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Final-decision-Newcastle-CBD-lockout-laws-remain-unchanged-following-NSW-Liquor-and-Gaming-review.aspx
  
21/09/2018 9:42 AMDIMAURO, Sophie

The NSW Liquor & Gaming Authority has published its final decision on the review of liquor license conditions of 14 late night trading hotels located in Newcastle CBD. The Authority has confirmed minimal changes and no alterations to the current lock out laws, following an independent review and submissions from licensees.

After the Authority's initial response to the review was published and communicated to stakeholders in April 2018, licensees had, under law, a period of 21 days to respond.

The Authority has also decided to make no changes to:

  • the existing lockout and closing hours,
  • the conditions in respect of:
    • the cessation of liquor supply 30 minutes before closing, and
    • the prohibition on the stockpiling of drinks.

The minor changes that are to be implemented include no longer requiring the use of a common radio network, and plans of management to be reviewed annually rather than quarterly.

Chair of the Authority Philip Crawford announced: "The case for maintaining existing patron lockout restrictions in the 14 Newcastle venues, and for maintaining requirements for the sale or supply of liquor to cease 30 minutes before closing, was strong."

Earlier this year, Mr Jonathan Horton QC was requested by the Authority to conduct a review of conditions imposed by the former NSW Liquor Administration Board in 2008 and the impact this has had on reducing alcohol-related violence. Following this request, Mr Horton released the Horton Report, advising the Authority on the current liquor licence conditions.

Why was the Horton Report created?

Liquor licence conditions were imposed in Newcastle CBD in 2008 following community, police and medical practitioner concerns about late night alcohol-related violence. Since then, there have been many demographic, development and regulatory changes in the area.

Mr Horton stated that although the 2008 liquor conditions were reliable in preventing alcohol-related violence at that time, some of these conditions have now become out-dated.

"Newcastle is no longer in need of a 'solution': what is required is a licensing regime which prevents a return to past problems and allows for the City to develop in a balanced way and in accordance with community expectations, needs and aspirations," wrote Mr Horton.

What conditions were considered?

As a result of the report and under the Liquor Act 2007, the Authority has acted on Mr Horton's recommendations.

Importantly, Mr Horton recommended trading hours remain the same as the existing hours as they "have proved successful in reducing alcohol-related violence to an acceptable level, since those hours were set". Horton went on to state, "to increase the hours would, in all likelihood, lead to greater violence".

Mr Horton's recommendations also included changing the conditions surrounding notification of licence conditions to staff, as well as a new requirement for each licensee to update their Plans of Management and perform an annual review of these in consultation with NSW Police.

After 10pm, Mr Horton recommended "drinks commonly known as shots, shooters, slammers or bombs or any other drinks that are designed to be consumed rapidly" are prohibited.

Who was involved?

Mr Horton conducted a process of public consultation between November 2017 and February 2018, where he received over 90 written submissions from a variety of stakeholders. This included NSW Police, public health bodies, academics, licensed businesses, industry bodies, private individuals and special interest groups.

Following the Authority's decision the licensees were provided with a period of 21 days to respond.

Mr Crawford commented: "We would like to express our gratitude to those members of the community who provided the written and oral submissions that informed the Horton Report."

The Horton report can be read in full here.

How important is language when it comes to discussing alcohol and drugs, and the people who use them? Find out by reading our article on why language matters 

21/09/2018Final decision: Newcastle CBD lockout laws remain unchanged following NSW Liquor & Gaming review
What-is-the-Drug-and-Alcohol-Multicultural-Education-Centre.aspx
  
20/09/2018 1:47 PMDIMAURO, Sophie

​Alcohol and other drugs are understood in many different ways across many different cultures. Our cultural backgrounds inform how we respond to everyday life, our successes, our struggles and our crises. What may be considered 'natural' or 'normal' to one person, might not apply to the next.

