High levels of alcohol intoxication and strong support for restrictive alcohol policies among music festival visitors

Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2019 Apr 15;14(1):15. doi: 10.1186/s13011-019-0203-8.


Background: Alcohol intoxication is associated with problems such as violence, injuries, drunk driving and sexual risk-taking, and music festivals are considered a high-risk setting for high levels of alcohol consumption. This study investigates intoxication levels, drinking habits, and opinions on alcohol use and alcohol policies among visitors at one of the largest music festivals in Sweden in 2017.

Methods: A cross-sectional study assessing alcohol intoxication levels was conducted at a music festival (~ 50,000 attendees). Two research teams collected data at the two festival entrances during two nights, from approximately 6:00 pm to 01:30 am. Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels were measured using breath analyzers. A face-to-face questionnaire was used to interview attendees about their alcohol use in the past 12 months using the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test-Consumption (AUDIT-C), as well as about their personal opinions on alcohol use and alcohol policies (statement). BAC levels were compared between categories of various factors using Mann-Whitney U test and Kruskal-Wallis test. The distributions of BAC, AUDIT-C and statement category across gender was analyzed using Pearson's Chi-square tests. Associations of BAC levels with different factors were analyzed using Spearman rank correlation and multinomial logistic regression.

Results: A total of 1663 attendees were randomly selected and invited to participate, and 1410 consented (63.7% men, 34.9% women, age 16-64 years). The proportion of drinkers was 81%. Among the drinkers, the median BAC level was 0.082%. Thirty-one percent of the participants had a BAC level above 0.10%. Forty-two percent of the participants reported binge drinking monthly, and 20% said that they binge drank weekly. Sixty-three percent of participants reported risky drinking habits. A self-reported risky alcohol habit increased the risk of a high alcohol intoxication level at the festival. Respondents were supportive of restrictive alcohol policies. Men had significantly higher BAC levels, reported more often risky alcohol habits and were less supportive of restrictive alcohol policies than women.

Conclusions: The results indicate that participants at music festivals in Sweden have high levels of alcohol intoxication and largely support restrictive alcohol policies. Thus, there is both a need and support for the implementation of alcohol prevention strategies at festivals.

Keywords: AUDIT-C; Alcohol drinking habits; Alcohol intoxication; Alcohol prevention; Blood alcohol concentration (BAC); Gender effects; Large music event; Opinions on alcohol.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / epidemiology*
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / psychology*
  • Binge Drinking / epidemiology
  • Blood Alcohol Content
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Risk Behaviors
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Public Opinion*
  • Public Policy*
  • Sex Factors
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Alcohol Content