Pregaming, preloading, predrinking (as we call it in the UK), or prinking (which makes me feel a little sick) is the practice of consuming alcohol before going to a social event. It's a relatively new phenomena, but there's already been a lot written about how pregaming can affect your health. Although the internet can't offer a conclusive point in which the word pregaming came to mean loading up on booze before a big night out, what I can confirm is that it was created for young people, by young people to save money on extortionate alcohol prices by drinking at home first.
That doesn't sound too risky, right? Having a tipple or two with friends in the quiet of your own apartment, before you head out to the busier (and noisier) bar or club. Well research shows that for most of us, pregaming isn't characterized by a tipple or two; the issue is that oftentimes, a whole night's worth of drinking takes place before we've even left. And then drinking more later on contributes to the likelihood of partaking in risky behaviors.
But luckily (for our health at least), the U.S. is lagging behind when it comes to the international pregame ranking. Research has shown that out of 25 countries and 65,126 people examined using data from the Global Drugs Survey, it's actually the Irish who are the best at knocking back the booze before a social event.
The results, which were published last week in the Drug and Alcohol Review journal, found that 85.4 percent of the 1,883 Irish survey respondents said they drank alcohol before going out in public. Norway came in at a close second with 80 percent admitting to the same, followed by New Zealand and Denmark. The USA only reached the mid-sixties — and quite honestly, it's great to lose at this.
So is pregaming a global concern? The study authors were hoping to work out what increases the likelihood of drinking at home. They concluded that while pre-drinking is a part of cultures across the world, it's actually the number of current and heavy drinkers in a country coupled with the national price of booze which creates the percentage of pre-drinkers. According to the study's authors, "The higher the prevalence of current drinkers, the higher the percentage of pre-drinkers […] In countries with a low price ratio, the higher the prevalence of heavy drinkers, the higher the percentage of pre-drinkers. The opposite effect was observed in countries with high price ratios."
Of course, pregaming to excess in any culture really shouldn't be applauded. Previous research from Switzerland found that pregamers are more likely to drink heavily over the course of a night than those who don't pre-drink, which, when done often, may adversely impact health and increase your likelihood of developing alcohol dependency. Another study from Australian researchers at Deakin University and Hunter New England Population Health concluded that pregaming can increase the rate of violence at nightclubs. Yikes.
Predrinking is a popular part of going out culture for many of us, but it's important to remember that when done to excess, it can produce pretty negative effects. And if you think you're drinking too much now, there are ways you can start cutting back on the booze. Drinking is fun folks, but like most things, it's everything in moderation.