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COA S TAL SAFE T Y BRIE F ALCOHOL & DRUGS S U R F L I FE S AV I N G AU S T R A L I A


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ALCOHOL & DRUGS IN AUSTR ALIA

A L C ONHAT O LI O&N D A LR UOGVSE RSVNIAEPWS H O T 2 0 0 4 -1 8

‘Toxicity and Health’ is one of the top ten national safety agenda items at Surf Life Saving. With more than 85% of the population living within 50 kilometres of the coast, it is no surprise that Australians are huge lovers of water. Similarly, alcohol and drug use in Australia is widespread and swimming after consuming alcohol is the second most common harmful risk after drink driving1. Alcohol and drugs increase the risk of drowning as it hampers one’s ability to make clear decisions and respond to any hazards, particularly when in or around water2.

ANALYSIS On average 18 people drown per year with alcohol or drugs in their system. ‘Toxicity and health’ is one of the top ten National Safety Agenda issues.

18

FATALITIES

55

41

257

16

AVERAGE DEATHS PER YEAR

AVERAGE FATALITY RATE

0.08

18

PER 100,000 POPULATION

40 20

TOXICITY INVOLVED IN DROWNING DEATHS

More than three-quarters (83%) of the people who drowned with alcohol in their system had a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) above the legal limit of 0.05g/100ml. This was the case for 81% (n=120) of males and 100% (n=20) of females.

KEY DEMOGRAPHIC MALES AGED

26%

26%

20-54

Both Alcohol and Drugs

40

Alcohol Drugs Both Alcohol and Drugs

MALE

ALCOHOL & DRUG RELATED DROWNING DEATHS Both Alcohol and Drugs

25

Drugs

Alcohol

25

24 21 17

15

21

20

19 16

17

14

6

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

Safe recreating at the coast involves being aware of hazards and taking responsibility for oneself. This brief aims to inform future mitigation strategies to reduce drowning deaths attributed to toxicity.

87%

AVERAGE AGE

34%

2004-05

Of people that had drugs in their system at the time of drowning, almost half (53%) consumed illicit drugs while a further 28% consumed prescription drugs and 16% consumed both.

Australian residents with Australian, European and Asian backgrounds

40%

17

Alcohol and drug related coastal and ocean drowning deaths have been monitored by Surf Life Saving (SLSA) due to the ongoing prevalence of these fatalities. Between 2004-18 there were 257 alcohol and drug related drowning deaths on the Australian coast, which is an average of 18 per year3. More than half (51%) of these deaths occurred while swimming/wading or boating, predominantly at unpatrolled locations or outside patrol hours.

67

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

“ALCOHOL AND DRUG USE IN AUSTRALIA IS WIDESPREAD AND SWIMMING AFTER CONSUMING ALCOHOL IS THE SECOND MOST COMMON HARMFUL RISK AFTER DRINK DRIVING1”

2017-18

Reference: SLSA National Coastal Safety Report 2018

SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTR ALIA SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTR SECTION ALIA

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COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – ALCOHOL & DRUGS SECTION NAME COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF-ALCOHOL & DRUGS

SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTR ALIA

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COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – ALCOHOL & DRUGS


DARWIN

L O C AT I O N

2

12

2004-2018

ALCOHOL & DRUG RELATED DROWNING DEATHS 2004-2018 0

2

1,000km

4

2

18 (7%)

2

SCAL E

5

56 (21%)

3

41 (16%) 13 BRISBANE

16 (6%)

3

PERTH

11

67 (26%)

2 3

3 5

6

3

SYDNEY

3

34

NSW City of Randwick (10) Central Coast (7)

NT

2

40 (16%) 4

VIC

3

HOBART

Mornington Peninsula (10)

City of Darwin (10)

11

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COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – ALCOHOL & DRUGS

39

7

4

City of Gold Coast (15) Redland City (8) Sunshine Coast (7)

6

CANBERRA

MELBOURNE

ALCOHOL & DRUG BLACKSPOTS

32

5

ADELAIDE

2

QLD

2 5

26

SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTR ALIA

20 (8%) 5

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – ALCOHOL & DRUGS


A N A LY S I S

A N A LY S I S 2 0 0 4 -1 8

WHO

87%

2004-2018 ALCOHOL & DRUG RELATED DROWNING DEATHS BY LOCATION

MALE

9% 1%

12%

43%

REGION OF BIRTH

ALCOHOL & DRUG RELATED DROWNING DEATHS BY ACTIVITY

Of known cases

17%

43% Beach 18%

5%

3%

6% 30% 3%

13%

43%

REGIONAL LOCATIONS

15%

REMOTE LOCATIONS

12% 1% 2%

10%

Beach Offshore Rock/Cliff Bay Marina/Jetty Coastal Creek

42%

MAJOR CITIES

68% Australia

2%

30%

3% Australia Europe Asia Oceania North America Africa South America/Carribean

68%

4%

Swimming/ Wading

6% 7%

MOST ENCOUNTERED DRUGS

Swimming/Wading Boating Watercraft Fall Rock Fishing Snorkelling Scuba Diving Attempting a Rescue Land-based Fishing Other Unknown

21% 7%

1.

