Pregaming in High School Students: Relevance to Risky Drinking Practices, Alcohol Cognitions, and the Social Drinking Context

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Pregaming is the practice of consuming alcohol prior to going out to a social event. Although pregaming has begun to receive research attention in the college setting, very little is known about this risky drinking behavior in high school students. As pregaming has health implications for both students who are college bound and those who are not, we examined the prevalence of this behavior in a sample of high school students who reported current alcohol use and completed pregaming measures (n = 233). The present study examined the associations of gender, age, alcohol expectancies, motivations for drinking (e.g., social, enhancement, and coping), and engagement in other risky drinking practices (i.e., general hazardous use and drinking game participation) with pregaming. Results indicate that pregaming was significantly associated with being older, being a male, having high levels of hazardous alcohol use, and participating in drinking games frequently. Pregaming also occurred most often before parties and sporting events and it was associated positively with frequency of attendance at parties where alcohol is available, the tendency to use alcohol at these parties, and the amount of alcohol consumed at these parties. We discuss the findings in the context of pregaming research that has been conducted with college students, and make suggestions regarding prevention and intervention efforts focused on this risky drinking practice.

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