Canberra has a substantial problem with alcohol-related harm, especially on weekends, that is putting pressure on emergency departments, new data has shown.
The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine has released findings from Canberra and Calvary hospitals collected over a three-month period earlier this year.
All adult patients were asked whether they drank alcohol before their attendance, where they bought the alcohol and the location of their last drink.
On Friday and Saturday nights 16 per cent of patients at Calvary Public Hospital and 14 per cent of patients at Canberra Hospital were there because of alcohol use, the findings said.
The report said it showed dangerous levels of drinking (more than two standard drinks on each occasion) was pervasive across the ACT community, regardless of age and gender, although men were more likely to drink at dangerous levels.
Clinicians at Calvary also asked about illicit drug use, which accounted for just 1 per cent of presentations.
The most commonly reported venues people were at before needing to go to an emergency department were Mooseheads, Mr Wolf, PJ O'Reilly's, The Dock, Manuka Oval and Vikings Club in Erindale.
About half the people attending both emergency departments who had reported drinking alcohol had purchased it from supermarkets and bottle shops.
The college's president Simon Judkins said the data showed the disproportionate harm caused by alcohol and the need for reform.
The data was collected as part of the ongoing Driving Change project, led by Professor Peter Miller at Deakin University.
In addition to Canberra emergency departments, there are participating hospitals in Melbourne, Geelong, Sydney and Warrnambool.
"What it clearly shows is Canberra has a very substantial problem when it comes to alcohol and there is a substantial burden on emergency services," he said.
He said the study was based on a project in Cardiff, Wales, that helped the city reduce alcohol related violence.
Professor Miller said if the rate of alcohol harm could not be fixed with a cooperative approach between health services, police, government and venues, interventions should be considered.
Possible interventions include a violent venues register, earlier last drinks and reducing the number of liquor outlets allowed in the community. "ACT has some rules that probably could be tightened up," he said.
The ACT government backed away from proposed liquor reform laws before the 2016 election in the face of significant backlash. It does not appear to have plans to implement anything similar in the near future.
It ruled out making changes to last drinks times or hiking up fees for clubs that stayed open past 3am. It also dropped plans to substantially increase fees for large liquor stores.
Dr Judkins said the data showed last drinks should be called earlier.
"It's very hard to justify that you need to have alcohol for people to consume almost 24 hours a day. If you're feeling the need to consume excessive alcohol at three or four or five in the morning then you've got a problem with alcohol. We need to curb that excessive alcohol culture," he said.
He said venues needed to realise there was on onus of responsibility on them.
"When people leave at three in the morning they're not just going home and tucking themselves into bed - some are ending up in the hospital," Dr Judkins said.
"People need to be aware of the fact that we're not just talking about intoxicated people falling over and hurting themselves, this often involves violence."
He said there were often links between significant events and the increase in harm caused by alcohol, such as the spring racing carnival in Melbourne.
Dr Judkins called for a national alcohol strategy to reduce the harm.
"It simply does not make sense that emergency departments around the nation are struggling with the impact of alcohol presentations on overcrowding and access block and yet we are still waiting to see a national alcohol strategy developed," he said.
Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said the government was committed to having a regulatory regime that supported Canberra businesses and helped develop the community's night life, while ensuring public safety.
"We work closely with ACT Policing and licensees to make sure the ACT's nightlife precincts are safe for the whole community," he said.
"The ACT operates a risk-based licence fee scheme, with higher fees based on a range of factors including the type of venue, opening hours, occupancy levels and liquor sales."