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Addict Biol. 1998 Jan;3(1):29-46. doi: 10.1080/13556219872326.

Substance misuse in Aboriginal Australians.

Author information

1
Office of Aboriginal Health, Health Department of Western Australia, and School of Public Health, Cur tin University, Perth, Australia.

Abstract

Australia's Aborigines lived in isolation from the rest of humanity as successful hunter-gatherers for tens of thousands of years. That isolation ended abruptly with British colonization in the late 18th century and was followed by a traumatic 200 years for Aborigines who are now seriously disadvantaged, socio-economically and in terms of their health standards. It has often been assumed that the Aborigines had no access to psychotropic substances before permanent European contact but several pieces of evidence dispute this view. The history of Aboriginal contact with and usage of intoxicating substances, including alcohol, is extremely complex and affected by a maze of restrictive government policies. These interact with a wide range of other Federal and State policies which have changed rapidly since the late 1960s when Aborigines were first granted the franchise; access to unrestricted drinking followed soon afterwards. Today Aborigines suffer disproportionately to other Australians from the physical and social consequences of excess alcohol consumption, tobacco usage, petrol and other solvent sniffing, usage of marijuana, amphetamines, cocaine and heroin, as well as other drugs. The Aboriginal population is dispersed in cities, towns, fringe settlements, rural and remote areas over this vast continent and there are different patterns of drug usage from place to place. This review attempts to synthesize some of this information in order to give an overview to the history, background, current status of substance misuse by Aborigines as well as some strategies being used to try to overcome this serious problem.

PMID:
26736078
DOI:
10.1080/13556219872326

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