So much for maturing as we get older…
The Alcohol Research Group at the University of Sheffield has found that nearly one in every four (23%) adults over the age of 35 are prone to stoke up on alcohol before they leave home for a night out and make room for a nightcap or two (or three) when they return later in the evening.
The habit of ‘pre-loading’ is usually associated with financially challenged younger people who feel the need to consume the bulk of their alcohol in the form of cheaper, shop-bought drinks at home before venturing into expensively priced bars and clubs.
In the case of the older drinkers, however, this is more likely to be a bottle of wine shared before going to dinner with friends and a nightcap afterwards or a “stiffener” or two before going out to a Sunday lunch and some beers in the garden afterwards.
Though the context seems more sedate, perhaps even idyllic, the resulting consumption of alcohol is comparable to some of the binge drinking that plagues the nightspots and city centre venues where younger people gather.
The research team interviewed over 60,000 people about their drinking in the week prior to interview. Between them the entire sample group identified around 190,000 drinking ‘occasions’ they had indulged in within the previous seven days. An average of more than three times a week.
Over half of these occasions were based at home (56%), 14% were characterised as ‘drinking alone’ and 29% drinking at home with a partner.
Using the estimated consumption admitted to by the sample group (probably somewhat lower than the actual figure) the researchers found that even stay at home couples (both men and women) claimed to consume an average of 11.6 units of alcohol when drinking heavily with each other.
10% of the respondents admitted to drinking ‘heavily’ both at home and in a pub on the same occasion.
The national guidelines for alcohol intake recommend the consumption of fewer than 14 units per week for both men and women and that to be spread over three or more days.
That would be the approximate equivalent of six glasses of wine, beer or lager a week.
From the results of the Sheffield team’s survey, this limit looks decidedly under threat by our drinking habits; even drinking one at home, one out and one when we get back, if repeated three times a week would be 150% of the guide limit, perhaps without even noticing.
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