Duh! Study Finds White Girls Are More Likely To Abuse Alcohol Than Black Girls

June 14, 2013  |  


A new study from Yale University found that African American college aged “girls” (read: women) are less likely to develop drinking problems than white girls because of cultural and environmental factors.

The study cited parental disapproval, a more conservative attitude toward drinking and higher church attendance as reasons why there is such a stark difference between the two racial groups. The New Haven Register summarized the findings like this:

The study, published Thursday in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, focused on 3,500 female twins, both identical and fraternal, “to look at the relative contributions of genetics vs. environment on (the) age of first drink and problem drinking,” Sartor said. 

What we found is that there’s no shared environmental effects” in African-American teens who abuse alcohol, Sartor said. “Family environment is not playing a role in problem drinking.” For black girls who drink heavily, genetics and individual experiences, such as different friends or traumatic events, are more relevant, she said 

At a community and cultural level, European-Americans are not doing as good a job at protecting their girls from problem drinking as African-Americans are.” 

Interestingly enough, this is not something we needed a study to tell us. As someone who attended a predominately white university, when girls were being carried home, throwing up in elevators or falling out in the street they were white. Not that black girls didn’t get wasted but the numbers didn’t lie.

While the study cited church and less importance placed on drinking etc, after some discussion about the issue in our office we also concluded that black people are less carefree when we go out partying. Many of us are keenly aware of the fact that if we get too intoxicated to take care of ourselves and end up causing some type of disturbance, we’re less likely to get the benefit of the doubt. We just might be interacting with the police. And if have to interact with the police that just might mean we’ll endure abuse, mistreatment or in some cases even death. If we get too drunk and end up lost or missing we know there won’t be national searches looking to ensure that we’re returned to our families safely.

It’s a sad tale; but for many of us, we don’t even leave the house on the same level of abandon or “carefreeness” that white women do. In addition to the safety issues, we know that if we’re in a mixed crowd many of us are also worried about how we’ll be perceived if people who aren’t black see us out here acting a fool.

But that’s just our theory. What are some of the reasons you think African American college-aged women drink less than white women?

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  • York

    I would dare to say the media has much to do with this as well. Think about the shows catered to young white women-Sex in the City, 90210, etc. They make alcohol a prominent part of many social interactions. Happy Hour, lunch break, morning mimosas….they weren’t even old enough to drink on 90210 but the alcohol was always flowing! For them, anytime cocktail = cool. I’m not sure many young black women can relate to that.

  • NJ2

    I think that white girls start drinking earlier. In high school, they were more likely to be at a party where drinking was going on. By college they are drinking either more frequently or harder liquor. In college, the black groups had parties on the weekend. White parties began on Tuesday and continued through the rest of the week, like hairdressers. Plus my roommate and I did not drink at the same time, one had to make sure the other was safe. Frat parties often left white girls alone because they would jump from house to house drinking.

  • clove8canela

    Wow. This is the one study that was actually right on the ball. In my experience, whites start drinking in high school, so that by the time they’ve reached the college level, they’re pros. Also, I think culture is a huge part as black parents are not going to be as forgiving, or accepting, of underaged drinking as some white parents may be.

  • Lyn

    Uh yea. I threw up from 2 long islands safe to say my tolerance is low as hell.

    The idea of doing more than one shot is very daunting to me as well.

    And at 3 drinks, I consider myself maxed out. Safe to say this study is about right.

    I see white girls taking shot after shot after shot, and its just like wow.

    Also, black women are more like to check one another or raise an eyebrow if a friend is drinking during “non-drinking” times, like morning, lunch.

    • I’m with you. Low tolerance to alcohol. Plus my parents very rarely drank in our presence. You already knew you betta not lose yourself and end up arrested, car totaled, or missing.

      • hollyw

        I think that’s the real cause. My parents didn’t drink, either. I remember the first time I saw my (White) friends’ parents drink in front of us… The horror. I don’t know the stats, but I’d be willing to bet that of all the risk factors that come with being Black, alcoholism isn’t one of em!

        • thatonegirl

          Yeah, I was shocked during graduation weekend seeing my white friends go to a bar/club with their parents in a college town. I couldn’t even imagine sitting at a bar at Applebees with my parents.

          • hollyw

            Right, and parents DRINKING with their kids! I remember parents drinking with their kids in HIGH SCHOOL!! One of the parents was like, “better it be in my house, under my roof, then a stranger’s…”, I said to myself, lady, are you r*tarded?? So delusional.

            • Itsashame

              I know a girl who’s mother made her drink until she was drunk before she went to college so she knew what her limit was. I nearly fainted at the thought of my parents doing anything like that. I don’t know if it was because of racial differences or my Pentecostal upbringing.

              • hollyw

                Probably both! And girl, that is shameful. Smdh.

  • hollyw

    Does anyone else think threat of sex abuse plays into it..? From a very young age, I absorbed that “too drunk” for women, esp. in school settings, meant prime targets for date rape…

    I mean, maybe I watched too many PSAs gorwing up lol, but I didn’t drink a drop in high school or college, OR grad school! Watching who your drinking buddies would be also made a difference; I’d be like, dag if drink like this, who gone take care of me?? Lol smh. I’m 28 now and didn’t start enjoying wines until 2yrs ago…much more mature w/more mature friends =|

    • Guest360

      I was just about to write the same thing. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the “don’t leave your drink unattended” speech from my parents but it was enough to make me damn near paranoid when I go out lol. I’m not into going out, getting wasted, and not being able to protect myself because I’m so far out of it. I would think that was a common sense thing but apparently not if you look at this study lol.

  • Dee

    hence the term “White girl wasted”

  • Kemi

    I was usually the designated driver amongst my mixed group of friends. I think all the reasons in this article are completely accurate. I feel that if I get drunk and look crazy, people are more likely to make rash generalizations about my race and I don’t want anything to do with that. I also don’t need to drink a lot to dance like a lot of my white friends.