Preloading Before Going Out Causes Increased Intoxication, Study Confirms

Participants Surprised by Results of a Study on Preloading

A Griffith University study focused on the impacts of “preloading” (also called pre-gaming). Preloading is a term used to describe the common practice of consuming alcohol before going to out to drink more. Individuals who pre-loaded alcohol prior to an outing both drank more than they expected and got drunker than they expected.

The researchers examined 360 patrons in Brisbane and breath-tested them, Grant Devilly, a researcher professor from the School of Applied Psychology, wanted to focus on the preloading drinking motivations many had. They also wanted to study the effect of their drinking throughout the night along with the aftermath of preloading.

Researchers found individuals were motivated to save money by drinking at home and also by the desire connect with their friends. However, party goers were surprised by their blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) reading results. The more their numbers increased, the more surprised they became by the results.

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Different Intoxication Outcomes for Genders

A standard drink is considered from 1 shot of liquour (1.5 oz. glass), 1 glass of  beer (12 oz. glass), or 1 glass of wine (5 oz glass). Someone can drink 1 or several glasses, impacting the level of intoxication. If a man drinks 5 or more drinks in a 2-hour period or a woman drinks 4 or more drinks in a 2 hour period, it is considered binge drinking.

Gender impacts the way alcohol is absorbed in the body. Unsurprisingly, men and women expressed different numbers in the study. Men drank more while women got drunk faster, despite drinking less. This is not unusual, as women are more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. A Harvard study noted the difference, stating women’s bodies are comprised of less water and more fat compared to men’s bodies. Fat retains alcohol, and with organs exposed to “higher concentrations of alcohol” this poses a health risk. Women also have less of an alcohol enzyme called dehydrogenase, making it harder to metabolize alcohol.

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Tolerances and Interventions

Preloading is risky because it promotes peer-pressure-based alcohol use. People can drink greater amounts as they see their friends do so. Additionally, preloading can also distract someone from setting a healthy drinking limit. For example, a friend who prefers 2 drinks may abandon that standard if friends are drinking 4 drinks. Peer pressure may encourage them to go over their limit before drinking more alcohol later on in the night.

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Preloading is increasing in several groups of partygoers in various studies. Furthermore, frequent preloading can also encourage the development of an alcohol tolerance. Tolerance can become an alcohol dependence if someone experiences withdrawal symptoms if they cut back on their drinking or stop entirely. Eventually, an alcohol dependence can turn into alcoholism, or alcohol addiction.

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