That’s according to the latest findings of independent researcher Simon Christmas for Drinkaware, on the rules and rituals that shape drunkenness in the night-time economy.
Speaking at the alcohol advice charity’s annual conference last week, this year titled ‘Drinkaware 2014 — A Catalyst for Change?’, Christmas revealed the stark realities of young people’s drinking habits, where pre-loading to the point of drunkenness is not simply permitted but actually a “required condition of participation”.
He said the only factor affecting the amount 18 to 24-year-olds drink is licensees policing the drunkenness of punters as they arrive at venues.
“The only check on the amount people are pre-drinking that we encountered was the recognition that you wouldn’t be allowed into venues if you were drunk,” he said.
“It’s not uncommon for people to pre-drink so much that they get a taxi into town and have to go straight home again. But [refusing access] is the one thing that makes young people say ‘we have to manage this’. That’s already something that’s being done by the licensed trade.”
The research — based on interviews and workshops with young people — found that 15% of 18 to 24-year-olds stated they drank alcohol with the specific intention of getting drunk, 40% gave ‘to get drunk’ as a reason for drinking at their chosen venue — and 42% of those that do drink outside the home, drink at home or at a friend’s house first.
Christmas praised the approach of partnership working and said that it is the only way to bring about behavioural change in young people.
“You’ve got to look at what [young people] see in a drunken night out. Obviously other drinkers, but also barstaff and bouncers, the police and ambulance workers, and the way marketing is done. It’s about making sure all those things are coordinated positively to achieve the same effect.”