Pre-loading’s the problem

Pubs have known this for a long time – people are drinking, and often drinking a lot, before they get to them.

It’s called pre-loading.

Bars can lose their licences and staff face stiff fines if they serve drunks.

It must be hard enough to keep track of what customers drink when you’re serving them, bar staff can have no idea what people might have drunk at home if they aren’t showing signs of being drunk.

If they do suspect they’re drunk they can refuse to serve them and ask them to leave.

Hospitals can’t do that even though dealing with drunks costs them a lot of time and resources and pre-loading is a big part of the problem:

“We knew there was a problem with people turning up to our department with alcohol-related problems; this has confirmed that and it’s even shown that we’re underestimating it,” says professor of emergency medicine at Otago University Dr Mike Ardagh.

The study found alcohol contributed to almost one in three attendances at the hospital’s emergency department between 11pm on Saturday nights and 8am Sunday.

The median number of drinks consumed across alcohol-affected patients was 14 standard units -that’s about two bottles of wine or more than a dozen cans of beer.

The study also found that just 30 percent of that alcohol had been purchased at bars and clubs, with the overwhelming majority – 70 percent – bought at off-license premises such as supermarkets and bottle stores. . .
Dr Scott Pearson has worked in Christchurch Hospital’s emergency department for 15 years. He says alcohol related admissions place an enormous strain on the department – particularly on Saturday nights. . .

“We’d like to see a real public effort to try and reduce the number that are coming here because we’d like to spend that money on other things – things that can contribute to the public’s health in general.”

Increasing prices for at off-licence outlets is one suggestion but that imposes costs on the majority of people who drink moderately.

One problem with existing liquor laws is that people who serve drunks can be charged but the drunks don’t usually face the same risk.

Making drunks who cause problems and costs face the responsibility and be liable for their actions would be a better place to start than increasing taxes.

2 Responses to Pre-loading’s the problem

  1. Stephen says:

    I’m 65 and have been a drinker for many decades. What I have noticed is that 45 years ago the price difference between beer in public bars and the cost of take away beer (from the pub’s wholesale premises) was not very much. Nowadays I buy Heineken for $1.75 per bottle from the supermarket whereas my favourite bar charges $6.50 per bottle. That price difference has risen from about 35% to 371% over the past 5 years. The consequences of that change are well covered in your blog piece.

  2. Andrei says:

    New study highlights Kiwi drinking culture

    More pious hand wringing which in the worst case scenario will lead to politicians trying to do something about it……

    This of course is not exclusively a “Kiwi” cultural problem.

    My eldest is, as you probably have gathered, an ED nurse on the other side of the Tasman – and she gets quite down about this aspect of her job, as you can imagine. We have talked about this together – she tells of getting security guards to shackle patients to their beds before the medical staff will approach them, of assaults by patients on staff, or by their supporters. It is humanity at its worst in the raw. These experiences are universal for ED Nurses wherever you go – Christchurch, Los Angleles, London, Paris, Moscow…….

    What do you want to do, go the Saudi route, public floggings, amputations and beheadings? Not that the degraded of Saudi Arabia are any less degraded than the degraded of NZ, in fact they are probably more debased, more firmly entrenched in the mire.

    Human beings are fallen creatures but made in the image of God, and it is our task to lift ourselves up and to raise others by our example as we do so – none of this is fixable by Government policies and laws which should concentrate on keeping the systems functioning in what is essentially a messy chaotic world

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