Newswise — “Pregaming” is defined as drinking alone or with other people before going to an event or get-together where alcohol may be present. Pregaming often involves rapid drinking, which can quickly produce high blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) that meet or exceed the legal limit for intoxication. It is a common, high-risk drinking activity among college students that remains largely unaffected by efforts to reduce its occurrence. This study sought to identify profiles of pregamers to characterize the specific risks associated with the behavior, and to develop more effective prevention strategies on college campuses.

Researchers recruited 911 undergraduates (547 women, 364 men) with self-identified pregaming experience from three U.S. universities during late 2012. The students were 18-25 years old and ethnically diverse (42.9% white). All participants reported on their recent alcohol use (overall, heavy, and pregaming), their pregaming motives, general demographics, living arrangements, and involvement in Greek organizations. Alcohol-related consequences were measured by the Young Adult Alcohol Consequences Questionnaire.

Pregaming was used by students for several reasons including knowing what is in their drinks, to avoid getting caught drinking while underage, minimizing expense, and to promote intoxication. Five distinct profiles of students who engaged in pregaming were identified. Three of the five profiles – Instrumental, Global, and Risk-Averse – involved frequent pregaming that varied by their intensity and underlying motives. The two other profiles – Occasional and Infrequent – included students who were less engaged in pregaming. Given that current alcohol prevention/intervention efforts do not appear to have much impact on pregaming, the study authors suggested using these profiles to distinguish pregamers by their consumption levels and motives; doing so could help to develop more tailored intervention approaches for students who engage in this high-risk practice for different reasons.

Journal Link: Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research