Cannabis use and violence in three remote Aboriginal Australian communities: Analysis of clinic presentations Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Anecdotal reports have linked cannabis use to violence in some remote Australian Aboriginal communities. We examine the relationship between cannabis use and presentations to local clinics for violence-related trauma at a population level. As part of a larger study, estimates of cannabis and alcohol use status were obtained for 264 randomly selected individuals aged 14-42. These estimates were collected from Aboriginal health workers and respected community informants using a previously validated approach. Clinic records for the sample were audited for physical trauma presentations between January 2004 and June 2006. One in 3 individuals (n = 88/264) presented to the clinic with physical trauma. Of these, the majority (65.9%, n = 58/88) had at least one presentation that was violence-related. Nearly 2 in every 3 of the total presentations for trauma following violence (n = 40/63) involved the use of a weapon. Hunting tools were most often used, followed by wooden or rock implements. Individuals who reported any current cannabis use were nearly 4 times more likely than nonusers to present at least once for violent trauma after adjusting for current alcohol use, age, and sex (OR = 3.8, 95% CI [1.5, 9.8]). Aboriginal individuals in these remote communities experience high rates of physical trauma and violence, often involving weapons. A comprehensive study is needed to explore the association between cannabis and violence. At the same time, an investment in local programmes is needed to address cannabis use and underlying risk factors for substance use and for violence.

authors

  • Lee, Kylie
  • Sukavatvibul, Krisakorn
  • Conigrave, Katherine M

publication date

  • 2015