Over-35s are the new binge drinkers and are rampant pre-drinkers ("prinkers") before big nights out, new research shows.
The study, published in the journal Addiction, found 30-somethings regularly reach the recommended weekly alcohol limit of 14 units on a single night out and are "loading" drinks before and after visits to pubs, restaurants and clubs in a bid to beat higher booze prices.
Alcohol Research UK said the study showed that people cannot be "neatly divided between binge, heavy or moderate drinkers".
The research asked 60,000 people about their drinking in the previous week and found 23 per cent had drunk heavily both at home and elsewhere in one night.
Almost half of the 190,000 drinking sessions the group examined showed moderate consumption.
It also found half of family and friend meet-ups carried a higher risk of increased drinking, and that even couples who tend to stay at home and drink on the weekend are having an average of 11.6 units each.
John Holmes, of Sheffield University’s Alcohol Research Group, which led the study, said: "We talk of young people pre-loading but it’s also an issue in older age groups.
"For those in middle-age, it’s probably not drinking before going out and tearing up the town.
"But it leads to them consuming the same amount as younger age groups, which obviously affects their health long-term if they’re doing it regularly."
In January, the recommended weekly alcohol intake for both men and women was set at 14 units - previously it was 14 units per week for women but a higher 21 units per week for women.