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Alcohol dependence in a community sample of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians: harms, getting help and awareness of local treatments

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posted on 21.11.2021, 23:56 authored by TJ Weatherall, JH Conigrave, KM Conigrave, J Perry, S Wilson, Robin RoomRobin Room, T Chikritzhs, Kylie LeeKylie Lee
Background: Few studies have examined links between current alcohol dependence and specific harms among Indigenous Australians. We investigated these associations as well as help seeking for drinking, awareness of local treatments and recommendations to help family or friends cut down or stop drinking in two Indigenous communities. Methods: A representative sample of Indigenous Australians was surveyed in one urban and one remote community in South Australia. Data were collected via the Grog Survey App. Participants were dependent if they reported two or more symptoms of alcohol dependence (ICD-11). Pearson chi-square tests were used to describe relationships between employment by gender, and dependence by awareness of medicines and local treatment options. Multivariate logistic regressions were used to predict the odds of dependent drinkers experiencing harms and getting help for drinking, controlling for age, gender, schooling and income. Results: A total of 775 Indigenous Australians took part in the study. After controlling for confounders, dependent drinkers were nearly eight times more likely to report a harm and nearly three times more likely to get help for their drinking—compared with non-dependent drinkers. Participants recommended accessing local support from an Aboriginal alcohol and other drugs worker, or a detoxification/ rehabilitation service. Discussion and conclusions: More support and funding is needed for Indigenous Australians to ensure local treatment options for dependent drinkers are readily available, appropriate and accessible. Involvement of local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander health professionals in delivery of care can help ensure that it is appropriate to an individual’s culture and context.


This work is supported by the Centre of Research Excellence in Indigenous Health and Alcohol (#1117198), the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) through a Project Grant (#1087192), a Practitioner Fellowship for K Conigrave (#1117582). R Room's work is supported by the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education. T Chikritzhs' work is supported by the Australian Government under the Drug and Alcohol Program (NDRI core funder) and Curtin University, Western Australia.


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