According to multicultural marketing agency Etcom, 28 per cent of the NSW population were born overseas with the majority of this percentage being born in China, followed by England, India and New Zealand. In the Western Sydney region, (the fastest growing region in Australia), English is the second language, with Mandarin the second largest language spoken in NSW.

Although rates of problematic alcohol and other drug (AOD) use may be lower in some overseas-born communities, state services are often not accessed by those from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities for reasons including:

  • Lack of knowledge of Australian health and treatment systems
  • Lower rates of referral to some programs
  • Lack of culturally accessible services
  • Fear of visa/immigration implications

These factors position CALD communities at risk for AOD harms, which is why it is crucial for these communities to be aware that catered support and assistance is available.

Drug & Alcohol Multicultural Education Centre

logo.pngThe Drug & Alcohol Multicultural Education Centre (DAMEC) is a non-government organisation whose primary purpose is to reduce the harms associated with the use of alcohol and other drugs (AOD) within CALD communities in NSW.

DAMEC provides counselling and case management programs; health promotion, research and community development projects. It provides clients with equal treatment, helping them to live happier and healthier lives while having strong relationships with their community and family.

DAMEC receives funding from the NSW Ministry of Health and the Australian Government.

Who is it for?

DAMEC is a free and confidential service that is open to everyone. The service can help:

  • People who want to address their substance use (past or present)
  • Spouses/Partners
  • Families of people with substance use problems including parents, siblings and extended family
  • Carers, friends and other support people

What can DAMEC offer me?

DAMEC's counselling service is a specialist multicultural service that focuses on meeting the needs of people from CALD communities. The service offers a strengths-based model modified to be culturally responsive, and where possible provided in key community languages. They also run group programs.

DAMEC staff are bilingual and can speak: Arabic, Cantonese, Khmer, English, Mandarin, Teo Chiew, Vietnamese, Lao, Ewe, Ga, Akan, Liberian Creole, Samoan, and Farsi.

DAMEC is able to access the Translator and Interpreter Services for other community languages.

Counselling and support

DAMEC has a team of qualified counsellors, psychotherapists and psychologists providing support, information and exploring new ways of looking at issues with you. They can help you to clarify, understand and find solutions to your problem. The DAMEC team offer:

  • Drug, alcohol and psychological assessments
  • One-to-one counselling
  • Referrals to other services

Complementary to the individual support it offers, DAMEC also provides family support services that include family assessments and case management support; group work, home visits; and referrals to other services.

As part of delivering universal healthcare in a culturally diverse society, DAMEC also assists other services to respond to the alcohol and drug-related needs of CALD communities. DAMEC provides training, consultancy and advice on the development of culturally appropriate interventions and staff cultural competency.DAMEC 2.png

The Transitions Project

The Transitions project provides intensive case management for Arabic and Vietnamese-speaking people who have a history of drug and alcohol related issues and who are leaving prison. Assessment and support are provided pre-release and continue for up to six months post-release, however clients are able to continue in the program after the six month period depending on their circumstances

Transitions works with people intending to reside in Sydney and offers practical, personal assistance. This includes information, referrals, advocacy, home visits, family support and mentoring.

Providing a better understanding

Through research and evaluation, DAMEC aims to provide a better understanding of substance use, and access to treatment among CALD communities in NSW. Exploring effective and appropriate AOD service provision with CALD groups is a key focus of DAMEC's work.

DAMEC collaborates across sectors, primarily working with AOD, mental health and multicultural agencies to better understand trends, barriers, and strengths.

Like all DAMEC work, research is accountable to CALD communities first and foremost, to the AOD sector and multicultural organisations, and to NSW Health and other state and federal funding bodies.

DAMEC's Research Framework supports the delivery of high quality research and evaluation by outlining the various staff roles and responsibilities, governance procedures and ethical review standards.

Access DAMEC's 'Respect: Best practice approaches for working with culturally diverse clients in AOD treatment settings' resource here.

