People who drink before they go out drinking are nearly twice as likely to experience negative consequences according to a new Swiss study. This new information shows similar data to U.S. and U.K. pre-drinking studies.
According to the Swiss researchers, the problem with pre-drinking is how it is consumed. People tend to drink more and faster when they pre-drink. This results in much higher blood alcohol levels and a greatly increased risk of drinking related problems.
"At first glance, it might seem that pre-drinking is not so prevalent in Switzerland," said Florian Labhart, a researcher at Addiction Switzerland as well as corresponding author for the study. "However, pre-drinking has been found in about one third of all on-premise drinking, which is a very high rate. Considering that pre-drinking leads people to consume nearly twice the normal amount of alcohol on a given night, its prevalence should not be underestimated from a public-health perspective."
The practice may be especially common in the U.S. because of the higher drinking age. Since teens and young adults can not drink legally, they often consume as much alcohol as possible before they go to a club or bar where they cannot but alcohol.
"Pre-drinking is a pernicious drinking pattern that is likely to lead people to cumulate two normal drinking occasions - one off-premise followed by one on-premise - and generally results in excessive alcohol consumption," said Labhart. "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."
Scientists also found that pre-drinking is just the start of the problem on a night out. People who drank before they went out often kept drinking thought the night. That means the pre-drinking phase did not take the place of drinking at a club or pub.
"In terms of specific adverse or risky outcomes from drinking," said Labhart, "47.5 percent of the men and women in the study reported the following outcomes: hangover (40.7% men, 36.1% women), unplanned substance use (20.9% and 12.4%), blackouts (11.6% and 7.2%), unintended or unprotected sexual intercourse (8.1% and 5.2%), injured self or someone else (5.8% and 3.1%), and property damage or vandalism (3.5% and 0.0%). Logically, given the large amounts of alcohol consumed, blackouts and hangover were especially prevalent on pre-drinking evenings."
Experts have said that it is important for people planning a night out to be more aware of their drinking habits. Party goers should also keep track of the number of drinks consumed in an evening. This not only helps people practice safer drinking habits, it can significantly reduce the chances of a negative outcome.