Alcohol pre-loading is also called
- Home drinking
It’s also sometimes spelled predrinking, pregaming, and pre-funking. Take your choice.
Alcohol pre-loading is drinking at a private residence before going out at night. The destination is a place to socialize, party, or attend a sports event (hence the term pre-gaming). Or it might be to go to any place where access to alcohol might be expensive, limited or prohibited.
I. Reasons for Pre-Drinking
The motives for the popular practice are many. They can include entering an event already buzzed or saving money by drinking less expensive alcohol at home before leaving. It can be to ensure that the drinker’s supply of alcohol won’t be exhaused before the night is over. Often it’s to reduce anxiety before beginning the evening’s entertainment. Some Pre-load to socialize more easily without the loud noise in bars. And, of course, many pre-load simply to conform.
Preloading usually occurs before a night out. However, it often occurs before other activities at which obtaining alcohol might be problematic.
II. Research on Alcohol Pre-Loading
Researchers studied 18 to 24 year-olds in the state of Victoria in Australia. They found that three-quarters reported pre-loading alcohol before going out at night to bars and pubs.1
Some investigators report that pre-loading leads to higher consumption levels.2 However, a study in Cambridge, England reported that preloading was not a risk factor for alcohol-related emergency department visits.3
Alternatively, a study in Liverpool found very different results. It reported 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 Similarly, 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 preloading.6 However, estimates of the proportion of people who pre-load vary widely. And the proportion may be increasing as a result of increasingly strict alcohol laws and their enforcement.
III. Other Results of Preloading
When pre-loading results from high alcohol prices, the effects on retail vendors are negative. That is, they sell less alcohol. It also increases their risk of liability as a result of serving intoxicated persons.
Pre-drinking, by whatever name, may be an undesirable high-risk practice.
IV. Resources on Alcohol Pre-Loading
Barton, A. and Husk, K. “I don’t really like the pub […]”: reflections on young people and pre-loading alcohol. Drugs Alco Today, 2014, 14(2), 58-66
DeJong, W., et al. Pregaming. An exploratory study. J Am Coll Health, 2010, 58(4), 307-316.
Foster, J. and Ferguson, C. Alcohol ‘pre-loading.’ A review of the literature. Alco Alco, 2013, 49(2), 213-226.
McCreanor, T., et al. ’Drink a 12 box before you go.’: Pre-loading among young people. New Zealand J Soc Sci, 2016, 11(1), 36-46.
Ostergard, J. and Andrade, S. Who pre-drinks before a night out and why? J Sub Use, 2014, 19(3), 229-238.
References on Alcohol Pre-loading
1 Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation. Dangers of pre-loading on alcohol. State of Victoria website.
2 Hughes K, et al. Alcohol, nightlife and violence. Addict, 2008, 103, 60–65. Labhart, F., et al. Drinking before going to licensed premises. An analysis of predrinking. Alco Clin Exper Res, 2013, 37(2), 284-291.
3 Boyle, A. Alcohol-related emergency department attendances. Is preloading a risk factor? Inter J Emerg Med, 2010, 3(3), 151–155.
4 Hughes, ibid.
5 Labhart, ibid.
6 Boyle, ibid. Hughes, ibid.