Wednesday 19 June 2019

Irish over-30s get back into old habits of pre-drinking

New study: Drinking at home is big among the over-30s
New study: Drinking at home is big among the over-30s

Lynne Kelleher

Irish people increase their pre-drinking rates after the age of 30 instead of slowing down, according to a new study. Pre-drinking, pre-loading or pre-gaming was defined as having a couple of drinks at home before going out.

It is generally seen as a pursuit of the cash-strapped young party-goer but an international research paper has revealed that Ireland is one of the few countries where the custom increases after the age of 30.

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This comes in the wake of a series of reports highlighting the culture of binge drinking in Ireland.

The latest research carried out on over 64,000 respondents from 27 countries - comprising mainly European states, along with the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil - has just been published in the Alcohol and Alcoholism journal.

The estimated percentage of pre-drinkers per country ranged from 17.8pc in Greece to 85.6pc in Ireland which topped the table.

While the highest rates of pre-drinking are among 16-to-21-year-olds in Ireland, the habit falls off among Irish revellers in their 20s. But it starts to rise again among drinkers in their early 30s.

"While we noted a decline in pre-drinking probability among respondents in all countries after 21 years of age, after the age of 30 this probability remained constant in some countries, or even increased in Brazil, Canada, England, Ireland, New Zealand and the United States," said the authors.

The study, headed by Dr Jason Ferris from the University of Queensland, stated that pre-drinking is "often motivated by the higher cost of alcohol in licensed venues, many people also choose to pre-drink to achieve rapid intoxication, or to facilitate socialising with friends".

The authors added: "The practice has become an issue of increasing global concern due to evidence linking pre-drinking with higher levels of alcohol use and intoxication and increased risk of adverse alcohol-related consequences such as blackouts, assault, injury or arrest."

Although they didn't record the volume of alcohol taken at pre-drinking occasions or motivations, the authors suggested there could be different reasons behind the practice for the younger and older age groups.

They noted: "We might expect that young drinkers are more likely to pre-drink to save money and get intoxicated in unsupervised environments, while some adults in their early 30s may enjoy the opportunity to socialise with friends in a quiet environment."

This latest research comes in the wake of a WHO report which revealed that Irish teetotallers have more than halved over the past three decades - while binge drinkers have sharply risen.

The alarming figures show Ireland is currently No.5 in the planet in the global drinking rankings with just over 13 litres of pure alcohol a year per adult consumed in Ireland in 2017. The new pre-drinking study used data from the Global Drugs Survey to compare the percentage of pre-drinking by sex and from the ages 16 to 35 years, across the 27 countries.

The researchers also focused on the influence of sex on pre-drinking with the results showing a large variation between the 27 countries.

The authors of the study said pre-drinking is a worldwide phenomenon but varies substantially by sex and age between countries.

"Policy-makers would benefit from increased understanding of the particularities of pre-drinking in their own country to efficiently target harmful pre-drinking behaviours," said the authors.

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