2.

THC (CANNABIS)

AMPHETAMINES

3.

PRESCRIPTION

2004-2018 BLOOD ALCOHOL CONTENT OVER LEGAL LIMIT BY GENDER

AGE & GENDER

Female Male

3

2

2

2 6

3

40%

3 2 26

26

27

26 19

22

23

OF ALCOHOL RELATED COASTAL DROWNING DEATHS WERE 4 TIMES OR MORE ABOVE THE LEGAL LIMIT

3

17

3

3

9

9

12

15-19

20-24

25-29

30-34

35-39

40-44

45-49

50-54

55-59

60-64

65-69

0

1

4

3

0

70-74

75-79

80-84

81% 100%

1 85+

MALES

FEMALES

Reference: SLSA National Coastal Safety Report 2018

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Reference: SLSA National Coastal Safety Report 2018

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A N A LY S I S

A N A LY S I S

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WHERE

2004-2018

WHEN

WHY

ALCOHOL & DRUG RELATED DROWNING DEATHS BY TIME (n=189*) *Of known times. This is under reporting nighttime deaths. They are usually not recorded until the morning and happen without witnesses. Time would be recorded as 'unknown' and as such not included in the analysis. 26% of cases happened at unknown times. 20 18

43%

18

AT A BEACH LOCATION

AFTERNOON (12-6PM)

12 10

11 9

9

5 3

NSW

11 - 12am

9 - 10pm

8 - 9pm

7 - 8pm

6 - 7pm

5 - 6pm

4 - 5pm

3 - 4pm

2 - 3pm

1 - 2pm

12 - 1pm

11 - 12pm

10 - 11am

9 - 10am

8 - 9am

7 - 8am

1

6 - 7am

5 - 6am

4 - 5am

3 - 4am

7

4 2

2 - 3am

1 - 2am

12 - 1am

7

10 - 11pm

5 4

3

PRE-EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITION OR INJURY

9

6

6

6

5

9

29%

48%

26%

DECEMBER - FEBRUARY

2004-2018

OF VICTIMS WITH MEDICAL CONDITIONS WERE HEART-RELATED

ALCOHOL & DRUG RELATED DROWNING DEATHS BY MONTH 50

29

19

18

19

27

21

37%

27

LIVED LESS THAN 10KM FROM DROWNING LOCATION

19 15

MORE THAN 1KM FROM A LIFESAVING SERVICE

16% RIP CURRENTS

10 3

July

August

September

October

November

December

January

February

March

April

May

June

Reference: SLSA National Coastal Safety Report 2018

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COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – ALCOHOL & DRUGS

Reference: SLSA National Coastal Safety Report 2018

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COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS


HAZARD PERCEPTION

Social research from 20164,5,6,7 explored the use of drugs and alcohol in Australian beachgoers, aiming to understand the factors and perceptions that lead to risk taking. The results showed that alcohol and drug use before swimming is unusual, although nearly one quarter (23%) report having done so in the past year. This behaviour was most common following barbeques near the beach or when on holidays. During these situations, many reported being more mindful of swimming between the flags or wading instead of swimming, in order to minimise the risk of getting into trouble. Men, who comprise 80% of coastal drowning deaths , are more likely to have consumed alcohol or drugs before swimming (30%, compared with 21% of women), while a much greater proportion of surfers and body boarders have done so (surfers 42% and body boarders 34%). Some surfers admit to surfing after a few drinks or when still affected from the night before, while others choose to swim instead. Despite this behaviour, many surfers recognise that alcohol consumption increases risk associated with the activity. 3

HAZARD PERCEPTION

Similarly, 85% of boaters think it is dangerous to consume alcohol while boating. This is more prominent among passengers (88%) than skippers (80%). Further, one-third of boaters reported they had consumed alcohol or drugs while on the water recently, with younger boaters (18-34 year olds) less likely to agree that it is dangerous (76%, compared to 87% of 35-49 year olds and 91% of people aged 50+). Among rock fishing participants, 99% of males who consider themselves ‘safety conscious’ think that fishing under the influence of alcohol is dangerous. In comparison, one in ten (7%) safety ambivalent males don’t think it is a risky behaviour. The consumption of alcohol among rock fishers is more common in Australian-born participants, who also rock fish as a social activity.

