In remote Indigenous communities, access to typical drugs of abuse can be restricted due to geographical or social policy constraints. In these unique contexts, the substances and patterns of use can differ markedly from elsewhere in Australia.

Substances including petrol and kava are used recreationally in some remote Indigenous communities. Even when more common substances, such as alcohol or cannabis are used, polarised patterns of use are often observed between members of the same community. There tends to be little moderate use, with individuals either using a substance heavily, or not at all.

Substance misuse disorders often coexist with other mental disorders. In such instances, the impacts are more chronic and severe than for either disorder alone. Mental health disorders account for the second largest proportion (15%) of total disease burden for Indigenous Australians. Substance use disorders account for most of the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous mental health. 

Our research focus:
  • To minimise the impact of substance misuse and related mental health issues through the provision and development of training, resources and interventions.

Our research impact: 
  • Translated research findings into multimedia educational and intervention resources.
Key staff:
  • Remote AOD Workforce
  • Queensland University of Technology
  • St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne.
  1. d'Abbs, P., & Chenhall, R. D. (2013). Spirituality and religion in responses to substance misuse among Indigenous Australians. Substance Use & Misuse, 48, 1-16. doi: 10.3109/10826084.2013.800746
  2. Nagel, T., Kavanagh, D., Barclay, L., Trauer, T., Chenhall, R., Frendin, J., & Griffin, C. (2011). Integrating treatment for mental and physical disorders and substance misuse in Indigenous primary care settings. Australasian Psychiatry,19 S17-S19.
  3. Nagel, T., & Griffin, C. (2010). Promoting Self-management in Indigenous People with Mental Illness and Substance Misuse. International Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation, 15(2), 85-90.
  4. Nagel, T., Robinson, G., Condon, J., & Trauer, T. (2009). Approach to treatment of mental illness and substance dependence in remote Indigenous communities: Results of a mixed methods study. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 17(4), 174-182.
  5. Dingwall, K. M., & Cairney, S. (2011). Detecting psychological symptoms related to substance misuse among Indigenous Australians. Drug and Alcohol Review, 30(1), 33-39. doi: 10.1111/j.1465-3362.2010.00194.x
Click here to view more substance misuse publications in PubMed.
  1. New app to improve Indigenous mental health featured on World Mental Health Day

    New app to improve Indigenous mental health featured on World Mental Health Day


    An innovative iPad app based on tools developed by Indigenous people for Indigenous people is hoping to address one of the nationís fastest growing health problems.

  2. Health survey of male Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in the NT

    Health survey of male Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in the NT


    The Alcohol, Other Drugs, and Gambling (AODG) Unit at Menzies School of Health Research is leading a research project relating to Health Literacy Among Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Males in the NT.