring all explain why cocktails are a staple of the alcoholic drinks menu in bars and clubs. The often lengthy time taken to make cocktails also gives bars the excuse to sell cocktail pitchers as well as single glasses, meaning more is sold to the same number of customers. And for this grandiose procedure, customers are willing to pay a premium price.

The customer pays, in part, for the image, the back-story, the ‘show’ which preceded the cocktail; they are not buying the ingredients, they are buying the cocktail experience, or at least this is the marketing intention to justify hiking up prices for a combination of ingredients which on their own would cost significantly less than the price of a cocktail. Some bar managers reported being more than happy to repackage a £3 rum-and-coke as a £8 Cuba Libre. While vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry juice and orange juice may be tasty drink, a “Sex on the Beach” with a straw umbrella and sugar-rimmed glass is a ‘product’ which commands an exponentially higher price. Cosmopolitans and French martinis say “class”; mojito’s say “cool”;  mai tai’s say “relax”. One trainer of cocktail makers said “Are the drinks made using fresh fruit? Does the bar tender look technically confident? All those are signs that you are getting value for money”. In much the same way that clothes, cars, and colognes are sold as  “more than just these things”, the cocktail is the bars’ opportunity to repackage ordinary ingerdients as an extraordinary product for which an extraordinary price is justified.

(4)   Skilled, attractive staff

The best bar staff are those who can get you to buy more than you wanted. You ask for a vodka and coke, the barman might offer to make it a double. You ask for a glass of wine, the barman might suggest you buy a bottle because it works out cheaper than buying individual glasses all night, pre-empting your decision to actually drink more than one glass. The downside of upselling is that customers drink more than they had intended to when they arrived at the bar. It is also well-known that the most popular bars and the bars with the highest turnovers generally employ the most attractive bar staff. Attractive, flirtatious male and female bar staff can ensure customers choose their bar for their next night out and ensure that customers visit the bar more regularly throughout the night.

(5)   In-venue alcohol marketing

According to a former marketing executive, eight out of ten drinkers walk through the door of a pub without knowing what they want, so “if you can put a brand name in their head they are very likely to remember it when they get to the bar”. Strategically placed posters, beer mats, printed glasses and illuminated signage all serve to keep the name of a drink at the front of the mind and the tip of the tongue. Bars and clubs receive incentives, discounts, and promotional products from drinks companies for the right to preferential placement of their marketing materials throughout a venue. The idea again is that an effective advertising can make the choice for the undecided customer, that he can be persuaded to buy a drink he either didn’t want or doesn’t even like.


These are just some of the tricks which bars and clubs use to persuade the customer to spend more money and time in their premises. However, it must be remembered that no one and nothing can literally make you drink. People drink when it makes sense for them to drink, and the tricks described here are intended to make the customer see drinking as something which makes sense at that moment. Effective marketing is that which presents ‘good’ reasons to drink, but these should be tempered with your own reasons for why you should or should not keep drinking.

By being aware of some of the tricks bar owners and bar staff are using to make more drinking seem like a good idea, you can keep in mind a quantity and speed of drinking which you consider sensible and so make sensible decisions about when you should call it a day.


Gueguen, N., Jacob, C., Le Guellec, H., Morineau, T., Lourel, M. (2008). Sound level of environmental music and drinking behavior: a field experiment with beer drinkers. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 32(10), 1795-1798.

Reed, J. (2011). Five tricks to make you buy more booze. Accessed 28/01/11 at http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/12299877