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Report links current alcohol licensing policies to changing habits of young drinkers

In a report published in the online magazine Addiction, a team of researchers reviewed two existing licensing policies in relation to the changing drinking habits of young people.

The researchers reported that more teenagers nowadays engage in what they refer to as “pre-drinking” or “pre-gaming” which involves planned intoxication at a private setting before going to a bar, night club, or any other social event. According to young drinkers themselves, pre-drinking allows them to enjoy their time at a club or bar without having to spend too much on the expensive drinks sold in such venues.

Pre-drinking, the researchers noted, should be a cause for alarm because it is symptomatic of an emerging culture of intoxication that encourages young people to drink for the sole purpose of getting drunk. Furthermore, the researchers cited previous studies showing that young people who pre-drink tend to more alcohol and experience negative consequences compared to those who do not pre-drink.

The researchers further explained that because pre-drinking usually involves rapid consumption of alcohol, the act heightens the risks for hangovers, blackouts, and alcohol poisoning. It also encourages use of recreation drugs because it is done in an unsupervised setting, they added.

Two policies were identified by the researchers to have potentially, albeit unintentionally, caused the increase in pre-drinking practices among young people. These are removal of drink promotions such as “happy hour specials and the bar’s later closing hours. The first policy, the team explained, unintentionally encouraged young people to drink in private settings before going out. Young people with limited funds for alcohol usually buy cheap beverages from supermarkets drink in a friend’s house before heading out to bars, where alcohol is a lot more expensive.

Meanwhile, the team recognized that the second policy have effectively kept young people out of the streets after club hours but they pointed out that such rule may have encouraged private drinking to take place before instead of after public drinking.

“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,” lead researcher Dr. Samantha Wells explained.

Overall, it must be recognized that excessive drinking – whether private or public — has various negative consequences, among them the risk for addiction. Learn more about alcoholism and how you can fight it here at Miramar Recovery Centers. We are a California drug rehab and alcohol treatment facility that can help you take the path towards a life of sobriety. Call our helpline today for more information.