"Need everyone helping to keep off because everyone helping to keep on" – reducing harms from cannabis use in remote Indigenous Australian communities involves more than just users

Graham, Veronica E., and Clough, Alan R. (2019) "Need everyone helping to keep off because everyone helping to keep on" – reducing harms from cannabis use in remote Indigenous Australian communities involves more than just users. Substance Use & Misuse, 54 (5). pp. 699-712.

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Abstract

Background: Heavy cannabis use in remote Indigenous Australian communities potentially contributes to existing health disparities. Community members’ perceptions of cannabis harms will support harm-minimization in these settings. Objective: To describe perceived cannabis harms reported by a cohort of Indigenous Australians living in small, isolated communities as an indication of their existing resources for change.

Method: Inductive thematic analysis of 407 semi-structured interviews with participants in a cohort study in three remote communities in Cape York in far north Queensland (Australia) revealed major areas of concern about cannabis. Three attitudinal categories were defined according to reported cannabis impacts and urgency for change: 1- “LOW CONCERN” said cannabis was a low priority community issue; 2- “SOME CONCERN” tolerated cannabis use but identified personal or community-level concerns; and 3- “HIGH CONCERN” expressed strong aversion to cannabis and identified serious personal or community-level harms. The characteristics and the patterns of concerns were summarized across the groups.

Results: “Category 1- LOW CONCERN” (n¼ 107), mostly current users, emphasized personal “financial impacts” and “stress.” “Category 2 – SOME CONCERN” (n¼ 141) perceived community level impacts warranting systematic action, particularly on “employment”; and “Category 3 – HIGH CONCERN” (n¼ 159), most of the never users, emphasized concerns for families and youth. Irrespective of use history, the cohort reported financial and abstinence-related stress, overlapping alcohol issues and generally endorsed alleviating impacts on children and youth.

Conclusion: Nearly ubiquitous experience with cannabis harms and impacts in this cohort suggests resources for harm reduction including family and cultural obligation, stress relief, financial management, and engagement are available across all community members, not just users.

Item ID: 59955
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1532-2491
Keywords: Cannabis; Indigenous Australians; vulnerable populations; social support
Copyright Information: © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
Funders: National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
Projects and Grants: NHMRC Grant No. 601002, NHMRC Career Development Award #1046773
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2019 05:41
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111701 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9203 Indigenous Health > 920399 Indigenous Health not elsewhere classified @ 50%
92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920414 Substance Abuse @ 50%
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