Alcohol Abuse Cases In Aboriginal Communities Essay


Discuss about the Alcohol Abuse Cases in Aboriginal Communities.



The problem of alcohol abuse is chronic among Indigenous communities living in Australia especially Torres State Islander communities. The moderate use of alcohol is within 30 g ethanol/d in case of men and 15 g/d in the case of women and these can be considered to be acceptable without having negative health and social effects ( Poli et al, 2013) . However excessive intake of alcohol causes significant harm. The Alcohol abuse is a major risk factor in the occurrence of different types of cardio-vascular diseases, stroke, liver cirrhosis and cancers (WHO, 2014). Thus it is responsible for lots of morbidity and mortality among all populations including Torres State Islander Aboriginal communities (Brett et al, 2017). The Alcohol abuse has also been found to be associated with domestic violence and family breakdown among Torres State Islander Aboriginal communities ( Ramamoorthi et al, 2014 ). The Alcohol abuse among these communities also creates a contributing environment to instigate them for antisocial behaviour and other criminal activities (Rothman, 2014). Alcohol abuse during pregnancy is also very harmful for the developing foetus and the babies could be born with diseases such as fetal alcohol syndrome (Grant et al, 2014).

Torres Strain Islanders are the group of indigenous people who mainly belong to the culture of the Melanesians and are much similar to the inhabitants of the Papua New Guinea islands. Often researchers consider them to be different from the other aboriginal group of people living in Australia. Although they are found to engage themselves inter marriages and different types of histological trades thy conduct with the mainland aboriginal people, they are generally refereed to as different. Nearby the cost of the mainland, two different types of Torres Islander people are observed. They are Bernaga and also Seisia.

The 2011 Australian census figures state that the total population level residing in theTorres strait Island are found to be 4248 out of which 3856 are actually Torres strait islanders. Alcohol Abuse Statistics had stated many valuable information from the reaserches conducted under the 2008 NATSISS, where information was collected on different modes of alcohol consumption. The survey estimated that about 73 percent of indigenous people consumed alcohol in the past one year and over half of them consumed alcohol in past 2 weeks. Therefore just one quarter of them were not taking alcohol from past one year (ABS 2010). On close analysis of the data provided by NATSIHS, that a really high number of non –indigenous people had consumed alcohol than the number of indigenous people in the last year. The standardized data based on age revealed that Indigenous populations had 0.7 times fewer odds of consuming alcohol over the past one week before the survey in comparison to non-Indigenous populations (ABS 2010). The survey also showed variations by gender and region. The prevalence of alcohol consumption is found to be lower in indigenous females as compared to indigenous males. During the survey, it was found that about 30 % of indigenous people had successfully abstained form alcohol in comparison to that of 17% of males in the indigenous groups who were also abstaining from alcohol consumption in the last year before the survey was conducted. Moreover the data also provided an interesting outlook where it was shown that alcohol consumption by indigenous people in the remote areas were far less when comparison was done with same kind of people in the non remote areas. About 38% of adults in the remote areas tried to avoid alcohol consumption in comparison to that of 19% of adults belonging to indigenous communities residing in the non remote regions in the past year of the survey.

Also the NATSISS data found that 17 percent of 15 + years aged Indigenous people were consuming alcohols at a risky level that may put them to a long-term risk of diseases (ABS 2010). The gender-wise consumption of high-risk levels alcohol was 20 percent in men as compared to 14 percent in women. Moreover indigenous persons in young age-groups were more seen to indulge to high risk levels of alcohol; that too in the age-groups of 35-44 years. This is followed by age-cohort of 25-34 years (ibid). Also about 63 percent of indigenous people, who were taking in alcohol at the risky rate, were also found to undertake smoking pleasures. Moreover, it was also found that 37% of the cohort who were taking alcohol at a high risk was also found to be associated with illicit drug taking habits. Moreover in comparisons, to that of the non indigenous males, the likelihood of males of the indigenous backgrounds was found to be 1.7 times higher. In case of the females, it was found that indigenous females were taking alcohol at a greater rate than the non indigenous people ranging to about 1.4 times higher.

The NATSISS data also reported on short-term risky drinking habits or binge drinking among men and women. The data found that about 37 percent of indigenous people consumed higher levels of isk of alcohol during 2 weeks before to the survey. Also about 46 percent of males were involved in binge drinking as compared to 28 percent of females. Moreover binge drinking was found to be highly associated with the habits of high level daily smoking i.e. 59 percent as compared to 33 percent for low risk drinkers (ibid). The substance abuse in high-risk percent as compared to 33 percent for low risk drinkers (ibid). The substance abuse in high-risk binge drinkers was 32 percent as compared to 18 percent in low-risk drinkers. Also the NATSIHS survey 2004- 05 reported that prevalence of high risk binge drinking was more in the category of the indigenous Australians in comparison to that of the non- indigenous categories of people. Another interesting fact that was also found is that the adults of the indigenous people are about more than 1.2 times more seen to drink at short intervals as well as higher risk level when comparison was done with the non- indigenous adults.

