By Andrew Starke

Violence on licensed premises is not the result of drug use according to a new study that found amphetamine and cocaine use amongst the general population of drinkers in NSW is comparatively low.

The Bureau of Crime Statistics & Research (BOCSAR) investigated the level of alcohol and psycho-stimulant use in the Australian population using the 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey after reports suggesting amphetamines and cocaine played a role in nightclub violence.

“Levels of psycho-stimulant (e.g. amphetamine or cocaine) use are comparatively low amongst the general population of drinkers,” said BOCSAR director Dr Don Weatherburn.

“This finding was evident even among those drinkers who reported drinking most frequently and in the most risky manner.”

The 2007 survey involved 23,356 respondents (aged 12 years and over). It is both voluntary and anonymous.

Both the AHA and legal community have previously questioned the influence of drugs in the number of assaults recorded at licensed premises and directly or indirectly blamed on alcohol consumption.

However, only 1.8 percent of daily drinkers reported recent (last 12 months) use of amphetamines. The corresponding figure for cocaine use was 1.5 per cent.

Use of amphetamines and cocaine was higher for those whose drinking placed them at high risk of short term alcohol related harm, with 12.9 per cent reporting recent use of amphetamines and 8.6 per cent reporting recent use of cocaine.

Even amongst this group, however, the vast majority of heavy drinkers were not users of amphetamines or cocaine.

The Bureau did, however, offer a note of caution regarding its findings.

“While the national survey data indicate that the overall proportion of alcohol consumers who are also users of psycho-stimulants is quite low, it is possible that psycho-stimulant use among heavy drinkers on licensed premises is high in some locations even if it is not high among the general population of heavy drinkers,” said Weatherburn.

The Shout Team

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