Are drugs and alcohol a problem for you or someone you care about? Contact DAMEC today on 8706 0150 or visit www.damec.org.au

Want to know whether your drinking habits are putting you at risk? Find out with the Your Room Risk Assessment.


20/09/2018What is the Drug & Alcohol Multicultural Education Centre?
Community-Drug-Action-Teams-Giving-the-NSW-public-a-voice-.aspx
  
17/09/2018 10:52 AMDIMAURO, Sophie

​It's easy to feel helpless when we hear about all the alcohol and other drug problems facing our society and within our communities. But did you know there are tools available for you to make a difference?

The good news is that every community member has a real opportunity to contribute in reducing alcohol and other drugs (AOD) harms in their local area through joining a Community Drug Action Team (CDAT). 

What is a CDAT?

CDATs are made up of passionate and dedicated volunteers who love their local area and want the best for their community. Across NSW CDATs are leading AOD prevention projects in their communities.

Since their inception in 1999, CDATs have led thousands of community activities to engage young people, parents and the local community in preventing alcohol and other drug-related harms. The Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) supports the CDATs through the Community Engagement and Action Program (CEAP) funded by NSW Health.

Why are CDATs important?

Community members regularly see first-hand the harm that AOD misuse can cause in their local area, but counting the visible harms only scratches the surface. There are more hidden harms and costs that aren't as well known, or rarely considered.

For example, the NSW Auditor-General estimates the societal cost of alcohol misuse, in NSW alone, is $3.87 billion a year (or over $1,500 per household).

Australian and International research shows that AOD is linked to:

  • family and domestic violence
  • assault
  • fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
  • drink driving
  • accidents and injuries
  • anti-social behaviour
  • suicide

There is also a considerable cost to and loss of public amenity through:

  • use of police resources
  • use of emergency department resources
  • ambulance callouts
  • public and private property damage
  • litter and public nuisance

However, training and resources provided through CDATs allow people to share skills and AOD knowledge across and beyond the community – contributing to positive change.

Community initiatives can make communities stronger, healthier and better places to live. CDATs provide a unique platform and opportunity for collaborative action by different agencies and groups.

Regulate the sale of alcohol near you

Studies show that one way to reduce alcohol related harm is to regulate the sale of alcohol. Reducing hours during which on-premise alcohol outlets can sell late at night can substantially reduce rates of alcohol-related violence.

Community voices are often missing in the decision-making process for regulating the availability of alcohol. Barriers such as the complexity of the licensing system, being time and resource poor, or not understanding the true level of cost and harm from alcohol, all prevent the community from being actively involved.

However, a step-by-step toolkit developed by NSW Health and the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF), can help communities have a say in the decision-making process for regulating the availability of alcohol.

Access the ADF toolkit here.

Who can join a CDAT?

Anyone concerned about drug and alcohol issues can join their local CDAT. CDATs typically involve a diverse range of people, all of whom share a commitment to reducing harms from drugs and alcohol.

Some members may have personal experience of problem alcohol or drug use, and being involved in a CDAT is their way of helping to prevent similar problems emerging for others. A broad range of community members and organisations plus a good balance between voluntary and professional involvement makes a CDAT stronger and more effective, and provides it with skills, talents and resources.

Together we can make a difference. Your local CDAT needs you! Find out how to become a CDAT member here.

Do you know the facts about drugs and alcohol? Test your knowledge by visiting The Quiz Room here.

17/09/2018Community Drug Action Teams: Giving the NSW public a voice
Trust-your-gut-instinct-and-ask-R-U-OK.aspx
  
10/09/2018 9:41 AMDIMAURO, Sophie

Got a niggling feeling that someone you know or care about it isn't behaving as they normally would? Perhaps they seem out of sorts? More agitated or withdrawn? Or they're just not themselves? Trust that gut instinct and act on it.

By starting a conversation and commenting on the changes you've noticed, you could help that family member, friend or workmate open up. If they say they are not ok, you can follow our conversation steps to show them they're supported and help them find strategies to better manage the load. If they are ok, that person will know you're someone who cares enough to ask.