There were also gender-wise differences. Indigenous males were two times more likely to involve in high-risk binge drinking as compared to non-indigenous males. Moreover indigenous females were three times more likely to involve in high-risk binge drinking as compared to non-indigenous females (ibid). Moreover when researchers pondered upon the age wise data, they saw that the indigenous people overall had a greater tendency towards the habit of binge eating in comparison to that of the individuals of the non indigenous category. There were also variations by region. The 2004-05 NATSIHS survey found the indigenous adults who are residing in the remote areas of Australian (about 23%) are more prone towards the indulgence in the high risk behaviour of the binge drinking when comparison was done with same category of people living in the non remote areas where the percentage was found to be 18%. The survey has also found that indulgence in alcohol abuse among indigenous populations has increased from 47 percent in 2002 to 51 percent in the year of 2008.

A large number of different types of health effects often remain associated with alcohol abuse. Alcohol has long-lasting effects on brain as it hampers the functioning of neurotransmitters in the brain. The long term use of alcohol may change the structure of brain resulting in changes in our thinking and behaviour. The alcohol also affects our learning and memory skills; and also our emotions and personality ( Hermens et al, 2013) . The researchers have found definite changes in structures of brain due to alcohol abuse including shrinking of brain tissues (ibid) . The effects of alcohol on cardiovascular system are also profound. It weakens the muscles of heart causing alcoholic cardiomyopathy (Whitman et al, 2015). The long-term use of alcohol or binge drinking at risky levels may result in cardiac arrhythmias, ventricular tachycardia, strokes, and hypertension (ibid). The alcohol abuse may result in alcoholic hepatitis characterized by nausea, abdominal pain, appetite loss, fever and mental confusion. Prolonged use may also result in jaundice, cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure ( Gustot et al, 2017) . The alcohol abuse may also lead to pancreatitis and thus causing impaired digestion as well as impaired blood sugar levels (Herreros-Villanueva, 2013). Moreover National Cancer Institute (NCI) has identified alcohol as a risk factor for various types of cancers including oral cancer, oesophageal cancer, pharyngeal cancer, laryngeal cancer, liver cancer and also breast cancer (Printz, 2016). Alcohol addiction thereby has resulted in the development of a allege number of physical as well as mental ailments which not only prevent them from enjoying a good life but also makes them exposes to larger financial flow which becomes very difficult for them due to their lesser chances to earn very high amount due to discriminations. Therefore, it is very important to prevent them from practicing such bad habits so that they can lead better quality lives.

The different social determinants of health that remain associated with the development of alcohol addiction and alcohol abuse are needed to be discussed in the context. Often researchers have defined the different social determinants of health as the environmental and social factors that affect the well-being and healthiness of the community, individual and family (McMurray, Clendon, & Ebook Library, 2015). The material and social world around us plays a very important role in susceptibility or resistance to disease agents or risk factors. There are situations that place individuals at a much higher risk. The different factors that often make an individual addicted to alcohol is not always individual choice. Different factors that often lead to such effects are different types of adverse environmental surroundings, development o culture form the early childhood, financial turmoil, emotional turmoil’s, hereditary signs and symptoms of alcohol use and many others. Large numbers of social factors are also stated by researchers to be contributing to alcohol abuse and addiction in the category of people. These include economic and social marginalisation; material disadvantages, social and economic discrimination at policy level , cultural dispossession and difficulties in cultural assimilation, family conflict or social conflict, violence at the level of family or community, and family history of alcohol misuse ( Zubrick et al, 2010 ). Social exclusion which usually reslt from various factors like those from racism stigmatization , sexual identity, and also about physical appearance, poverty and even hostility also seen to play crucial role in the degradation of health as well as in alcohol abuse behavior of communities ( Gazis, Connor & Ho, 2010). On the other hand social support promotes a feeling of belonging and increases selfesteem and thus reduces the likelihood of indulgence in risky behaviours. A reduction in alcohol remains associated with the improvement of the overall health and the wellbeing of people. They also increase levels of household income, educational achievement and decrease the percenatge of crime, imprisonment and sililar such adverse events (SCRGSP 2007b). Summary – The alcohol abuse problem is widely prevalent among indigenous people of Torres State Islands. Although the prevalence is more in males as compared to females, but both the genders have increased likelihood of taking high risky levels of alcohol as compared to non-indigenous people.

