A number of health risk factors are considerably worse among the people living in rural and remote Australia than for their peers in the major cities. One of these is the proportions of people in rural and remote areas who drink alcohol at levels that are risky for lifetime harm and single occasion harm. Among those living in rural areas, men and youths, and those working in the farming industry, are more likely to drink at high-risk levels.
This appears to be another case - to add to the situation for smoking - where health promotion strategies have not been as effective with people who live in rural and remote areas as in the cities. This phenomenon partly explains why health status and life expectancy for rural people still lag behind those of people in Australia’s major cities.
Data show that alcohol-attributable death rates are higher for rural than urban residents, as are rates of hospitalisation attributed to alcohol.
The reasons for these higher rates include the availability of a more limited range of venues for recreation and socialising, a relative lack of awareness of alcohol guidelines, and lack of access to targeted alcohol interventions.
Nationally, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 1.4 times more likely to abstain from drinking alcohol but, despite this, are 1.5 times more likely to drink at risky levels.
Overall, alcohol misuse costs Australia $36 billion a year in terms of various healthcare, productivity and insurance protection costs.