Thursday 13th of September is R U OK? Day – a national day of action that is dedicated to reminding everyone that any day is the day to ask, "Are you ok?" and support those struggling with life. Taking part can be as simple as learning R U OK?'s four steps so you can have a conversation that could change a life:

1. Ask

2. Listen

3. Encourage action

4. Check in

Why is it important?

Suicide prevention is an enormously complex and sensitive challenge the world over. But we also know that some of the world's smartest people have been working tirelessly and developed credible theories that suggest there's power in that simplest of questions - "Are you ok?

One of the most significant theories is by United States academic, Dr Thomas Joiner. Because his father took his own life, Thomas has dedicated his research to try and answer that question "why?"

His theory tries to answer that complex question by describing three forces at play in someone at risk. The first force is the person thinks they're a burden on others; the second is that they can withstand a high degree of pain; and the third is they don't feel connected to others.

It's this lack of connection (or lack of belonging) that R U OK? is trying to address. By inspiring people to take the time to ask "Are you ok?" and listen, we can help people struggling with life feel connected long before they even think about suicide. It all comes down to regular, face-to-face, meaningful conversations about life. And asking "Are you ok?" is a great place to start. Find out how to ask here.

A future vision

R U OK? is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life. Their vision is a world where we're all connected and are protected from suicide. The campaign hopes to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life.

As well as helping to start these conversations, R U OK? is working with experts in the field to monitor how these conversations impact on Australia's suicide rate.

Staying connected and having meaningful conversations is something we can all do. You don't need to be an expert - just a good friend and a great listener. So, if you notice someone who might be struggling - start a conversation.

Although R U OK? Day is the national day of action, every day is the day to start a conversation. Conversation tips and crisis numbers can be found at www.ruok.org.au

If you or someone you know needs help, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

To start a conversation about alcohol and other drugs today visit our support and treatment page here to find the best course of action for you.


10/09/2018Trust your gut instinct & ask: R U OK?
Drug-info-hub-tours-NSW.aspx
  
7/09/2018 3:29 PMDIMAURO, Sophie

The Drug & Alcohol Info Hub could be on its way to a library near you! This year the travelling interactive information display is being provided to selected public libraries across the state on a 3-week rotational basis.

From September 11-27th the hub will be at Kempsey Shire Library. On September 17th the library will be hosting a Pregnancy & Alcohol Talk with NSW Health, followed by a Mocktail Monday class where visitors will be able to come along and taste literary-inspired mocktails such as 'Grape Expectations'.

Due to the popularity of the hubs a third display was created so that they can be hosted by one metropolitan and two country libraries at the same time.

The aim of the program is to provide people with up to date and accessible information about drugs and alcohol, identify support networks and agencies within the local community and provide people with discussion points around drug and alcohol issues in their community.

Visit the Drug Info website here to find out where the hub will be next. For more information contact Kempsey Library Shire on 6566 3210

Do you know the facts about drugs and alcohol? Test your knowledge by visiting The Quiz Room here.

Drug Info 3.PNG

7/09/2018Drug info hub tours NSW
Overdose-Awareness-Day-Ending-stigma-and-raising-awareness-of-the-risks-associated-with-overdose.aspx
  
30/08/2018 4:24 PMDIMAURO, Sophie

​On International Overdose Awareness Day (August 31st) NSW Health reiterates the importance of ending the stigma surrounding drug use and dependence as often, this judgement can prevent people who use drugs from accessing support and treatment.

International Overdose Awareness Day aims to raise awareness of overdose risks, reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths, and acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have been lost or impacted by drug overdose.

Every year thousands of people in Australia overdose on prescription or illicit drugs, with a proportion of these overdoses being life-threatening.

Drug overdose deaths are predominantly driven by the use of opioids in combination with other drugs and alcohol. But overdose deaths can be prevented.

