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The big night out: what happens on the most recent heavy drinking occasion among young Victorian risky drinkers?

Dietze PM, Livingston M, Callinan S, Room R

  • Journal Drug and alcohol review

  • Published 14 Mar 2014

  • Volume 33

  • ISSUE 4

  • Pagination 346-53

  • DOI 10.1111/dar.12117


In spite of the major focus on risky, single-occasion drinking by young people in Australia, little is known about the specific circumstances of risky drinking occasions. This study examines drinking behaviours and drinking contexts for the most recent risky, single-occasion drinking episode in a representative sample of young risky drinkers in Victoria, Australia.

A representative sample of 802 young risky drinkers was recruited across metropolitan Melbourne and surveyed about their drinking and related behaviours. Specific questions focused on participants' most recent high-risk (>10 Australian standard drinks for males, >7 Australian standard drinks for females) drinking occasion in terms of self-reported amount drunk, alcohol expenditure (including buying rounds) and drinking partners for up to 10 different drinking settings.

Participants reported drinking a mean of 13 Australian standard drinks on their last episode of risky, single-occasion drinking; for half of the participants, this occurred less than 20 days prior to being surveyed. The majority (62%) of risky single occasion drinking sessions commenced at private homes in the company of close friends (81%). Around 40% of the sample reported going to one (42%) or two (37%) drinking locations, and only 5% reported going to more than three drinking locations.

Contrary to public portrayals, a significant amount of risky drinking by young people occurs in private settings. These contexts are rarely mentioned except in relation to underage drinking. Further work is needed to understand how these drinking behaviours and contexts link to harm.