Alcohol Pre-Loading

Pre-loading (also known as preloading, pre-drinking, predrinking, pre-gaming, pregaming, prefunking, home drinking, and prinking), is drinking at a private residence before going out at night to socialize, to party, to attend a sports event (hence the term pre-gaming), or to go to any place where access to alcohol might be expensive, limited or prohibited.

Preloading usually occurs before a night out, but it often occurs before other activities at which obtaining alcohol might be difficult or expensive or when its possession is illegal.

The motives for the popular practice can include entering a party or other event already buzzed, saving money on the evening by consuming less expensive alcohol at home before leaving, to ensure that the drinker’s supply of alcohol will not be exhaused before the evening is over, to reduce anxiety before beginning the evening’s entertainment, to be able to socialize more easily without the loud noise in bars, or to conform. 

A study of 18 to 24 year-olds in the state of Victoria in Australia found that three-quarters reported pre-loading alcohol before going out at night to bars and pubs.1 There is evidence that pre-loading leads to higher consumption levels.2 However, a study in Cambridge, England found that preloading was not a risk factor for alcohol-related emergency department visits.3 Alternatively, a study in Liverpool found that those who pre-loaded were 2.5 times more likely to have been involved in a fight in the city's nightlife during the previous 12 months.4 A study in Switzerland also found that pre-loading was associated with negative outcomes.5

Studies have found that more women than men engage in preloading6 but estimates of the proportion of people who pre-load vary widely. The proportion may be increasing as a result of increasingly strict alcohol laws and their enforcement.

To the extent that pre-loading occurs as a result of high alcohol prices, the effects on retail vendors would appear to be negative as they sell less alcohol. It also increases the risk of liability as a result of serving intoxicated persons.

Pre-drinking, by whatever name, appears to be an undesirable high-risk practice.

 

Resources

  • 1 Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation. Dangers of pre-loading on alcohol. State of Victoria website. vcglr.vic.gov.au/utility/community/young+people+and+alcohol/dangers+of+pre-loading+on+alcohol.
  • 2 Hughes K, et al. Anderson Z, Morleo M, Bellis MA. Alcohol, nightlife and violence: the relative contributions of drinking before and during nights out to negative health and criminal justice outcomes. Addiction, 2008, 103, 60–65; Labhart, F., et al.  Drinking before going to licensed premises: an event-level analysis of predrinking, alcohol consumption, and adverse outcomes. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 2013, 37(2), 284-291.
  • 3 Boyle, A. Alcohol-related emergency department attendances: is preloading a risk factor? Cross-sectional survey. International Journal of Emergency Medicine, 2010, 3(3), 151–155.
  • 4 Hughes K, et al. Alcohol, nightlife and violence: the relative contributions of drinking before and during nights out to negative health and criminal justice outcomes. Addiction, 2008, 103, 60–65.
  • 5 Labhart, F., et al.  Drinking before going to licensed premises: an event-level analysis of predrinking, alcohol consumption, and adverse outcomes. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 2013, 37(2), 284-291.   
  • 6 Boyle, A. Alcohol-related emergency department attendances: is preloading a risk factor? Cross-sectional survey. International Journal of Emergency Medicine, 2010, 3(3), 151–155; Hughes K, et al. Alcohol, nightlife and violence: the relative contributions of drinking before and during nights out to negative health and criminal justice outcomes. Addiction, 2008, 103, 60–65.

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