Older generations are 'pre-drinking' at home to dangerous levels, study finds
The terms ‘pre-loading’ or ‘pre-drinking’ might conjure up images of a group of students cramped into a tiny flat and hitting the booze before a night out on the town to try and save money, but a new study into the nation’s drinking habits has revealed that in fact, their parents could also be excessively drinking before even heading out the door. Researchers involved the study, published yesterday in the journal Addiction, warned that middle-aged Britons are putting their health at risk by 'pre-loading' with alcohol at home before a night out, with some also finishing off the night with a few drinks when they get back home. The researchers, based at Sheffield University, analysed the weekly diaries of drinking habits completed by 60,200 over-18s between 2009 and 2011. It was discovered that 1 in 5 had drinks at home before or after going out in the previous week. Worryingly, it seems that adults are routinely consuming 14 units of alcohol – equivalent to a bottle and a half of wine – in an evening by drinking in several locations. According to NHS guidelines, this means they have reached their maximum limit for the entire week. The study will shatter the long-term myth that pre-drinking is merely something done by hard-up students looking to save a few quid on their night out, and will add to increasing concerns that older generations are actually drinking harmful levels of alcohol. This will therefore increase their risk of developing serious health problems such as cancer and heart disease. Dr John Holmes, who led the study, said: “When we looked at this in more detail, it seemed that people were pre-loading and post-loading - drinking when they got back home. “It might be that you're going out to dinner with friends and you open a bottle of wine before you go, or you go to Sunday lunch and then have a beer in the garden afterwards. “For those in middle-age, it's probably not drinking before going out and tearing up the town, but it leads to them consuming the same amount as younger age groups, which obviously affects their health long-term if they're doing it regularly.” The drinking sessions that comprised of several drinking locations made up of 11% of all occasions on which the people in the study had drank alcohol, with 14% where the participants had only been drinking at home – where they would normally drink around 11.6 units through the course of an evening. This is equivalent to 4 large glasses of wine. The study showed that another 11% of drinking occasions occurred whilst being out with friends and 9% were going out for a meal as a couple or with family. The authors of the study highlighted dinner parties as occasions when adults drink 'very heavily'. Dr James Nicholls, director of research and policy development at charity Alcohol Research UK, which funded the study, commented: “I was surprised it wasn't just young people doing the pre-loading. “If you start before you go out you are more likely to be drunk by the end of the night. The amount we drink at home is usually considerably higher than we remember it being. You're pouring your own drinks and glasses are large.” Jackie Ballard, of charity Alcohol Concern, said: “Harmful drinking is a real issue for middle-aged and older people. Many of this group are regularly drinking above recommended limits, often in their own homes where it can be harder to keep track of how much you're consuming.” Katherine Brown, of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, argued that it is the easy availability to get cheap booze which is why drinking at home is becoming more common, where it is 'very easy' to drink unhealthy levels. For those concerned that they are drinking too much and want to reduce their alcohol intake, Medical Specialists® Pharmacy can provide alcohol dependency treatment Selincro (nalmefene) to suitable patients. Selincro’s active ingredient, nalmefene, works by latching onto certain opioid receptors in the brain that are responsible for addictive behaviour, altering their activity, thereby decreasing the urge to continue drinking. This medication is available for people who do not have physical withdrawal symptoms and who do not require immediate detoxification. You must record at least 2 weeks of your alcohol consumption before taking your online consultation with Medical Specialists®.