In 2009 the federal government increased taxes on alcopops, this coupled with increased alcohol prices has seen the emergence of a new trend by young people; drugs over alcohol.

Nightclubs and other licensed premises have also put up alcohol prices as they pass on increased liquor and music licensing fees to their customers.

Many of these customers are young students, strapped for cash. They are now swapping a beer for the drug ecstasy as they hit the party scene and nightclubs. Many of the drugs are bought from friends at home and taken into the nightclubs where they are consumed.

According to The Age a 22 year old student said pills were affordable and pre-mixed drinks at music festivals were “sugary” and very expensive. “By the time you’ve had a few drinks you don’t even have enough money left for a bus fare home,” she said.

Professor Jake Najman, director of the University of Queensland’s Alcohol and Drug Research and Education Centre said “A lot of young people are making that choice to switch between alcohol and ecstasy. Pills can be cheaper, there is no question.”

The Australian Bureau of Statistics found that a shot of scotch in a public bar has increased by 25% since 2005. Slabs of heavy beer cost 15% more. Today a Bacardi Breezer alcopop drink cost an average of $10.

On the other hand, drug prices, including ecstasy have fallen 21% across Australia during the same time frame. Although it varies slightly from state to state, the average price of an ecstasy tablet is now about $20, even less if you buy in quantity.

The University of NSW National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre study found that most regular ecstasy users took it to “feel great” from the “high”, the “rush” or the “buzz”.

The Age reported that one Victorian nightclub owner said “If it’s too expensive to buy alcohol they’ll look to different ways to entertain themselves. I’ve had 300 people in the club and there has been fewer than eight people at the bar. People are doing drugs everywhere. It has become normal.”

In Victoria the police are frequenting nightclubs on a more regular basis to try and combat the anti-social behaviour that often accompanies the use of drugs.

Tom Ebinger, Acting Inspector for the Police Drug and Alcohol Strategy Unit in Victoria said they were there “to address the increasing occurrence of anti-social behaviour, alcohol related violence and illicit drug trafficking.”

Writer Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha
Source: The Age