08. Hard Working and Hard Drinking

How Alcohol has become the Silent Killer of Rural Males
Podcast – coming soon

Introduction
Men have always been heavier drinkers than women, and in rural communities the pub is seen as a focal point for social contact and some meagre and much needed relief from the daily grind. But what is now known, is that the pub and drinking culture of rural communities is taking a significant toll, not only on young males who are killed on outback roads, but on the physical and mental health of men, and on their relationships. But the remedy has yet to be found, and efforts to address the problem, to date, have not met with much success.

Contributors
Dr John Ashfield
Professor Charlotte de Crespigny
Dr Tony Lian-Lloyd
Stuart Willder
For details of all interviewees who contributed to this project, click here

Never the same sky! Photographer Luke Cummins ACT

Never the same sky! Photographer Luke Cummins ACT

Thinkabout Talkabout
Dr John Ashfield
Alcohol is inseparable from the culture of rural communities; it accompanies nearly all social events; getting drunk is almost a rite of passage, and like it or not, the local pub is now a prime meeting place for whole families. Of course, without public transport, and having usually only reluctant designated drivers, it’s very difficult to get home without using your own vehicle and driving under the influence. It’s pretty common for people to let each other know where the local police officer is located in order to avoid being apprehended for drunk driving.

Yes, alcohol can fuel dis-inhibition and social fun, but there is a dark side to all of this in rural communities: the death of too many young people on country roads, and, despite community grief and resolutions that this must not happen again, the drinking culture soon gets back to its usual momentum.

From the perspective of health, heavy alcohol consumption (and the norm in many communities is heavy drinking), is associated with bowel, prostate, and other forms of cancer. It is responsible even in smaller amounts for adverse changes in brain function. Alcohol is a powerful depressant – it can cause depression, worsens stress, and commonly causes sleep disturbance and insomnia.

Alcohol affects particular neuro-transmitters in the brain which regulate mood, emotion states, irritability and aggression, and sleep. Mess with these neuro-transmitters, and depression, insomnia, and angry behaviour can emerge – causing problems in relationships and a decline in mental health. Worse still, people who drink immoderately, are 90 times more prone to suicide than those who don’t drink.

It’s a huge challenge to figure out how to turn this around – but we need to try.

First Broadcast – Monday 20 May 2013

Related Resources
Books
Doing Psychotherapy with Men, Dr John Ashfield,Australian Institute of Male Health and Studies 2011
Matters for Men, Dr John Ashfield, Peacock Publications 2007
Taking Care of Yourself and Your Family, Dr John Ashfield, Peacock Publications 2007

Websites
Coaching Solutions for Men
Men’s Health South Australia
Australian Men’s Shed Association
Australian Institute of Male Health and Studies
You Can Help
Men’s Health Australia
New Male Studies
Man Therapy
Lifeline

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