Research reveals stimulant use linked to intoxication

Posted on: Monday, 27 October 2014

New research has examined the use of alcohol with stimulants (including ecstasy, methamphetamine and energy drinks), revealing those who consume stimulants have higher blood alcohol concentration levels and engage in longer drinking sessions.

The study of patrons attending night-time venues in Melbourne, Sydney, Geelong, Wollongong and Perth found that those who had consumed stimulants were more likely to engage in a range of risky drinking practices.

Turning Point Research Fellow and lead author of the study, Amy Pennay said stimulant users were found to be behaviourally different to alcohol-only consumers.

“We found that those who consumed stimulants engaged in different patterns of drinking to those who only consumed alcohol. Stimulant users were significantly more likely to be male, to have engaged in pre-drinking and to continue drinking after midnight,” Dr Pennay said.

Consumption of energy drinks was also found to affect the types of alcohol consumed.

“Energy drink consumers were significantly more likely to have spent time at nightclubs and consume spirits or shots.”

Dr Pennay said “while it is important to note that stimulant users consumed more alcohol, further analyses revealed the primary predictors of intoxication were pre-drinking, longer drinking sessions and being interviewed after midnight”.

Lead investigator of the study, Associate Prof Peter Miller from Deakin University, also noted the importance of pre-drinking and the length of drinking episode as major predictors of intoxication. He said the findings from this analysis demonstrated the importance again of pre-drinking, as well as simply how long someone has been out and how late at night.

A/Prof Miller also noted the importance of these findings in relation to how long licensed venues trade into the night.

“These findings have substantial policy implications in light of other evidence, showing closing pubs and nightclubs earlier in the night massively reduces alcohol-related harm while costing the community nothing compared to continued late trading, which involves widespread policing and health-related costs to the general public.”

Researchers interviewed patrons over a period of seven months (December 2011 – June 2012) in busy entertainment districts and outside venues with late trading hours.