Spotlight on alcohol and other drug specialist nurses


AOD nurses

The Nursing and Midwifery Office (NaMO) and Centre for Alcohol and Other Drugs (CAoD) at the NSW Ministry of Health, is celebrating alcohol and other drug (AOD) specialist nurses and midwives throughout March. This is an opportunity to acknowledge and highlight the inspirational work nurses and midwives do every day, making a real difference for clients and their families.

In December 2019, there were 1,595 presentations to emergency departments due to alcohol related harms across NSW. When a person is admitted they will be cared for by highly trained AOD specialist nurses.

AOD nurses play an important role in ensuring a holistic approach to treatment and consistency of care, they often follow a client throughout their treatment from their initial assessment.

 "It's a rewarding and meaningful career when you get to work across a broad range of settings and can really make a difference" — Jacqui Cross, Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer

In NSW there are currently 882 nurses and midwives specialising in alcohol and other drug health services, that is 32 per cent of the national AOD nursing workforce.

Specialist AOD nurses can be found working in a variety of fields including in Local Health Districts; within Opioid Treatment programs; detoxification, rehabilitation and day programs; community counselling; court diversion programs; research and education; and as consultation liaisons in Local Health Districts for non-governmental organisations.

AOD nurses and midwives also play a vital role in the non-governmental organisation (NGO) sector, working with alcohol and other drug service providers in nurse-led programs tailored to meet the needs of the community.

"Helping patients with addiction and seeing them happy and well again — that's the beauty of it. To see that we're doing for them is working, there's positive change." — Subiraj, RN, Drug Health Service Campbelltown Hospital

Becoming an AOD nurse or midwife

Working within a Local Health District alcohol and other drug service requires working collaboratively within a multidisciplinary health team to provide treatment, support, assessment, crisis intervention, case management, care planning and evaluation of nursing care to clients.

The work of an AOD specialist nurse in an NGO setting similarly draws on a broad range of skills, such as withdrawal management, mental health assessment or triage of physical health.

In any setting, working in alcohol and other drug service provides a stimulating and rewarding career path.

If you are already a nurse or midwife and thinking of becoming an AOD specialist nurse, visit Drug and Alcohol Nurses of Australasia (DANA) for more information and current employment opportunities.

For general information on becoming a nurse or midwife visit Careers in nursing and midwifery.

For free and confidential advice 24/7 call the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 1800 250 015. Counsellors are available to provide information, referrals, crisis counselling and support. Or start a Web Chat with an ADIS counsellor online Monday to Friday, 8.30am – 5pm. ADIS can also provide up-to-date information about service availability in your area during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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