Triggered by concern over the rise of “pre-drinking” practices among young people, several researchers from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Canada reviewed existing bar and alcohol licensing policies that may have encouraged increase of such practice.
According to the authors, who were led by Dr. Samantha Wells, the phenomenon of pre-drinking is paving way for a new brand of intoxication wherein young drinkers drink just to get drunk. Pre-drinking or pre-gaming, as defined by young people themselves, is the practice of heavy drinking in a friend’s house before going to a social function or club. This, still according to those who practice it, allows them to have fun at a club without spending too much on the expensive beverages sold there.
Dr. Wells and her colleagues focused on two existing policies, namely the banning of bar specials or drink promotions and the implementation of later closing hours. The researchers, while recognizing the good intentions behind such policies, argued that the the two have unintentionally promoted pre-drinking, which also encourages the use of recreational drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
On the subject of banning promotions and specials, the authors noted that such action unintentionally forced young people with limited money for drinks to buy cheaper alcohol from supermarkets and consume these in private, usually unsupervised settings, before going to a bar. Drinking sessions in such settings often involved unregulated alcohol consumption which increases the risk for hangovers, blackouts, and alcohol poisoning.
The researches also argued that the implementation of later closing time to keep young people from the streets during after hours only encouraged private drinking sessions to precede instead of follow going out. This, they noted, produces different social dynamics that may increase the likelihood of violence and other drinking-related problems.
In answer to the faults they saw in the reviewed policies, the researchers suggested the development of new strategies that would address the imbalance between private and public drinking, attract young people to go to clubs for early drinking, curb young people’s reasons for pre-drinking, and develop more effective means for reducing planned intoxication.
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