Page last updated: August 2021

Pre-drinking behaviour of people in the night-time economy in New Zealand

Pre-drinking behaviour has grown in prevalence and generates harm for pre-drinkers and others. A study published in the Drug and Alcohol Review investigated where and when pre-drinkers obtain their alcohol; what difference there is in the level of intoxication of pre-drinkers versus non-pre-drinkers and how this difference might vary over the course of a night; and whether the level of intoxication of pre-drinkers is related to where and when they obtain their alcohol.
Data came from a street-intercept survey of 469 respondents conducted in Hamilton, New Zealand in 2019.
The majority of pre-drinkers purchased their alcohol for pre-drinking on the day of consumption and mostly before 6 pm. The average level of intoxication increased over the course of the night, and was unambiguously higher for pre-drinkers than non-pre-drinkers. The level of intoxication did not differ based on the source or timing of pre-drinking purchases. The main motivation for pre-drinking was price, especially among women.
The researchers conclude that pre-drinking is a contributor to intoxication in the night-time economy, but most drinkers purchase their alcohol for pre-drinking before 7 pm. Further research is required to understand whether trading hours restrictions for off-premises alcohol suppliers will affect the most harmful drinking patterns. Price interventions to reduce the price differential between on-licenced and off-licence alcohol outlets offer the greatest potential to reduce pre-drinking and associated harm, they comment.
Source: Cameron MP, Miller PG, Roskruge M. Pre-drinking behaviour of people in the night-time economy: Evidence from a street-intercept survey in New Zealand. Drug Alcohol Rev. 2022 May;41(4):787-794.
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