Alcohol and licensing policy could be changing the habits of young drinkers

Dec 15, 2008

In a new report published online today in the January issue of Addiction, researchers question whether current licensing policies have contributed to a rise in the phenomenon of "pre-drinking" amongst young people.

"Pre-drinking" or "pre-gaming" involves planned heavy drinking, usually at someone's home, before going to a social event, typically a bar or nightclub. As defined by young people themselves (see online dictionary of slang at www.urbandictionary.com) pre-drinking is "[the] act of drinking alcohol before you go out to the club to maximise your fun at the club while spending the least amount on extremely overpriced alcoholic beverages".

The authors see pre-drinking as symptomatic of a "new culture of intoxication" whereby young people are drinking with the primary motive of getting drunk. Recent research suggests that a large proportion of young people pre-drink and that pre-drinkers are more likely to drink heavily and to experience negative consequences as compared to non-pre-drinkers. Pre-drinking often involves the rapid consumption of large quantities of alcohol which may increase the risk of blackouts, hangovers and even alcohol poisoning. It may also encourage the use of other recreational drugs such as cannabis and cocaine as drinkers are socialising in unsupervised environments.

The authors argue that the policy of banning drink promotions or specials such as "happy hour" in bars and clubs may have the unintended consequence of encouraging young people to drink cheaper alcohol in private settings before going out, especially when heavily discounted alcohol is offered in shops and supermarkets. The authors also point out that while later closing times have been justified as a way of reducing problems associated with large numbers of young people being on the street after bars and clubs close, they may encourage private drinking to precede rather than follow public drinking, producing different social dynamics and possibly increasing the potential for violence and other alcohol-related problems.

To discourage or reduce pre-drinking, the authors suggest a comprehensive strategy including:

-- Developing policies that reduce large imbalances between on and off premise alcohol pricing
-- Attracting young people of legal drinking age back to the bar for early drinking, where alcohol consumption is monitored by serving staff and drinks are served in standard sizes
-- Addressing young people's motivations for pre-drinking, including being able to socialize with friends and saving money – for example bars might expand their social function and create an attractive atmosphere for more intimate socialising
-- Forming effective strategies to reduce planned intoxication – for example policy and programming could be aimed at changing drinking norms and promoting moderation

Lead author Dr. Samantha Wells, a researcher at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Canada says, "Many young bar-goers have found a way to avoid paying high alcohol prices in bars: they pre-drink. And we have begun to see that this intense and ritualized activity among young adults may result in harmful consequences. Therefore, we need to look closely at the combined impact of various policies affecting bars and young people's drinking and come up with a more comprehensive strategy that will reduce these harmful styles of drinking among young people."

Source: Wiley

Explore further: Many nurses unprepared to meet dying patients

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tropical Storm Dolly forms, threatens Mexico

24 minutes ago

Tropical Storm Dolly formed off Mexico's northeastern coast on Tuesday and headed toward landfall in Tamaulipas state, threatening to spark floods and mudslides, forecasters said.

Halliburton pays $1.1 bn for Gulf of Mexico BP spill

34 minutes ago

Oil services company Halliburton said Tuesday it would pay a $1.1 billion settlement over its role in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil rig blowout that led to the United States' most disastrous oil spill.

Scientists make diseased cells synthesize their own drug

39 minutes ago

In a new study that could ultimately lead to many new medicines, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have adapted a chemical approach to turn diseased cells into unique manufacturing ...

Modern population boom traced to pre-industrial roots

41 minutes ago

The foundation of the human population explosion, commonly attributed to a sudden surge in industrialization and public health during the 18th and 19th centuries, was actually laid as far back as 2,000 years ...

Researcher looks at the future of higher education

44 minutes ago

Most forecasts about the future of higher education have focused on how the institutions themselves will be affected – including the possibility of less demand for classes on campus and fewer tenured faculty members as ...

Recommended for you

Are human breast milk microbiome 'neutral'?

46 minutes ago

Human breast milk is considered the most ideal source of nutrition for infants and it should have played a critical role in the evolution and civilizations of human beings. Unlike our intuitive perception, human milk contains ...

Many nurses unprepared to meet dying patients

3 hours ago

Most nurses in their work care for patients who are dying. A study of more than 200 students has shown that many nurses in training feel unprepared and anxious when faced with the prospect of meeting patients during end-of-life ...

Spinach extract decreases cravings, aids weight loss

3 hours ago

A spinach extract containing green leaf membranes called thylakoids decreases hedonic hunger with up to 95% - and increases weight loss with 43%. This has been shown in a recently published long-term human study at Lund University ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Hoarsesenz
2 / 5 (1) Dec 15, 2008
The urbandictionary is hardly a reliable source. Anybody can write any definition they want there. (Including, perhaps, the authors of the report, to make their work seem more plausible.) Really, really poor research.
Omnitheo
not rated yet Dec 15, 2008
The relevance of this article is not based upon urbandictionary, it is simply being used for reference. The fact is, that a large portion of adolescents and young adults do pre-drink. there are facebook groups even called "I pre drink harder than you party". This is an increasing trend, and no less validated by the fact that it was referenced on urban dictionary.
madrocketscientist
5 / 5 (1) Dec 16, 2008
Another example of how banning something (or otherwise attempting to reduce the availability of something) in order to achieve a desired social change is a pointless effort.