2014-2018 HOW OFTEN DO COASTAL SAFETY PARTICIPANTS AVOID ALCOHOL & DRUGS AS A SAFETY PRACTICE Can't say

2% 2%

8% 18%

1% 1%

11%

1% 3%

21%

Sometimes

Never

14%

2% 3% 17%

18% 20%

69%

These perceptions and behaviours related to alcohol and drug consumption are reflected in the fatal drowning data3; swimming/wading, boating and watercraft (including surfing) make up 58% of fatalities involving drugs and alcohol.

Swimming /Wading

65%

65%

Surfing/ Body Boarding

Watercraft

2% 4%

13%

Most of the time

2% 2%

1%

Always 1% 6%

8%

15%

17%

12%

73%

74%

Sailing/ Boating

Snorkelling

7%

1%

1% 4% 13% 3%

22%

59%

59%

Rock fishing

Fishing

78%

79%

Scuba Diving

PWC

2018 THE NUMBER OF STANDARD ALCOHOLIC DRINKS COASTAL ACTIVITY PARTICIPANTS BELIEVE IS REASONABLE TO CONSUME BEFORE UNDERTAKING ACTIVITIES Note: where data doesn’t add up to 100% there were participants who answered ‘can’t say’. 0 alcoholic drinks 8%

16%

1 or 2 standard alcoholic drinks 3%

6%

11% 21%

20%

17%

3 or more standard alcoholic drinks

2% 19%

3% 13%

1%

5%

14%

3%

13% 31% 91%

69%

70%

75%

75%

76%

83%

85%

[FISHING IS] A BIG SOCIAL THING AS I’VE GOTTEN OLDER. MY FRIENDS HAVE TRANSCENDED GOING TO THE PUB AND NOW GO FISHING INSTEAD. Born in Australia, unknown age

I FIND [SURFING] A GREAT SOBERING EXERCISE. Born in Australia, 25-49 years

51%

SOMETIMES I SURF THE BEST WHEN I’VE BEEN DRINKING.

IF I FEEL INTOXICATED I MIGHT JUST WADE, I WOULDN’T SWIM, COMMON SENSE TELLS ME NOT TO. Born overseas, 18-24 years

Born in Australia, 25-49 years Land-based Fishing

Rock Fishing

Watercraft

Swimming

Boating

Surfing

PWC

Snorkelling

Scuba Diving Reference: SLSA National Coastal Safety Survey 2014-18 (Averages)

Reference: SLSA National Coastal Safety Survey 2018

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CONCLUSION

A risk factor of fatal drowning, non-fatal drowning and injury associated with aquatic activity is alcohol and drug misuse. The reported 257 drowning deaths attributed to alcohol and drugs since 2004 are significant as they make up one-fifth (19%) of all coastal drowning deaths. With almost half (48%) of these cases occurring more than five kilometres from a lifesaving service, they highlight the risky nature of entering the water while under the influence and the importance of being responsible for oneself. Australian men continue to be over-represented in the drowning data, comprising 87% of all alcohol and drug related coastal drowning deaths. Three quarters (76%) of this demographic were aged 2054 years old; this age group tend to acknowledge that participating in coastal activities while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is dangerous. Despite this recognition, many continue to take the risk regardless8. Forty per cent of the deceased had consumed alcohol. A further 34% had consumed drugs including illicit drugs, and 26% had both alcohol and drugs (including prescription and over the counter medications)

in their system. Of the victims with alcohol in their blood, 83% were over the legal limit of 0.05% BAC. The complications that can occur under high levels of intoxication, including incapacitation and inability to respond to dangers, can be critical to people that are in or around water. This is well documented globally and is not limited to a single location or activity2. Swimming/wading and boating are activities involved in more than half (51%) of alcohol and drug related coastal drowning deaths. Some coastal activity participants report choosing to swim or wade over other coastal activities, such as surfing, after consuming alcohol. This is often associated with barbeques and socialising at beaches and in attempt to sober up after drinking. These behaviours reflect the common drinking culture that exists in Australia, and ones that require further attention to prevent future avoidable incidents. The prevalence of fatal coastal drownings that are attributed to alcohol and drugs has remained consistent over the past 14 years in Australia. These risk factors are challenging to mitigate however, Surf Life Saving will continue to strive to reduce these fatalities in Australia.

