Introducing a minimum price on alcohol would reduce drinking for a core group of people who consume more than 24 standards drink a day, say researchers.
The latest study in The New Zealand Medical Journal found that some dependant drinkers would not be able to afford to maintain their drinking habits if there was a minimum price for alcohol.
Last year a Ministry of Justice report explored the possibility of a minimum price of $1.00 to a $1.20 per standard drink in New Zealand, but recommended it should be delayed.
The study involved 115 Aucklanders from detox clinics and showed participants spent about $25 on alcohol daily.
Almost half (41 percent) of people surveyed said they would not buy essentials if they did not have money for alcohol.
One of the authors of the study Dr Grant Christie said the heaviest drinkers also bought the cheapest alcohol.
"Those spending a dollar or less per standard drink, drank a mean of 29 standard drinks and a median of 30 standard drinks per day. This is significantly more than those spending more than a dollar per standard drink who drank a mean of 21.5."
He said there was minimal evidence drinkers would turn to non-beverage alcohol, such as methylated spirits, or criminal activity to access alcohol if it became unaffordable.
Five people were excluded from the study because they were too drunk to take part.