Review of volatile substance use among Indigenous people

Richard Midford, Sarah MacLean, Michelle Catto, Neil Thomson, Olivier Debuyst

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    A major national review in 2006 noted that volatile substance use (VSU) is an issue in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in Australia. The review found that 'chroming' (inhaling spray paint) and petrol sniffing are two forms of inhalant abuse that are currently common in Australia, with the practice of chroming being more common in urban and rural areas, while petrol sniffing is more common in remote Indigenous communities. The purpose of this review is to summarise key information from a number of substantial reports and other documents to make it more accessible to people involved in Indigenous health in Australia. This review focuses on Australian Indigenous people with the focus on petrol sniffing, since that form of VSU is predominant among Indigenous people in Australia. After summarising briefly the nature of volatile substances and their impacts when inhaled by people, the review summarises the use both generally and among Indigenous people in Australia, and the impacts of their use among Indigenous people. Attention is then directed to methods for responding to their use in Indigenous communities, in terms of supply reduction, demand reduction, harm reduction and law enforcement, before providing some concluding comments. While some progress has been made in combating VSU, including the provision of safer products (such as Opal fuel), further work remains to address the underlying social determinants of VSU and other deleterious health behaviours by taking measures to redress the socio-economic disadvantage experienced by Indigenous communities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-18
    Number of pages18
    JournalAustralian Indigenous Health Bulletin
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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