Category: Addictive Behaviors
Past research has found many cigarette-users reject the smoker label (Levinson, 2006); emergent data likewise suggest that many alcohol-users may reject the drinker label (Uy et al., 2015). The current study replicated earlier findings of acceptance/rejection of drinker and smoker labels and further explored whether self-identification is associated with other substance use and social preferences. The sample comprised 362 (129 male, 75% White, mean age=19.8 years) undergraduates from a mid-sized liberal arts university. Consistent with past findings, alcohol use was the norm, with an average consumption of 8.10 standard drinks/week and .70 binge episodes/week. Although only 15% abstained from alcohol use, results replicated earlier findings as 50% of the sample rejected the drinker label when asked “Do you consider yourself a drinker?” Also consistent with past results, significantly more men (60%) than women (44%) accepted the drinker label (p=.005). Among those who rejected the label but reported alcohol use, average consumption was 3.57 standard drinks/week. Those who accepted the drinker label reported more weekly consumption (M=13.84, p < .001), more binge episodes (M=1.13/week, p < .001), and endorsed more DSM-5 Alcohol Use Disorder criteria (p < .001) than rejecters. Rejecters of the drinker label expressed more interest in dating a non-drinker (p < .001), in socializing in alcohol-free environments (p < .001), and were more bothered by friends getting drunk (p < .001) than acceptors. Cigarette use was much less common than alcohol use; a total of 42 respondents reported routine cigarette use. Results indicated only 21 respondents accepted the smoker label. Similar to the findings for the drinker label, those who rejected the smoker label expressed more interest in dating a non-smoker (p=.010) and socializing in smoke-free environments (p=.039). However, no differences emerged between rejecters and acceptors for either drinker or smoker labels regarding social pressure to drink or smoke when they did not want to. Accepting either label was associated with increased other-drug use. Of those who self-identified as a drinker, 24% reported cigarette use (vs. 8% of rejecters, p< .001) and 47% reported marijuana use (vs. 15% of rejecters, p<.001). Among self-identified smokers, 84% reported alcohol use (vs. 70% of rejecters, p=.186), and 81% reported marijuana use (vs. 28% of rejecters, p < .001). These results suggest that up to 50% of students reject the drinker label and up to 94% reject the smoker label, independent of use status. Students who do self-identify as either a drinker or a smoker are at increased risk for other substance use. Interventions aimed at college students should assess self-identity and offer expanded programming to those who accept either label.
Tiffany Graves– Graduate Student, Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio
Elizabeth Garcia– Graduate Student, Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio
Joseph Morger– Graudate Student, Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio
Melanie Rose Uy– Graduate Student, Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio
Susan Kenford– Faculty, Xavier University