Four out of 10 New Zealanders picked up by police had been boozing prior to their arrest, and those who'd hit the bottle had consumed an average of 17 drinks, new police figures show.

The latest New Zealand Arrestee Drug Use Monitoring Programme Report (NZ-ADUM) has found that 41 per cent of people detained by police had been drinking.

The 2013 study of 848 detainees found that the average number of drinks detainees claimed they had consumed increased from 12 in 2010 to 17 last year.

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The number of detainees who reported using methamphetamine prior to their arrest has also increased, doubling in three years to six per cent.

"Police believe there is a close relationship between methamphetamine use and anti-social behaviour and unfortunately this problem is not going away," said assistant police commissioner Malcolm Burgess.

The annual Massey University study, which is optional and confidential, helps police understand the drivers of crime, documents the harm of substance use and helps identify the emergence of new drug types, Mr Burgess said.

The survey participants were interviewed at Whangarei, Auckland Central, Wellington Central and Christchurch Central watch houses.

Mr Burgess said the NZ-ADUM survey provides a valuable snapshot of the relationship between alcohol, drugs and criminal offending.

"We believe the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act which came into effect in December will help us reduce alcohol fuelled crime," he said.

"But we need the community to play their part by adjusting their drinking habits and their expectations around the availability of alcohol."