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[Drug and Alcohol Findings] (2012) Effectiveness Bank Bulletin. [Alcohol and drug prevention in nightlife settings]. Drug and Alcohol Findings. Drug and Alcohol Findings, 21 Jun

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Alcohol and drug prevention in nightlife settings: a review of experimental studies.
Bolier L., Voorham L., Monshouwer K. et al. Substance Use & Misuse: 2011, 46(13), p. 1569–1591.

In pubs and clubs, especially for young patrons, out-of-control intoxication is sometimes the aim rather than an undesirable outcome to be prevented. How in these circumstances to reduce use and harm has been investigated in the 17 studies analysed in this review.

Summary
Alcohol and drug use is considerably more common than average among people who frequently patronise night-time entertainment venues, and can cause serious problems such as life-threatening alcohol intoxication, overheating and dehydration after ecstasy use, and long-term risks such as addiction, depression, and memory loss. Substance use can also lead to related problems such as traffic accidents, risky sex, sexual assault, and violence.

Offering promising opportunities for intervention, the nightlife environment and its stakeholders play a major role in the exacerbation or reduction of alcohol- and drug-related problems. They affect these problems by, for example, whether they sell drink to minors, serve intoxicated patrons, tolerate drug use, or even, as some door staff have done, supply drugs. Also the physical environment – such as ventilation, ease of access to free water, adequacy of emergency services and equipment, and bar design – greatly affects whether visitors are entering safe and healthy venues.

The featured review aimed to assess the impact of alcohol and drug interventions in licensed premises and nightlife environments, primarily in terms of substance use, but also substance-related problems. It was limited to studies in peer-reviewed journals which mounted and scientifically evaluated an intervention, but embraced research designs which fell short of the 'gold standard' randomised controlled trial, such as those which relied on before and after measures.

In all 17 studies were found reported in 21 papers. All but two concerned alcohol use. Three studies were conducted in Europe, 11 in North America, and three in Australia. The review categorised the interventions as:
• community interventions, all of which involved the wider community through for example media campaigns and advocacy for policy changes, plus training staff in venues and improving law enforcement;
• alcohol server interventions, limited to training venue staff and managers in their legal and other responsibilities for their patrons and giving them the information and skills to fulfil these responsibilities;
• educational interventions, seeking to inform patrons about the general risks of substance use related to leisure-time venues, or the particular risks they faced as individuals; and
• policy interventions, involving heightened and more highly publicised enforcement of relevant laws and regulations and the establishing and implementation of related policies by venue managements.


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