Researchers say that banning happy hours and other drink promotions unintentionally encourages young people to find alternative sources for cheap alcohol before going out to bars.
A new study published in the January issue of Addiction said the phenomenon known as ‘pre-drinking’ or ‘pre-gaming’ is an effort to maximise the effect of alcohol without the concurrent financial costs associated with buying drinks at nightclubs and bars. The study’s authors cast the practice as representing a “new culture of intoxication,” where the main goal is simply to get drunk.
“Many young bar-goers have found a way to avoid paying high alcohol prices in bars: they pre-drink,” said Samantha Wells, a researcher at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Canada, study co-author. “We have begun to see that this intense and ritualised activity among young adults may result in harmful consequences.”
Recent research has shown that a large percentage of young people pre-drink, and those that do are likely to experience negative consequences. Pre-drinkers who consume a large amount of alcohol prior to heading out for a night on the town have an increased risk of blackouts, hangovers and alcohol poisoning, as well as an increased likelihood of using other drugs like cannabis and cocaine, researchers said.
To discourage or reduce pre-drinking, researchers suggested addressing the imbalance of alcohol costs on and off premises, called on bars to do more to attract patrons so drinking can be monitored by staff, and said policies and programming aimed at changing drinking norms should be developed.
Source: Addiction Jan 2009: When the Object Is To Get Drunk, Pre-Drinking Matters, Samantha Wells, Kathryn Graham, John Purcell.