Why is 'prinking' (that's pre-drinking!) a thing in suburban living rooms?

Young people's lives seem to revolve around alcohol - a far cry from my day, says Colette Sheridan
Why is 'prinking' (that's pre-drinking!) a thing in suburban living rooms?

Too much of our life - especially for young people - revolves around alcohol, says Colette Sheridan. Picture posed by models

LIKE the commonly used term ‘pre-booking’, pre-drinking (or ‘prinking’ as it has been shortened to) is a concept that doesn’t make sense.

Booking a concert or whatever is always done in advance, so what’s the ‘pre’ about?

And going prinking isn’t about nibbling canapés in anticipation of booze later on. It’s getting stuck into alcohol with friends in someone’s house before heading out on the town to venture into pubs.

I gather the serious drinking is the prinks session as it’s cheaper.

Young ones, often students, think they’re being canny with money by not handing over a week’s rent to the bar person serving them, having earlier imbibed in a house.

Worryingly though, some of them drink spirits at these parties. (It’s not as fattening as beer and it’s good for experiencing a quick hit.)

But did the students’ parents not tell their offspring that alcohol is really bad for the developing brain?

Drinking can affect the biological development of young people as well as their academic achievement.

Serious alcohol use among young people has significant neurological consequences. Alcohol damages areas of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

Yet, the idea of drinking all day and into the night recently, by Cork students celebrating their annual ‘college Christmas’ before getting down to exams, seems to have official approval.

Pub staff were facilitating queues outside their premises as early as 7am by making sure they were orderly. I sincerely hope that the students hadn’t been prinking before descending on bars. I mean, they hardly rocked up to suburban living rooms for a few snifters of vodka at 6am, did they?

It’s a far cry from my day when drinking was verboten. I recall nursing a glass of some Godawful ale in a city pub (that shouldn’t have served me) in my Leaving Cert year. I didn’t like the taste of it and kind of forgot about drinking until I hit UCC.

But even there, drinking wasn’t as ingrained in our lives as it is with today’s students, who think nothing of asking a parent to drive them to a house for prinks.

We were not open about our drinking habits. Our parents wouldn’t have approved. Whether we fooled them is a moot point, but certainly, we were not facilitated to drink.

That smell of beer on our clothes was explained away by saying someone spilled it on us.

These days, it seems that parents are cool enough about their kids drinking, often before 18 years of age. They don’t want to repeat their own parents’ war on drink, leading to lies and skulking around the place. It only led to shame and a lack of openness between parents and their offspring.

But, according to Drinkaware.ie, the myth that allowing your child to drink under your supervision is better for them, as they won’t get into trouble, or will be less likely to drink outside the home, is actually just that – a myth.

“In reality, it’s most likely to have the opposite effect.” The young ones are “still more likely to misuse alcohol”.

There is also “the old myth of ‘If I’m too strict about underage drinking, my child will rebel and drink to excess’” but in reality, “teens who consider their parents to be permissive about alcohol use are more likely to abuse alcohol”.

What’s a parent to do? (I grew up in a home that was virtually alcohol- free apart, from when visitors called and the drinks cabinet (a small press heavy on the Waterford Crystal and light on the amount of whisky and gin bottles there) was opened. Yet I developed a drink problem.

Now, a strong coffee is as good as it gets if I want a quick hit! I’d rather go for a hike than endure a prinks party.

Trying to navigate your way around drink and giving advice about it is a minefield.

Young people think they’re invincible, able to burn the candle at both ends without consequences. They might get away with it for a while, but binge drinking rarely ends well. Think black-outs and being assaulted.

The consensus from the HSE and Drinkaware.ie is to keep the lines of communication open for your teenager to talk to you. Parents are advised to educate their kids on the effects of alcohol and how it may affect their mental and physical health.

Research shows that by the time a child reaches five years of age, they have already formed basic attitudes and opinions about alcohol.

The most fundamental attitude towards drink is that it’s a fun thing and that it’s necessary to lubricate social occasions with booze.

But, as us abstainers have learned, that just isn’t true. You really can have a good time without booze. I am now addicted to the clear head every morning.

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