YOUNG people, booze, drugs and violence - it's a pattern Ross Thompson knows well.
The Queensland Homicide Victims' Support Group general manager, who lost his son in a triple Toowoomba murder in 2005, said alcohol and drugs were deadly weapons.
"Alcohol is part of the fault, but drugs seem to be raising its ugly head now more so than anything," he said.
"A lot of the people don't realise that these young kids who are going out clubbing are still not mature.
"The adult male doesn't really mature until he's 26-27, the testosterone in their bodies is through the roof and when you start mixing drugs and alcohol, that is an issue."
University of Queensland Alcohol and Drug Research and Education Centre director Professor Jake Najman said regional and rural Australians were particularly susceptible to alcohol-fuelled violence.
"The actual amount of alcohol consumption in rural and regional Australia is higher than it is in the cities," Prof Najman said.
"And the other thing that matters is in some regional and remote areas there may be fewer things to do.
"And so alcohol may be more of a central part of young men's lives out there."
He said the culture of binge-drinking was finding new victims.
"The main change is we're starting to see young women drink like young men," he said.
"What is likely to happen is that they will continue to drink and continue to engage in violent and aggressive behaviour."
Communication keeps us safe
TALKING and planning ahead are the keys to staying safe on a big night out.
Police and health experts from Queensland and New South Wales said family and friends played a big role in lowering booze-fuelled violence.
Mental and emotional health expert Rowena Hardy, a partner in the nationwide change specialist organisation Minds Aligned, revealed the signs people needed to look out for.
"Pay attention to the type and number of drinks the person is consuming and the speed of consumption in any given period to avoid binge drinking," Ms Hardy said.
"Be aware of any desire on the part of the person to pick arguments or fights or do anything which may aggravate others and cause that reaction from others.
"Notice any changes in speech, thought patterns and reaction time which are all indicators that the brain is slowing down from the impact of the alcohol resulting in less rational thinking and emotional control."
Northern Rivers Social Development Council chief executive Tony Davies said safety was paramount.
"The advice is to look at what plans you make around being safe or ensuring people you are with that are affected by alcohol or other drugs are safe," Mr Davies said.
"Ensure people have plans in place to get home.
"Make sure there are people who are designated to be responsible and there are people to look after each other.
"It's particularly important that people stay together, that they don't leave an intoxicated friend behind at a nightclub, that they actually think about their own and their friend's safety."
Queensland Safe Night Out Strategy executive responsible officer Assistant Commissioner Mike Condon said parents played an important role.
"I would support parents - I think in the main parents are talking to their children about going out, because we all want our children and our loved ones to come home safely," he said.
What the experts say about avoiding booze-fuelled violence
Northern Rivers Social Development Council chief executive Tony Davies
- Put safety first and make sure there is a designated "responsible" member of the party to ensure everyone arrives home in one piece.
Mental and emotional health expert Rowena Hardy
- Watch how much your mate is drinking.
Queensland Safe Night Out Strategy executive responsible officer Assistant Commissioner Mike Condon said
- parents should talk to their kids.
- APN NEWSDESK
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