Alcohol abuse at parties raises concerns
There's no denying that liquor is a big part of all street dances, soca fÍtes, or popularly attended sessions. However, there are concerns about possible alcohol abuse at these events.
Statistics from the 2016 National Drug Prevalence Survey show that 16.3 per cent of the general population between the ages of 12 and 65 was classified as harmful alcohol drinkers.
Cooler fÍtes such as Mugs, I Love Soca, and Baewatch are increasingly popular among partygoers. However, some of these events, according to Uki Atkinson, research analyst at the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA), present opportunities for patrons to overindulge.
"It is widely known that alcohol is the main substance consumed at these events," said Atkinson.
She continued: "It is accurate to say these types of events promote heavy alcohol use as reports indicate that patrons purchase bottles of alcoholic beverages of choice (generally hard liquor versus beer and wine) and share them among peers without monitoring or limiting the consumption."
This type of unlimited access is quite similar to all-inclusive parties as the selling point is an unlimited access to alcoholic cocktails. And even at these all-inclusive events, persons opt to still purchase bottles of high-end liquor.
Atkinson added that there is indeed a 'bottle culture' developing in the party scene.
"It (bottle culture) reflects the must-have or bringing of a bottle to an event, and it is becoming increasingly popular in Jamaica," she said.
The NCDA has received reports of partygoers becoming intoxicated at cooler fÍtes.
"Some patrons at these cooler parties, particularly young adults, experience intoxication that ranges from mild to severe, evidenced by the loss of inhibition, agitation and aggression, vomiting, and loss of consciousness," Atkinson told THE STAR.
NCDA reports from attendees indicate that binge drinking (five or more drinks by males and four or more drinks for females) on a single occasion is commonplace at these parties, with rampant disregard for the legal drinking age of 18 years old.
However, AndrÈ Spaulding, promoter of Mugs, said that there is not much more that the event planners can do.
"At the moment, most, if not all, events partners, with the various brands and sponsors utilise the general slogans to adopt a responsible attitude of alcohol consumption," said Spaulding.
"Mugs, Kode, and many of our events are supported by university students. For this reason, my team and I use the campus campaign slogan 'Level Di Liquor'."
He added that as a result of this, there was a visible change in the behaviour of the patrons, especially at the last staging of Mugs in December.
"Everything is left up to the individual consuming the alcohol. Males and females, equally, need to respect themselves and the brand of liquor they drink by knowing their limit," he said.
The NCDA has sought to sensitise event promoters on the issues and ways to prevent and limit the excessive use of alcohol.
One of the measures being used by the NCDA includes having a booth at events to teach patrons how to 'count your drinks' to avoid high-risk behaviours, intoxication, and associated risks such as impairment in judgement and coordination.
Another suggestion from the research analyst is to have a 'detox hour', where all liquor distribution ceases to encourage patrons to drink water and eat intermittently to remain sober versus drinking alcohol from the start to the end of an event.