Social dimensions of alcohol (and drug) problems

Social dimensions of alcohol (and drug) problems

Ian Webster

This seminar centred on the idea that our society is in denial about the impact of alcohol (and other drugs) on Australian communities.

Homeless man on the street

This event was held on Tuesday 25 March 2014.

This seminar will centre on the idea that our society is in denial about the impact of alcohol (and other drugs) on communities just as the 'alcoholic' is said to be in denial of their own drinking problems. Alcohol will be the exemplar, as the social harms from heavy drinking outweigh the harms from other substances.

Our own history tells us of the potent links between alcohol and poverty which ignited the social reforms of the past. Today's challenge is the link between inequality and disadvantage and alcohol harms the extremes of which are evident in our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and among our homeless people.

In the midst of the advocacy for mental health reform and for suicide prevention the impact of alcohol, and to a lesser extent other substances, on mental health and especially suicide risk is neglected and represents another form of systemic denial.

Alcohol is more than a biological toxin; its patterns of consumption are toxic to communities and social well-being. Above all it is harmful to families and children.

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