REFERENCES

Surf Life Saving Australia National Coastal Safety Report 2018 The Surf Life Saving Australia National Coastal Safety Report (NCSR) is published annually and contains information on Australian community behaviours and attitudes to the coast; SLS capability and membership capacity; rescues and emergency response; and coastal drowning deaths. The 2018 NCSR represents the statistics from the period of 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018. Trend analyses from 2004-18 are also included. All care is taken to ensure the statistical information included within this report is correct. However, pending the outcome of ongoing coronial investigations and as SLS state/territory entities update their operational information, this data may be amended. Drug and alcohol levels that are noted in this report are determined by the coroner and remain true at publication. Surf Life Saving Australia National Coastal Safety Surveys The annual Surf Life Saving Australia National Coastal Safety Surveys collect Information about community swimming ability, behaviours and attitudes to coastal safety. The survey is conducted by Newspoll Market Research and Omnipoll and is run online over a four-day period each April among a national sample of approximately 1,400 respondents aged 16 and over. The study is carried out in compliance with ISO 20252 - Market, Social and Opinion Research. To reflect the population distribution, results were postweighted (on age, gender, geographic strata and education) and projected to Australian Bureau of Statistics data. Ipsos Social Research Institute Research Reports The Ipsos Social Research Institute produced several reports for SLSA in 2016: The Swimming and Wading Research Report, Boating and Watercraft Research Report, Surfing and Body Boarding Research Report and Rock Fishing Research Report. Each report was a result of research comprised of two distinct methodological phases: a

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qualitative research component, followed by a quantitative research component. Both phases covered similar topic areas: attitudes and behaviours, risk perceptions and strategies, safety practices, information needs and sources, and interventions. The quantitative research phases were carried out from September 2015 to February 2016. This component comprised an online survey of approximately 1,000 coastal activity participants, followed by comprehensive analysis of the data. Given the geographic spread of the Australian coastline, Ipsos SRI used a representative sample of Australian participants, involving the application of non-interlocking quotas according to the following demographic characteristics : gender, age, state, and area. Weighting was then applied to the sample to ensure the representativeness of the data was maintained.

Rock Fishing Research Report 2016. Ipsos: Sydney 8. Surf Life Saving Australia National Coastal Safety Survey (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018). Newspoll Online Omnibus April 2014 and 2015, and an Omnipoll online panel in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Data correct at 24 July 2018. Changes may occur at a later date. © 2019 Surf Life Saving Australia This publication is copyright. Except as expressly provided in the Copyright Act 1968 and the Copyright Amendment Act 2006, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in any retrieval systems or transmitted by any means (including electronic, mechanical, micro-copying, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without prior permission from Surf Life Saving Australia.

Data illustrated in figures may not always add up to 100% due to rounding.

For enquiries concerning reproduction, contact SLSA on: phone 02 9215 8000; or email: info@slsa.asn.au

References 1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2017. National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016: detailed findings. Drug Statistics series no. 31. Cat. no. PHE 214. Canberra: AIHW.

Every attempt has been made to trace and acknowledge copyright, but in some cases this may not have been possible. Surf Life Saving Australia apologises for any accidental infringements and would welcome any information to redress the situation.

2. World Health Organisation 2014. Global report on drowning: preventing a leading killer. World Health Organization. www.who.int/iris/handle/10665/143893

Acknowledgements Surf Life Saving Australia wishes to thank Frederic Anne (Omnipoll) and Anika Martin (Graphic Design) for their contribution to this report.

3. Surf Life Saving Australia (2018) National Coastal Safety Report 2018. SLSA: Sydney. 4. Ipsos Social Research Institute (2016) Swimming and Wading Research Report 2016. Ipsos: Sydney

Suggested Citation Gonzaga, N., Ryan, A., Rijksen, E., Daw, S. (2018) Coastal Safety Brief: Alcohol & Drugs. Surf Life Saving Australia: Sydney.

5. Ipsos Social Research Institute (2016) Boating and Watercraft Research Report 2016. Ipsos: Sydney 6. Ipsos Social Research Institute (2016) Surfing and Body Boarding Research Report 2016. Ipsos: Sydney 7. Ipsos Social Research Institute (2016)

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Profile for SLSA

Coastal Safety Brief - Alcohol & Drugs  

Coastal Safety Brief - Alcohol & Drugs