Alcohol in rural and remote communities

People living in rural or remote areas may face a strong drinking culture and stressful issues such as drought and isolation. To reduce your risk of alcohol-related harm, make sure you look after your health, seek support, and drink as safely as possible.

Alcohol use is higher

If you live in a rural or remote area, you may face:

  • a strong drinking culture — where people often use alcohol for getting together with mates, relaxing and celebrating
  • limited choice for fun and socialising — the local pub or bar is often one of few options
  • boredom — this can lead people, especially young men, to drink heavily
  • limited access to health services — including doctors, alcohol counselling, alcohol treatment and psychologists
  • a lack of privacy — in small communities, it’s likely you know the local counsellor or nurse so may not want to talk to them about your drinking

You’re also more likely to face long-term issues such as:

  • droughts, fires and plagues
  • financial worries
  • isolation

These can lead to depression, stress, anxiety and other mental health issues. It’s common to use alcohol to try to deal with illnesses or stress. But alcohol can actually make things worse and can lead to other health and social problems.

Statistics show that alcohol-related deaths and hospitalisation are higher in rural and remote areas compared to urban areas.

How to reduce your risk

Understand the risks

Drinking alcohol is never safe. It can have short and long-term effects on your health, your work and your relationships. Make sure you’re aware of all the effects of alcohol.

Look after your health

Improving your mental health can help you to get through tough times without alcohol. Some proven ways to increase your wellbeing include:

  • get regular exercise and sleep
  • eat healthy food
  • stay connected with your family, friends and community
  • tackle the problems that are worrying you
  • talk about your problems with someone you trust
  • learn new things such as a new skill or hobby
  • help others — acts of kindness can improve your mental health
  • take part in activities you enjoy

Find more tips for good mental health on the Healthdirect website.

Manage your drinking

You can reduce your risk and enjoy a drink at the same time. To drink more safely, take a look at:

Seek help if you need it

If you feel like you’re not coping or your drinking is becoming a problem, see your doctor. It can be hard to ask for help, but your health and getting the support you need is the most important thing.

You can also:



eheadspace is a national online and phone support service for young people between 12 and 25. It covers a wide range of topics and issues affecting mental health. Contact them online or by phone from 9am to 1am AEST, every day.

Rural Financial Counselling Service contact

Contact the Rural Financial Counselling Service if you need help dealing with financial hardship. They can refer you to relevant professional services such as accountants, agricultural advisers, education or counselling services. This service is for farmers, fishing or forestry businesses.
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