In Britain, overnight sales of alcohol lead to a doubling of alcohol related hospital visits.

In response to epidemic levels of binge drinking, disorderly conduct and violence, Britain changed its liquor licensing rules and in November 2005 started to allow the sale of liquor virtually around the clock.

The ideation was that if there was no enforced closure of sales, people would not drink quite so heavily in the period leading up to the previously mandated closing times, and there would be a lesser influx each night of intoxicated people onto the streets at the same time. It sounds sensible in theory, and I don’t know whether crime, violence and disorderly conduct were reduced as a result or not, but one unexpected consequence of the legislative change was that overnight emergency room visits and overnight hospital stays due to alcohol consumption almost doubled in response.

It seems that by increasing the availability of alcohol, people continued to drink more heavily into the night, and a far greater number of people in fact drank to the point that they needed hospitalization. While violence and alcohol always go hand in hand, America has not had the same type of public conduct and violence problems at closing time as Britain has had, and America may want to consider reducing access to alcohol as a way to reduce the number of people who drink alcohol to the point of personal harm each and every night.

If the alcohol runs out, and there is nowhere to buy it, well that’s it for the night for the most part. A seasoned and experienced drunk can always find a bottle, but by reducing access to alcohol, we may be able to reduce the harm done on the population as a whole.

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In response to epidemic levels of binge drinking, disorderly conduct and violence, Britain changed its liquor licensing rules and in November 2005 started to allow the sale of liquor virtually around the clock.

The ideation was that if there was no enforced closure of sales, people would not drink quite so heavily in the period leading up to the previously mandated closing times, and there would be a lesser influx each night of intoxicated people onto the streets at the same time. It sounds sensible in theory, and I don’t know whether crime, violence and disorderly conduct were reduced as a result or not, but one unexpected consequence of the legislative change was that overnight emergency room visits and overnight hospital stays due to alcohol consumption almost doubled in response.

It seems that by increasing the availability of alcohol, people continued to drink more heavily into the night, and a far greater number of people in fact drank to the point that they needed hospitalization. While violence and alcohol always go hand in hand, America has not had the same type of public conduct and violence problems at closing time as Britain has had, and America may want to consider reducing access to alcohol as a way to reduce the number of people who drink alcohol to the point of personal harm each and every night.

If the alcohol runs out, and there is nowhere to buy it, well that’s it for the night for the most part. A seasoned and experienced drunk can always find a bottle, but by reducing access to alcohol, we may be able to reduce the harm done on the population as a whole.

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