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Alcohol as a social lubricant in gay community: findings from the Quickie Study


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An overview of fndings from the Quickie study. This presentation was given at the AFAO HIV Educators Conference in May 2008.

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Alcohol as a social lubricant in gay community: findings from the Quickie Study

  1. 1. Alcohol as a social lubricant in gay community: findings from the Quickie Study Diana Bernard, Martin Holt, Kane Race
  2. 2. Background <ul><li>Articles on: </li></ul><ul><li>Higher rates of problematic alcohol use among gay/MSM Stall - (2001), Lohrenz (1978)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural importance of bars/broader social context - McKirnan & Peterson (1989)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Alcohol and sexual risk - Mc Kirnan& Vanable (2001), Parsons (2004)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Controversy around association between alcohol and risk - Weinhardt (2001), Weatherburn (1993), Perry (1994)‏ </li></ul>
  3. 3. Background continued <ul><li>Quickie men’s view and strategies (harm reduction framework) </li></ul><ul><li>Pleasure seeking as motivation for alcohol use </li></ul><ul><li>Sensation of alcohol </li></ul><ul><li>Context of alcohol </li></ul><ul><li>Harness pleasure seeking for harm reduction by combining pleasure and safety </li></ul>
  4. 4. Method <ul><li>Gay identifying MSM in Sydney over 18 who were sexually active </li></ul><ul><li>HIV negative and positive </li></ul><ul><li>In depth interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Large card prompts (Farias & Montero 2005)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Topics: community, the Internet, socialising, relationships, health, HIV, living with HIV, STIs, sex, condoms & drugs & alcohol. </li></ul><ul><li>Pseudonyms </li></ul><ul><li>31 participants in 2006-7 </li></ul>
  5. 5. Findings <ul><li>Alcohol as social lubricant – “Alcohol is very important to many gay men” Ray 47 </li></ul><ul><li>Problematic use -“My life was a bit of a mess and I would get pissed and go cruising in certain areas” Darcy 71 </li></ul><ul><li>“ Funny if I take ecstasy I’m very much more with it whereas if I get really rotten drunk I lose all sense of what I’m doing” Gabriel 26 </li></ul><ul><li>Alcohol as disinhibitor –” Sometimes if I’m out and about on Oxford St and I get a bit under the weather (on alcohol) and am enjoying myself a bit too much, I’m likely not to trust myself. I’m Likely to take risks that ordinarily I would stay away from” Toby 37 </li></ul><ul><li>“ I love sex when I’m drunk. I love it. It’s good. I take more time to ejaculate so I can last longer and I think you get less inhibition for whatever –toys or positions” Octavio 30 </li></ul><ul><li>Alcohol and context – “ For me it isn’t related to alcohol. I have to be in the mood and then it breaks down the barriers but it doesn’t make me more horny or interested in someone if I wasn’t already.” Carl 35 </li></ul>
  6. 6. Findings continued 1 <ul><li>Alcohol & riskier practice “ It does change your practice (being drunk). It is easier to be less discriminating” says Adonis and Toby 37 </li></ul><ul><li>“ I would engage in riskier practices because of alcohol use. My usual practice is condom use. So if I drank I might decide to slip up. Not decide, it just sort of happens and it’s not really a conscious decision. If I was pissed all the time I would be more likely to slip up.” </li></ul><ul><li>Alcohol as a confidence booster – “Alcohol is something that makes me more likely to have sex with someone. I think because the situation is social, I will feel more confident. I don’t think I have ever felt totally out of control but it does take away your ability to kind of control the situation a bit and you do tend to let things go that you might not have otherwise”. Caleb 22 </li></ul>
  7. 7. Findings continued 2 <ul><li>Positive management strategies for alcohol: </li></ul><ul><li>“ I try to protect myself by remaining on the other side of the bridge and not going to Oxford St” Toby 37 </li></ul><ul><li>“ I had some bad experiences with alcohol where I felt vulnerable so these days when I’m out my first rule is to be home by 10.30 or I drink where I am safe (at home). Previously I would have drunk until I had fallen over. This clouded my judgement & behaviour.” Peter 46 </li></ul>
  8. 8. Findings continued 3 <ul><li>“ Generally if I’m drunk it’s probably three in the morning and we’ve gone home and I’m pretty tired and pretty happy just pashing and in the morning we can talk about it (sexual strategies) before doing anything dangerous” . Caleb 22 </li></ul><ul><li>And Lance says “ Even if I use alcohol I always keep control. I don’t know why. I just give out my number and walk away.” </li></ul>
  9. 9. Discussion <ul><li>Literature focuses on risk thereby attributing blame (Lupton 1993)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge doesn’t always change behaviour (Bandura 1982, Prochaska 1992)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Alcohol intricately linked with gay socialising and spaces ( context ) (Zinberg 1984, Duff 2008)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Engage with pleasure (ie accept desire for pleasure) and harness this to harm reduction (Race 2008)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Contextualise harm reduction </li></ul>
  10. 10. Further discussion <ul><li>Be sensitive to role of alcohol in gay men’s sexual practice </li></ul><ul><li>“ Alcohol has an appeal similar to crystal in that it gives people a sense of confidence and increases their sexual desire. I think for gay men that is fairly attractive” Damien 46 </li></ul>
  11. 11. Summary <ul><li>Recognising the appeal of alcohol, its role in gay socialising and the problems and strategies that gay men report when talking about alcohol, is important for designing pragmatic strategies to encourage safer and pleasurable alcohol use. </li></ul>