This paper aims to report the occurrence of preloading within a Gold Coast sample; collected in early February of 2015. The report is based on a sub-study of ‘Smart Start - A Preloading Project’ which ran predominantly in the Brisbane CBD between August, 2014 to late February, 2015. Three sub-studies have been completed from the Smart Start project, including Gold Coast, Mackay, and Melbourne Cup. Generally, the aim of the Smart Start project is to assess:
- Who is preloading
- Where they are preloading
- Type of preloading
- How much they are preloading
- What motivates people to preload
- Participants’ experiences of negative physical, psychological, and social consequences when preloading
- Participants’ perception of level of intoxication (i.e., Blood Alcohol Content – BAC reading) after preloading; and
- Levels of intoxication after preloading via recorded BAC readings
An important first step in understanding the phenomenon of preloading is to operationalise it. For the purposes of the Smart Start project, preloading was defined as drinking, taking drugs (illicit), or mixing energy drinks with alcohol (MEDA) before heading out to licensed entertainment venues (i.e., pubs, bars, or clubs) in the CBD of a city. Further to this, it is important to note that eating out at restaurants and frequenting a local bar or similar establishment were included amongst the places where people could have preloaded.
In consideration of this definition, it was deemed important to expand the scope of our Smart Start project to include another popular night- time entertainment district to inspect similarities, differences, and any unique location driven findings. In Queensland, the Gold Coast CBD is known for its night-life. According to the Queensland Government’s Drink Safe Precinct trial, Cavill and Orchid Avenue have the largest concentration of licensed premises in Queensland (Queensland Government Publications, 2014). In addition to this, on Friday and Saturday nights it has been reported that more than 30,000 people visit Surfers Paradise precinct (Queensland Government Publications, 2014). Therefore, it was considered important to investigate preloading
practices within the Gold Coast given its popularity as a night-time entertainment district. Additionally, results retrieved from the sub- study can help identify variables which may need implementing in future initiatives for reducing alcohol and drug related harm in the city’s entertainment district.