Cannabis use among remote Indigenous Australians: opportunities to support change identified in two waves of sampling

Cannabis use among remote Indigenous Australians: opportunities to support change identified in two waves of sampling Journal Article

Frontiers in Public Health

  • Author(s): Graham, V, Clough, A.
  • Published: 2018
  • ISBN: 2296-2565

Abstract: Background: Harms from cannabis use among Indigenous populations in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States may be magnified by poorer health and heavy use. However, little direct evidence is available to evaluate cannabis’ impacts. In communities in remote northern Queensland (Australia) where cannabis has become endemic, opportunities to support change were investigated. Methods: Participants (aged 15-49 years) were asked about their cannabis use history in interviews in two waves of population sampling in Cape York (Queensland). Wave 1 included 429 people (235 males and 194 females); and wave 2 included 402 people (228 males and 174 females). Current users (used cannabis during the year before interview) described frequency of use, amount consumed, expenditure and dependence symptoms. Other substance use was recorded for 402 people at wave 2. Results: Wave 1: 69% reported lifetime use and 44% current use. Males (55%) were more likely than females (30%) to be current users (P<0.001). Most (96%) current users described at least weekly use; nearly half (48%) were ‘heavy’ users (≥6 cones/session at least once/week) and 77% met cannabis dependence criteria. Overall, three communities spent up to $AUD14,200/week on cannabis, around $AUD2.0 million/year, or around 9% of community people’s total income on cannabis. The majority (79%) of current users wanted to quit or reduce their cannabis use. Wave 2: no difference was observed in the proportion of lifetime (69%, |z|=0.04, P=0.968) or current cannabis users (39%, |z|=1.39, P=0.164); nor current use among males (71%, |z|=0.91, P=0.363) or females (62%, |z|=0.36, P=0.719). However, a significant reduction in current users by 15% (|z|=2.36, P=0.018) was observed in one community. Of 105 wave 1 current users reinterviewed or assessed by proxy at wave 2, 29 (27%) had ceased use. These participants reported cost and family commitments as reasons to change and that social support and employment enabled abstinence. Current and lifetime cannabis use were closely associated with all other substance use, particularly tobacco and alcohol (both P>0.001). Conclusions: High rates of heavy cannabis use in remote Australian Indigenous communities warrant further action. Successful cessation in a number of individuals suggests that significant opportunities are available

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Suggested Citation
Graham, V, Clough, A., 2018, Cannabis use among remote Indigenous Australians: opportunities to support change identified in two waves of sampling, Journal Article, viewed 16 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=13912.

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