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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin
 
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spacing1What do we know about alcohol use among Indigenous people?

What harms are associated with alcohol use?

Drinking too much alcohol is associated with:

If a woman drinks alcohol when she is pregnant, the unborn child may be affected by fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), the term used to describe the physical, behavioural, and learning problems caused by alcohol damage to the brain and other parts of the body of the unborn baby [2].

What do we know about alcohol use among Indigenous people?

The 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) found that 80% of mothers of Indigenous children 0-3 years did not drink during pregnancy, and 16% drank less alcohol [3]. Only 3.3% drank the same amount or more alcohol during pregnancy.

Indigenous people are much more likely to not drink alcohol (abstain) than non-Indigenous people. The 2008 NATSISS found that more than one-third of Indigenous adults did not drink alcohol (compared with around one-in-eight of non-Indigenous adults) [4][5]. However, Indigenous people who drink alcohol are more likely to drink it at high-risk levels than non-Indigenous people. The 2008 NATSISS found that one-in-six Indigenous adults were drinking at high-risk levels for a long time ('chronic' risky/high-risk drinking), and one-third of Indigenous adults had reported drinking at high-risk levels over a short time (binge drinking) in the two weeks before they were interviewed [6].

In 2006-2010, alcohol was responsible for almost 400 deaths of Indigenous people [7]. Most of these deaths were from alcoholic liver disease.

References

  1. National Health and Medical Research Council (2009) Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council
  2. Mattson SN, Vaurio L (2009) Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. In: Yeates KO, Ris MD, Taylor HG, Pennington BF, eds. Pediatric neuropsychology : research, theory and practice. 2nd ed. New York: Guilford Press: 265-296
  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2011) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health performance framework 2010: detailed analyses. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  4. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2010) National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social survey, Australia: summary booklet, 2008. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics
  5. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2009) National Health Survey: summary of results, 2007-2008 (reissue). Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics
  6. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2010) The health and welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Oct 2010. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics
  7. Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (2012) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health performance framework: 2012 report. Canberra: Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Department of Health and Ageing
 
Last updated: 10 April 2013
 
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