They call it “pre-drinking,“ “pre-partying” or “pre-funking,” and it usually involves chugging cheap alcoholic drinks before heading out to a bar, club or sporting event.
While addiction experts estimate that 65 percent to 75 percent of college-age youths engage in such boozy behavior, a Swiss study concludes that such “pre-loaded” evenings are far more likely to end in blackouts, unprotected sex, unplanned drug use or injury.
“Pre-drinking is a pernicious drinking pattern,” said co-author Florian Labhart, a researcher at Addiction Info Switzerland, in Lausanne. “Excessive consumption and adverse consequences are not simply related to the type of people who pre-drink, but rather to the practice of pre-drinking itself.”
The study, to be published in an upcoming issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, examined the drinking habits of more than 250 Swiss students.
“Reasons given for pre-drinking include saving money, getting in the mood for partying, becoming intoxicated and socializing with friends or facilitating contacts with potential sexual partners,” the authors wrote.
Shannon Kenney, a sociology professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, said pre-drinking behavior was likely as prevalent, or more so, in the United States, where the legal drinking age was much higher. In Switzerland, youths can legally purchase alcohol at age 16.
Kenney, who did not participate in the study, said the concept of pre-drinking has only recently been studied by addiction experts. Because of its risky nature and prevalence, she said, it warranted closer examination.
Study authors noted several possible shortcomings in their study. Among them was that only students with Internet capable cellphones could participate. Also, the study questions were extremely short, so that they could be read on a small cellphone screen or answered by someone in an intoxicated state.