Excessive drinking of alcohol leads to various health issues which include cardiomyopathy, liver cancer, hepatitis, pancreatitis, liver failure and various cancers. The alcohol related domestic violence and indulgence in criminal activities is also widely prevalent. The various social determinants of alcohol abuse among these communities include social exclusion, poverty, racism, and stigmatization. These people have no opportunities for social mobilization, which should be provided. There is a need to mobilize these communities by providing them educational and occupational opportunities. Communities could be empowered by forming self-help groups among them and providing social support from outside. Thus addressing the structural determinants of alcohol abuse may best help addressing the problem effectively.

There is an urgent need to provide education to women and children who could individually help the man to be also educated and encourage them to participate in health promotion programs. There is a need to form different unions like women self-help groups and also for self-help groups for men, schools for children, adult education and social support. The communities of Torres State Island as such need to be included in the mainstream social and economic life of Australia.


ABS 2006. National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey 2004–05. ABS cat. no. 4715.0. Canberra: ABS. ABS 2010. National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey: users’ guide, 2008. ABS cat. no. 4720.0. Canberra: ABS. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (31 October 2012)

"Torres Strait Islands" . 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 19 June 2014. Brett, J., Dawson, A., Ivers, R., Lawrence, L., Barclay, S., & Conigrave, K. (2017). Healing at home: Developing a model for ambulatory alcohol " detox" in an Aboriginal community controlled health service. International Journal of Indigenous Health, 12(1), 24-38.

Gazis, N., Connor, J. P., & Ho, R. (2010). Cultural identity and peer influence as predictors of substance use among culturally diverse Australian adolescents. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 30(3), 345-368. Grant, T., Graham, J. C., Ernst, C. C., Peavy, K. M., & Brown, N. N. (2014). Improving pregnancy outcomes among high-risk mothers who abuse alcohol and drugs among high-risk mothers who abuse alcohol and drugs: Factors associated with subsequent exposed births. Children and Youth Services Review, 46, 11-18.

46, 11-18. Gustot, T., Fernandez, J., Szabo, G., Albillos, A., Louvet, A., Jalan, R., ... & Moreno, C. (2017). Sepsis in Alcohol-related Liver Disease. Journal of Hepatology. Hermens, D. F., Lagopoulos, J., Tobias-Webb, J., De Regt, T., Dore, G., Juckes, L., ... & Hickie, I. B. (2013). Pathways to alcohol-induced brain impairment in young people: a review. Cortex, 49(1), 3-17. Herreros-Villanueva, M., Hijona, E., Ba?ales, J. M., Cosme, A., & Bujanda, L. (2013). Alcohol consumption on pancreatic diseases. World journal of gastroenterology: WJG, 19(5), 638. McMurray, A., & Clendon, J. (2015). Community Health and Wellness-E-book: Primary Health Care in Practice. Elsevier Health Sciences.

Poli, A., Marangoni, F., Avogaro, A., Barba, G., Bellentani, S., Bucci, M., ... & de Gaetano, G. (2013). Moderate alcohol use and health: a consensus document. Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, 23(6), 4 87-504.

Printz, C. (2016). NCI seeks ideas for National Cancer Moonshot. Cancer, 122(16), 2453-2453. Ramamoorthi, R., Jayaraj, R., Notaras, L., & Thomas, M. ( 2014). Alcohol-related violence among the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders of the Northern Territory: prioritizing an agenda for prevention-narrative review article. Iranian journal of public health, 43(5), 5 39.

Rothman, S. (2014). The impact of Bugmy and Munda on sentencing Aboriginal and other offenders. Judicial Officers Bulletin, 26(3), 17.

SCRGSP (Steering Committee for the Review of Government Services Provision) 2007a. Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2007. Canberra: Productivity Commission.

Whitman, I. R., Pletcher, M. J., Vittinghoff, E., Imburgia, K. E., Maguire, C., Betterncourt, L., ... & Marcus, G. M. (2015). Abstract P088: Perceptions of Alcohol as Heart Healthy: The Health eHeart Study.

World Health Organization, & World Health Organization. Ma nagement of Substance Abuse Unit. (2014). Global status report on alcohol and health, 2014. World Health Organization.

Zubrick, S. R., Dudgeon, P., Gee, G., Glaskin, B., Kelly, K., Paradies, Y., ... & Walker, R. (2010). Social determinants of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing. Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice, 75-90

How to cite this essay: