Photo by Smedpull (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Pre-Partying and Drinking Games Increase Odds of Extreme Drinking Behaviors in College Students

A new study examined the concept of extreme drinking in college students, and whether certain behaviors such as “pre-partying” or drinking games influence how extreme the drinking actually gets.

Many of us know that a lot of alcohol is consumed during college, and is often the first time adult children have been away from the protective eyes of their parents.

A new study out of Penn State University, the #9 Party School in the US in 2014 and moving up to #7 in 2015 according to the Princeton Review, looked at whether extreme drinking was more likely on days

Photo by Smedpull (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by Smedpull (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
when the students reported pre-partying or playing drinking games.

A couple of definitions in case it’s been too long since your college experience:

  • Pre-partying: a.k.a. “pre-gaming” – Constitutes drinking prior to leaving the dorms and going out to the bars or other parties.
  • Extreme drinking – According to this study extreme drinking involves drinking so much that BAC levels were 0.16% or greater, enough alcohol was consumed to result in stumbling, or the individual drank enough to pass out (or in the case of the image above, blacking out in a dog crate with a 40 strapped to your hands).

400 college seniors that were at the legal drinking age (21) were observed in this study. 4 different extreme drinking outcomes were measured: 1) drinking at least 8 drinks for women and 10 drinks for men; 2) BAC of at least 0.16; 3) stumbling; and 4) passing out.

Important Findings:

  • Pre-partying (without playing drinking games) occurred on 29% of reported drinking days.
  • Playing drinking games (without pre-partying) occurred on 10% of reported drinking days.
  • The odds of extreme drinking among participants who frequently participated in pre-partying were about 2 to 2.5 times greater than those students who did not frequently pre-party.
  • The odds of extreme drinking among participants who frequently played drinking games were about 2 to 4 times greater than those students who did not frequently play drinking games.
  • Pre-partying frequency did not predict drinking enough to pass out, but was more likely to result in the other three measured outcomes mentioned above.
  • Playing drinking games did not predict that students would have a BAC of 0.16% of more.
  • Odds of extreme drinking were higher on days that students pre-partied (1.6-2x greater) and on days that students played drinking games (1.7-1.8x greater).

In summary, taking the whole sample of 400 college students, if they played drinking games or pre-partied, they were nearly twice as likely to exhibit extreme drinking behaviors as students not participating in these events.

For those students who frequently participated in pre-partying or drinking game events, they were even more likely to exhibit extreme

Photo by Eva Rinaldi from Sydney Australia (Ice Cube  Uploaded by russavia) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by Eva Rinaldi from Sydney Australia (Ice Cube Uploaded by russavia) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
drinking behaviors than students who participated in these events less frequently (2-4 times more likely).

To all those college students pre-partying, pre-gaming, or playing drinking games (I can relate….I, too, went to college), in the words of Ice Cube, “check yourself before you wreck yourself”, and try to take it down a notch.

Source:

Fairlie, A.M., Maggs, J.L., and Lanza, S.T. 2015. Prepartying, drinking games, and extreme drinking among college students: A daily-level investigation. Addictive Behaviors 42: 91-95.