Loading up on packaged alcohol before going out to licensed venues is common among Victorian drinkers, who are also drinking between venues and on returning home after a night out.
A VicHealth survey of more than 2000 Victorians identified the three types of drinking, dubbed pre-loading (before going to a licensed venue), side-loading (between venues) and post-loading (after returning home).
Researchers asked people who had bought liquor from a bottle shop in the past year about their drinking patterns and found 42 per cent of those surveyed had engaged in some form of loading. One-in-three drinkers had pre-loaded (28 per cent) and one in four had either side-loaded (24 per cent) or back-loaded (23 per cent). One-in-10 drinkers had engaged in all three types of loading.
VicHealth chief executive Jerril Rechter said the practice of loading up on alcohol was concerning with links to aggressive behaviour, accidents and injuries.
''There isn't much information about exactly how much alcohol is consumed in Victorian homes, so we were concerned to find one-in-10 people in our survey drink before and after they go out, as well as in between venues,'' she said.
''Evidence shows that if you take a 'traveller' or have a few before or after you're out, you're much more likely to suffer verbal or physical abuse or wind up in a situation where you fear for your safety,'' she said.
The research, to be presented at the Australian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs conference in Brisbane on Monday, found pre-loading was most popular among women aged 18 to 24.
Men aged 45 to 59 favoured post-loading, while side-loading was most popular among 25 to 39-year-olds of both genders.
Researcher Bruce Bolam said loading was heavily associated with binge drinking and highlighted some of the harms that could result from packaged liquor. ''Police blue lights tend to go on outside licensed premises but what our research shows is that some of those callouts are the result of people engaging in loading,'' he said.
Previous research has linked a high density of packaged liquor outlets to higher levels of alcohol-related violence.
Dr Bolam said communities should be given more of a say on liquor outlets where there were concerns, and called for a broader conversation on alcohol. ''Most people enjoy alcohol responsibly as part of their lives and we all recognise there are harms associated with it but we tend to think the problem is someone else's,'' he said.