"Pre-party" Drinking Comes Under Academic Lens
> 12/24/2007 12:59:44 PM

Pre-party drinking, or pre-partying, is the practice of starting a night of party going off with a round of drinking before the festivities begin. There's a number of reasons that college students and young adults partake in pre-partying, which include but are not limited to:
  1. Drinking starts early to off-set the social awkwardness of arriving in a new atmosphere.
  2. Underage drinkers imbibe before arriving at a destination where they won't be served.
  3. Consuming drinks before an event lessens the number of drinks that must be purchased, thereby off-setting the cost of the evening.
Whatever the reason, as a recent USA Today article pointed out, pre-partying is a common behavior among young drinkers, and it is associated with many negative outcomes. College campuses, with their high concentrations of underage and young drinks, have a particular interest in reducing excessive drinking that often leads to poor or risky decision making. To this end, several professors hav begun investigating pre-party drinking behaviors with the hope of identifying effective strategies for reducing them.

Heads Up! is one such program, operating at the University of Loyola Marymount. Backed by alcohol researcher Joseph LaBrie, Heads Up offers a bevy of information for students as well as links to other useful campus resources. A particularly interesting aspect of the site is its connection to e-CHUG, or Loyola Marymount's electronic Check-Up to Go, a San Diego State created system that can be accessed by students to give them comprehensive feedback on their alcohol usage. E-Chug also appears to be a viable research tool for recording self-reported alcohol consumption data from college and high school students around the country.

Pre-partying is a behavior that is unlikely to disappear. Increased information about the practice though should provide educators with a better idea of the risks involved (those who pre-party tend to drink more over the course of the night, and also are likely to engage in after-event drinking), and this could help tailor outreach efforts. Drinking, and the risky behaviors that often come along with it, will continue to be a problem for administrators and other officials on campuses around the country, but a better understanding of the problem could lead to more effective prevention and treatment.

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