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Absence of alcohol withdrawal syndrome in a remote Indigenous community

Stephen A Margolis, Valmae A Ypinazar, Alan R Clough and Ernest Hunter
Med J Aust 2008; 189 (10): 596.

To the Editor: Impacts of alcohol consumption on health and wellbeing in remote Indigenous communities are well documented. In response, governments have applied supply and demand reduction programs, including the “Meeting Challenges, Making Choices” program, which has lowered the rate of serious injury. Although a pattern of heavy, episodic drinking has been documented, the nature of physical dependence in relation to acute alcohol withdrawal syndrome is uncertain. We report the results of sudden, temporary removal of alcohol in a small Indigenous community.

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  • Stephen A Margolis1,2
  • Valmae A Ypinazar2
  • Alan R Clough2
  • Ernest Hunter3

  • 1 Royal Flying Doctor Service, Cairns, QLD.
  • 2 James Cook University, Cairns, QLD.
  • 3 Queensland Health, Cairns, QLD.


  • 1. d’Abbs P, Togni S. Liquor licensing and community action in regional and remote Australia: a review of recent initiatives. Aust N Z J Public Health 2000; 24: 45-53.
  • 2. Margolis SA, Ypinazar VA, Muller R. The impact of supply reduction through alcohol management plans on serious injury in remote Indigenous communities in remote Australia: a ten-year analysis using data from the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Alcohol Alcohol 2008; 43: 104-110.
  • 3. Saggers S, Gray D. Dealing with alcohol: Indigenous usage in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • 4. Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia. Alcoholism. Bethesda, Md: US National Library of Medicine; 2008; 5 May: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000944.htm (accessed May 2008).
  • 5. Lee KS, Clough AR, Conigrave KM. High levels of cannabis use persist in Aboriginal communities in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory [letter]. Med J Aust 2007; 187: 594-595. <MJA full text>

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