Late night revellers in Wollongong's CBD have among the highest intoxication levels in the country, according to a report on Australian drinkers released yesterday.
About 7000 drinkers at licensed premises in five cities - including Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Geelong - were surveyed from November 2011 to June 2012.
As part of the study, patrons' blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) readings were taken hourly from 9pm to 3am, with Geelong patrons recording an average reading over that time of 0.067.
The average BAC for Wollongong and Perth patrons was just under, at 0.066 - double the average figure of 0.033 for Sydney's drinkers.
The University of Wollongong's Centre for Health Initiatives was a major collaborator in the Patron Offending and Intoxication in Night-Time Entertainment Districts (POINTED) report.
Wollongong researchers interviewed some 730 patrons and observed hundreds more in and around the city's pubs, clubs and boutique hotels over a two-week period.
Project manager Lance Barrie said while Wollongong fared better than the other cities in areas including illicit drug use and aggression, the levels of intoxication in the city were concerning.
"The higher blood-alcohol concentration they have, the more likely patrons are to be involved with alcohol-related aggression, personal injury or violence," he said.
"In the Wollongong area, there was a significantly high amount of intoxication in licensed venues - we were higher than the national average [of 0.054] in terms of blood-alcohol levels."
Mr Barrie said one of the major findings of the study was the high level of "pre-drinking".
About 80 per cent of Geelong and Perth patrons loaded up on alcohol before going out, compared to 60 per cent of Wollongong patrons.
"The report showed that pre-drinking is a major problem in terms of responsible service of alcohol from venue staff," Mr Barrie said.
"In observations undertaken in Wollongong, a lot of people who were heavily intoxicated were still getting served at licensed premises."
The study also noted the use of high-energy drinks.
"Those who drink high-energy drinks - either on their own or in an alcohol mix - generally stay out for longer, consume a lot more alcohol and the risk of alcohol-related harm is dramatically increased," Mr Barrie said.
Geelong, Melbourne and Sydney saw similar frequencies of suspected substance use, ranging from 28 to 31 per cent. Wollongong and Perth saw relatively low frequencies of drug use at 8 and 6 per cent respectively.
Meanwhile, 11 per cent of Wollongong patrons reported involvement in verbal, physical or sexual aggression in night-time entertainment areas in the three months prior to the survey. The national average was 17 per cent.
Mr Barrie said the report showed the areas of alcohol use that could be further addressed through venue controls, licensing or policing.
Its major recommendations include stopping the sale of high-energy drinks from 10pm, ceasing alcohol sales in venues an hour before closing and banning bulk-discount alcohol deals.