NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Alcohol : New review explores the harmful effects of alcohol use in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander context

 ” The review highlights that alcohol use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people needs to be understood within the social and historical context of colonisation, dispossession of land and culture, and economic exclusion.

While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are around 1.3 times more likely to abstain from alcohol than non-Indigenous people, those who do drink alcohol are more likely to experience health-related harms than their non-Indigenous counterparts.

 Furthermore, the evidence presented in this review suggests that effective strategies to address the problem of harmful alcohol use include: alternative activities, brief interventions, treatment and ongoing care; taxation and price controls and other restrictions on availability; and community patrols and sobering up shelters “

The Australian Indigenous Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre (Knowledge Centre) has published a new Review of the harmful use of alcohol among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Read over 188 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Alcohol Articles published over the past 5 years

https://nacchocommunique.com/category/alcohol-and-other-drugs/

The review explores the harmful effects of alcohol use in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander context examining: patterns of use; health impacts; underlying causal factors; policies and interventions to address these impacts; and ways to further reduce harm.

View in Full Here

This review will help to inform, support and educate those working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in Australia.

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Key facts

The Australian context

  • Harmful use of alcohol is a problem for the Australian community as a whole. It is estimated that in 2011, alcohol caused 5.1% of the total burden of disease in Australia.
  • The social cost of all drug use in Australia in 2004–05 was estimated at $55.2 billion ($79.9 billion in 2016 dollars), with alcohol alone contributing 27.3%, and alcohol combined with illicit drugs adding a further 1.9%.

Extent of alcohol use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

  • Alcohol use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people needs to be understood within the social and historical context of colonisation, dispossession of land and culture, and economic exclusion.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are about 1.3 times more likely to abstain from alcohol than non-Indigenous people.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at least 1.2 and 1.3 times more likely to consume alcohol at levels that pose risks to their health over their lifetimes and on single drinking occasions than non-Indigenous people.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men are more than twice as likely as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to consume alcohol at risky levels.

Health impacts of alcohol use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

  • Excessive alcohol consumption poses a range of health risks – both on single drinking occasions and over a person’s lifetime, including alcoholic liver disease, behavioural disorders, assault, suicide and transport accidents.
  • In NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT from 2010–2014 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and females died from conditions solely caused by alcohol more frequently than non-Indigenous males and females (4.7 and 6.1 times respectively).
  • The overall rate of suicide among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2015 was 2.1 times higher than among non-Indigenous people. For the period 2011–2015, 40% of male suicides and 30% of female suicides were attributable to alcohol use.
  • There is strong qualitative evidence linking alcohol and other drug (AOD) use and poor mental health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Age standardised rates of hospitalisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the years 2012–13, 2013–14 and 2014-15 were 2.7, 2.3 and 2.4 times those of non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2011, alcohol accounted for an estimated 8.3% of the overall burden of disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians; a rate 2.3 times higher than among non-Indigenous people.
  • In addition to harms to health, high levels of alcohol use can contribute to a range of social harms, including child neglect and abuse, interpersonal violence, homicide, and other crimes.

Policies and strategies

  • Initial responses to the concerns about harmful alcohol use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the 1970s were driven not by governments but by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people themselves who recognised that non-Indigenous mainstream responses were non-existent or largely culturally inappropriate.
  • The level of harm caused by alcohol in any community is a function of complex inter-relationships between the availability of alcohol, and levels of individual wellbeing and social conditions that either protect against or predispose people or groups to harmful levels of consumption.
  • As well as addressing the consequences of harmful levels of alcohol consumption, policies and intervention strategies must also address the underlying causal relationships. In the case of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people this means addressing social inequality.
  • As part of the current Australian Government’s Indigenous advancement strategy (IAS), a number of programs are in place that aim to address social inequality and the broad social determinants of harmful alcohol use.
  • Government policy documents most directly relevant to the minimisation of alcohol-related harm among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the National drug strategy 2017–2026 (NDS) and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ drug strategy 2014–2019 (NATSIPDS).
  • The National drug strategy 2017–2026 provides a tripartite approach to reducing the demand for and supply of alcohol, and the immediate harms its causes.
  • There is a strong evidence base for the effectiveness of a range of interventions including: alternative activities, brief interventions, treatment and ongoing care; taxation and price controls and other restrictions on availability; and community patrols and sobering-up shelters.
  • Government programs to address Aboriginal and Torres Islander inequality have been in place since the 1970s – what is now the National Drug Strategy was introduced in 1985. While there have been some improvements, as evidenced by various Government reports, progress has been slow and while there have been increases in funding these have not been sufficient to meet need.
  • There is evidence that – provided with adequate resourcing – the culturally safe services provided by community-controlled organisations result in better outcomes. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be key players in the design and implementation of interventions to address harmful alcohol use in their own communities, with capacity building within Aboriginal community-controlled organisations a central focus.
  • The way forward is for Australian Governments to honour the commitments made in the NATSIPDS to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to resource interventions on the basis of need.

HealthInfoNet Director, Professor Neil Drew says ‘The latest review, written by Professor Dennis Gray and colleagues from the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI) in Western Australia, is a vital new addition to our suite of knowledge exchange resources.

It makes the large body of evidence available in a succinct, evidence-based summary prepared by world renowned experts.

This delivers considerable time savings to a time poor workforce striving to keep up to date in a world where the sheer weight of new information can often seem overwhelming.

I am delighted to release this important new resource to support the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander alcohol and other drug (AOD) sector.’

The review highlights that alcohol use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people needs to be understood within the social and historical context of colonisation, dispossession of land and culture, and economic exclusion.

While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are around 1.3 times more likely to abstain from alcohol than non-Indigenous people, those who do drink alcohol are more likely to experience health-related harms than their non-Indigenous counterparts.

Furthermore, the evidence presented in this review suggests that effective strategies to address the problem of harmful alcohol use include: alternative activities, brief interventions, treatment and ongoing care; taxation and price controls and other restrictions on availability; and community patrols and sobering up shelters.

http://aodknowledgecentre.net.au/aodkc/alcohol/reviews/alcohol-review

This review will help to inform, support and educate those working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in Australia.

 

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