December 16, 2008

To avoid pricey drinks many ‘pre-drink’

Banning drink promotions or happy hour in bars and clubs may result in young people drinking privately before going to clubs, Canadian researchers said.

Lead author Dr. Samantha Wells of the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto said many young bar-goers avoid paying high alcohol prices in bars by pre-drinking and this intense and ritualized activity among young adults may result in harmful consequences.

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, Wells said. Pre-drinking often involves the rapid consumption of large quantities of alcohol which may increase the risk of blackouts, hangovers and even alcohol poisoning.

The authors suggest that pre-drinking is symptomatic of a new culture of intoxication whereby young people are drinking with the primary motive of getting drunk.

The study, published in the January issue of Addiction, also points out that while later bar and nightclub 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.