How to cut alcoholism in youngsters

December 17, 2008

With pre-drinking giving rise to a “new culture of intoxication” among youngsters, experts from Centre for Addiction and Mental Health suggest a comprehensive strategy that can help change the habits of young drinkers.

“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.

The dictionary meaning of 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”.

A 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.

It often involves 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 experts suggest that there is a need of 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

Making them aware of the 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.

There is a dire need of forming effective strategies to reduce planned intoxication – for example policy and programming could be aimed at changing drinking norms and promoting moderation.

“Many young bar-goers have found a way to avoid paying high alcohol prices in bars: they pre-drink,” said lead author Dr. Samantha Wells, a researcher at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Canada.

“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,” she added.


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