Understanding the characteristics of drug users in the night-time economy (NTE), and whether particular drugs are associated with risky practices and experience of harm, is necessary to inform targeted policy responses in this context.
To investigate the correlates of drugs used in the Australian NTE relating to demographics, alcohol use, and experience of harm.
Patrons were interviewed in the NTE of five Australian cities in 2012-2013 (n = 7,028; 61.9% male, median age 22 years). A custom designed survey gathered demographic data, alcohol, and substance use on the current night, and experience of harm in/around licensed venues in the past 3 months. Multivariate logistic regression analyses examined the correlates of drug use.
Ecstasy was most commonly reported (4.0%), followed by cannabis (2.9%), methamphetamine (2.6%), and cocaine (1.6%). Ecstasy users were more likely to be younger and report energy drink consumption. Cannabis users were more likely to be male, and to have been involved in intoxication-related accidents/injuries and sexual aggression in/around licensed venues in the past 3 months. Methamphetamine users were more likely to have been interviewed later, and to have engaged in pre-drinking. Cocaine users were more likely to be male, aged 21 years or more, have a blood alcohol concentration of greater than 0.10%, and to have been involved in intoxication-related accidents/injuries in the past three months. Conclusions/Importance: We identified significant differences between types of drug users and the harms they experience, underscoring the need to develop innovative harm reduction policies in the NTE rather than blanket population-based approaches.