The study, Patron Offending and Intoxication in Night-Time Entertainment Districts (POINTED) showed that across Australia, after 1am, almost 30 per cent of 6500 patrons tested had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of above 0.1 with the highest averages in Geelong and Perth.
Researchers interviewed almost 7000 patrons between November 2011 to June 2012, and conducted almost 900 hours of observation of patrons in pubs and clubs. Entertainment precincts surveyed included King Street and Prahran in Melbourne, Northbridge in Perth, Kings Cross and Darling Harbour in Sydney and the Wollongong and Geelong night-time entertainment districts
Professor Dan Lubman, from Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre and Monash University said the report detailed the motivations, and drinking behaviours of thousands of mostly young Australians who were out for a night on the town.
“The study identified that most people that were too intoxicated to be in the venue continued to be served alcohol and that those who drink before going out are likely to admit to getting into risky behaviour,” Professor Lubman said.
The surveys were conducted in bars, boutique hotels, beer barns and clubs, with around 6500 patrons agreeing to blood alcohol content (BAC) tests with the national average at 0.54, however, by 4am, more than 35 per cent of the people interviewed were over .10.
Patrons were interviewed about their night, alcohol choices, whether they pre-drank before leaving home, and whether they’d witnessed or had been involved in aggressive or disorderly behavior. They were also asked about their plans for the rest of night including getting home.
An average of 65 per cent reported pre-drinking before going out, but in Geelong and Perth the level was 81 per cent and 80 per cent. The main reason to pre-drink was to save money. Consuming five or six drinks before going to the pub indicated a higher risk of heavy alcohol consumption and risky behaviour, such as drink driving.
The study showed a high propensity for the use of high energy drinks (HED) – either in an alcohol mix or separate, and HED users generally had a higher BAC reading. Most users averaged 3 HEDs by 3am.
Around one in four people are believed to have used drugs. This study was the first of its kind to use drug swabs to validate people’s own reports. It found between one and two people in every five had used drugs. The main drugs admitted to were cannabis, amphetamines and ecstasy.
Australian drinking levels were nowhere near intoxication levels of patrons in the UK in similar studies, where the average BAC reading for females was 0.1 and males 0.13.
Chair of the NDLERF Board, NSW Police Detective Superintendent Tony Cooke, said that the findings added invaluable information for police and governments in dealing with offenders in night-time entertainment precincts.
“While most serious assault and disorderly behaviour incidents and arrests occur outside venues – on the street, in car parks and on public transport – this report shows the areas of alcohol use that can be further addressed either by venue controls, licensing or policing,” Mr Cooke said.
The study was led by Deakin University, in collaboration with Turning Point Drug and Alcohol Centre, Monash University, the Burnet Institute, Curtin University, University of Western Sydney, and University of Wollongong.