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Alcohol Ban Leads to Increased Drug Use

Restrictions on alcohol have led to the increased use of marijuana among a remote Aboriginal community according to a study in the Australian Journal of Rural Health published by Wiley –Blackwell.

The study entitled “Lukumbat Marawana: A Changing Pattern of Drug Use by Youth in a Remote Aboriginal Community” finds that the prohibition of alcohol and petrol has lead to rise of marijuana use.

In addition, the study highlights the importance of looking at Indigenous substance misuse in the total context of Indigenous poverty, poor health and lack of opportunities.

Lead authors, Drs. Kate Senior and Richard Chenhall, from the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin, say, “While banning alcohol in Indigenous communities is successful in reducing harm caused by alcohol abuse, it must be done in full consultation with the communities.”

National statistics indicate that marijuana use is highly prevalent in Australia with at least 11% of the urban non-Indigenous population using the drug. This number doubles to 22% among the Indigenous people. Current evidence suggests that rates of marijuana use may be much higher in remote Indigenous communities throughout the Northern Territory

The prohibition of alcohol within the remote Aboriginal community without any attendant efforts to address underlying social causes has created a new set of problems. The existing marijuana market has grown and its use has extended beyond youths to include adults.

Drs. Senior and Chenhall add, “Efforts to control licit substances, such as alcohol, should address the dynamics of alcohol and drug use in totality, as well as interventions that are able to contend with the underlying social determinants of Indigenous health.”

Alina Boey | alfa
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