The Physical and Mental Effects of Addiction among Indigenous Australians Living In Rural or Remote Australia
Name: Patrick K. Kimuyu
Addition among the indigenous Australians living in rural Australia has seemingly become an enormous social issue in the society. Over the past three decades, alcohol addiction and other drugs is believed to have caused significant physical and mental consequences on the lives of indigenous Australian population because it has been one of the principal causes of drug problems. Nicholas (2007) laments “alcohol remains the major drug problem faced by Indigenous Australians” (p. 2). It is reported that addiction to alcohol has contributed significantly to the prevalence of chronic diseases including mental illnesses. Apart from causing mental illnesses, alcohol addiction contributes to the occurrence of liver cirrhosis, fetal alcohol syndrome, cardiovascular disease and several types of cancer. On the other hand, alcohol and drugs addiction is believed to have contributed to crime, accidents, violence and anti-social behaviors because it impairs coordination and judgment (National Rural Health Alliance & ADCA, 2011). Therefore, this essay will provide an overview on the physical and mental effects of alcohol addiction among indigenous Australians living in rural Australia. It will discuss the background of alcohol addiction among indigenous Australians and evaluate its impact on the health of the concerned population.
In regard to the background of alcohol addiction among indigenous Australians living in rural Australia, misuse of alcohol has been identified as one of the major causes of social and health problems. Gray and his colleagues (2010) report “Alcohol is the most widely used psychoactive drug in Australia” (p. 1). For instance, the rate of harm related to excessive alcohol consumption has been assuming upward trends in the past two decades.
Despite the fact that indigenous Australians accounts for a small percentage of the Australian population, they have been ranked the most affected by alcohol addiction. Gray et al. (2010) reports “Indigenous Australians constitute 2.6% of Australia's population; however, they experience health and social problems resulting from alcohol use at a rate disproportionate to non-Indigenous Australians” (p. 1). As a result, alcohol associated burden of disease is estimated to be double compared to that of non-indigenous Australian population. Records show that this population records 12.4% of dementia cases (Broe et al., 2009). In 2003, burden of disease related to alcohol among indigenous Australians accounted for 6.2 percent whereas the national burden of disease associated to alcohol was estimated to be 3.2 percent (Gray et al., 2010).
On the other hand, risky alcohol consumption prevalence rates among indigenous Australians have been assuming upward trends compared the case in Australian cities. For instance, in 2011, alcohol related lifetime harm among the indigenous Australian population accounted for 31% in the remote areas compared to 19% in major cities whereas single-occasion harm accounted for 26% and 15%, respectively (National Rural Health Alliance & ADCA, 2011).
Addiction seems to have exerted immense impact on the health of the indigenous Australians living in rural Australia. Currently, the percentage of the indigenous Australian population, which is addicted to alcohol and other drugs has increased significantly; thus, causing an enormous health concern. Nicholas (2007) states “There is an increasing body of evidence that suggests that cannabis use causes a substantially detrimental effect on some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities” (p. 8). Research studies indicate that addiction has contributed to the unprecedented increase of suicide, assault injuries, road traffic injuries and chronic diseases (Gray et al., 2010).
Substance addiction is believed to contribute to assault injuries among indigenous Australians living in rural Australia. In most cases, addiction enhances violence incidences among the affected population. As a result, violent attacks result to assault injuries. For instance, alcohol addiction among the indigenous Australians living in the rural Australia has been reported to be one of the principal contributing causes of assault injuries. In 2004, assault injuries associated to alcohol addiction were found to account for 6 percent of alcohol related deaths among men whereas females accounted for 10 percent deaths among the indigenous Australians (Clendon & McMurray, 2010). It is also reported that most assault injuries occurred while the victims and perpetrators were engaging in alcohol drinking. It is estimated that assault injuries, which occurred at drinking points among the indigenous Australians living in the rural areas between 1999 and 2003, accounted for 71% compared to 19% among non-indigenous Australians (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008).
In regard to traffic injuries, indigenous Australians have been found to cause most of the traffic road accidents in the rural areas. It is believed that the increase in the cases of traffic road accidents involving indigenous Australians living in the rural areas is caused by substance addiction. For instance, alcohol availability in the rural areas has been blamed for road accident mortalities among the indigenous Australians living in rural Australia. Reports indicate that road traffic injuries among the indigenous Australians accounted for 7% among males while females were involved in 4% of road traffic injuries in 2007 (Gray et al., 2010).
On the other hand, substance addiction causes immense health impacts on the Indigenous Australians living in rural Australia. Substance addiction is believed to have contributed significantly to the health of the indigenous population. Ordinarily, substance addiction causes an array of mental disorders and chronic illnesses. World Health Organization (2013) reports “consumption of alcohol carries adverse health and social consequences related to its intoxicating, toxic and dependence-producing properties” (par. 1). However, it is worth noting that substance abuse may have some beneficial effects although the harm exceeds any meaningful benefit. For instance, moderate alcohol consumption among the indigenous Australians has been found to be accompanied with some health benefits. In addition, moderate alcohol consumption enhances the social well-being of members of the community although the associated benefits depend on demographic factors such as age and health status.
In regard to mental health, addiction to substances among the indigenous Australians living in rural Australia has been found to contribute to the increase of mental illnesses among the population. For instance, mood and neurotic disorders are common among drug addicts in rural Australia (Hunter, 2010). Other significant mental disorders affecting the indigenous Australian population living in rural Australia include schizophrenia, organic mental disorders, delusional disorders and disorder of the adult personality and behavior (Gray et al., 2010).
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- Patrick Kimuyu (Author), 2017, Addiction among Indigenous Australians Living in Rural or Remote Australia. Physical and Mental Effects, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/381241