Alcoholic Beverage and Personal Communication

Topics: Alcoholism, Alcoholic beverage, Drug addiction Pages: 13 (3958 words) Published: August 12, 2013
PACIFIC HEALTH DIALOG MARCH 201 1,

VOL.

17, NO. 1

REVIEW

Drug and Alcohol Use in Fiji: A Review
Elenoa Seru Puamau1, Fiji School of Medicine, Graham Roberts1, Fiji School of Medicine, Private Bag, Suva, Fiji. Lucina Schmich2, Burnet Institute of Melbourne, Robert Power, Burnet Institute of Melbourne, Australia

Introduction
The use of a range of drug types, including alcohol, are part of the traditions of many, if not all, communities in Fiji. The Fijian and Indo-Fijian communities have long traditions of psycho-active drug use in the context of ritual and ceremony.1,2 It has been noted that seafarers, together with indentured labourers, brought cannabis or Indian hemp traditions to Fiji, with the sugar cane plantations providing fertile ground for cultivation.2,3 Meanwhile, kava was widely cultivated and consumed by ethnic Fijians. The Indo-Fijian community slowly adopted kava drinking rituals and gradually others began to increase their consumption. In addition, marijuana use emerged and spread with increasing popularity amongst youth, especially males.2-5 This literature review explores the current licit and illicit drug situation in Fiji. It considers peer-reviewed articles identified using Pub Med, Health Internet Work Access to Research Initiative (HINARI) searches and ‘grey’ literature, including published and unpublished reports, and web based resources (e.g. UNDOC, WHO). The review found that there is limited data available to assist in understanding the current situation and associated harms in Fiji, but notes more studies and reports have examined alcohol consumption patterns and associated social problems when compared with studies on illicit drug use.1, 5-15

Alcohol use in Fiji
According to the WHO Global Status Report on Alcohol, data from the 1993 National Nutrition Survey indicate that consumption of alcoholic home brew use is widespread in Fiji, as in other Pacific nations. These beverages usually contain up to three times the alcohol content of commercially produced beer and are mostly drunk by younger men.16 After 1995, unrecorded alcohol consumption in Fiji was estimated to be 1.0 litre of pure alcohol per capita for the population older than 15 years (estimated by a group of key alcohol experts).17 Although there are no recently published statistics on the number of drinkers and abstainers, the same survey found daily drinkers to be 1.4% among males and 0.8% among females aged 12 years and over.18 Estimates from alcohol experts show that the proportion of adult males and females who had been abstaining (in the year prior to the survey) was 74% (males) and 98% (females).17 Research shows that single drinking sessions with a high rate of alcohol intake (common practice among Fijian youth) can cause abrupt mood swings resulting in violence, accidents and fights, exaggerated emotions, uncharacteristic behaviour, memory loss, impaired judgement, communication problems, sleepiness, coma, stupor and death (at very high intake) and suicide attempts. Binge drinking has also been implicated in schizophrenic and other psychiatric episodes.19

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PACIFIC HEALTH DIALOG MARCH 201 1,

VOL.

17, NO. 1

While there is limited current information on the rate and consumption patterns of alcohol, cannabis and kava among young people,1,6,9 several studies2,3,8,11 were conducted to analyse the extent of tobacco and alcohol use among young people in Fiji in the 1990s and early 2000s. One of the studies4 found that alcohol is widely consumed in one form or another among young people, with about 2 in 5 of the young people surveyed having tasted it. The percentage of young people classified as current drinkers ranged from a high of 26% among males to 9% among females.4 Of concern was the high proportion of binge drinkers: about 3 in 5 young people reported having had 5 or more alcoholic drinks in one session. The study4 indicated that the high prevalence among 13-15 year olds poses a...
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