Professor Nick Lintzeris, Director of the South East Sydney's Local Health District Drug & Alcohol Service commented: "Drug and alcohol services and needle and syringe programs services in NSW have trialled a model for training our patients to prevent and recognise overdoses, and to correctly administer naloxone if someone they care about experiences an overdose.

"People who use drugs have shown they are committed to making a difference to the lives of their peers. We need to support them to do that."

Naloxone is a medicine that people can administer to a friend or loved one, to reverse the effects of an overdose from heroin or other opioid drugs.

If you use heroin/opioids or know someone who does, you can now buy naloxone at pharmacies, without a doctor's prescription, for use in the event of an overdose emergency.   You can ask your pharmacy to order this medication for you. Always be prepared and have naloxone on-hand before using heroin/opioids.

Mary Harrod, Chief Executive of NSW Users and AIDS Association (NUAA) said: "Overdose deaths have continued to increase in Australia with this preventable, tragic loss of life now exceeding the road toll.

"Each death is a tragedy and the impact on family, friends and the community is enormous. We need to raise our voices and say that not enough is being done – we need more education and prevention such as broad distribution of naloxone. If you or a loved one is at risk, please take a few simple steps to prevent overdose – never use alone, and don't mix drugs or mix drugs and alcohol."

NSW Health has a range of initiatives to minimise the risk from drug-related overdose and deaths, including:

  • The Opioid Treatment program -  a successful, evidence based public health program shown to improve the quality of life and well-being of patients and provide significant reductions in adverse health, social and criminal consequences;
  • Funding the trial to supply naloxone to people through drug and alcohol and needle and syringe programs in metropolitan, rural and regional NSW;
  • Regulating the prescribing and dispensing of Schedule 8 drugs of addiction;
  • Working with the Commonwealth to develop real time prescription monitoring to reduce the misuse of pharmaceutical drugs;
  • Information and advice for the community on the risks of pharmaceutical drugs provided through the NSW Health and the Your Room websites.

To speak to someone about naloxone, call the Alcohol & Drug Information Service (ADIS) – a free 24 hour helpline on 1800 250 015. If you or someone you care about is at risk of overdose, visit the NUAA website: www.nuaa.org.au

Want to learn more about some of the most commonly used drugs affecting Australians right now? Check out the Your Room A-Z Drug listing here.

31/08/2018Overdose Awareness Day: Ending stigma & raising awareness of overdose risks
Skip-the-booze-this-Father’s-Day-.aspx
  
30/08/2018 4:07 PMDIMAURO, Sophie

​With Father's Day fast approaching this Sunday (2nd Sept) Australian's across the country are scratching their heads trying to decide what gift to give Dad this year. To avoid offering the same old socks, jumpers, and chocolates, it's easy to see alcohol as the answer.

But are you aware of the risks associated with alcohol consumption?

The facts:

Each year on Father's Day Australian's spend $34 million on liquor, as a gesture of appreciation for fathers, according to research company IBIS World. However, when we look at the facts, the gift of booze could be having a detrimental impact on your Dad's health.

Recent evidence published in The Lancet shows that no level of alcohol consumption is safe for your health. The risk of all-cause mortality, and of cancers specifically, rises with increasing levels of consumption.

It was also revealed that alcohol is the leading global risk factor for death and disability for those aged 15-49 years.

Substantial health loss

In addition to this, the latest report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) found that the consumption of alcohol is one of the three major causes of preventable disease and illness in Australia (the other two being tobacco and other drugs).

Around a third of Australians aged 14 and over drank more than four standard drinks in one sitting, contrary to guidelines. Alcohol is the most commonly used drug in Australia and according to the 2016 report by NSW Health, in NSW  a quarter of all adults drink at levels placing their long-term health at risk.

Alcohol availability

The sale of alcohol is widespread. It's easy for people to access their preferred choice of alcohol as and when they want, including online – making alcohol increasingly difficult to avoid for those who may have an issue.

In 2015–16, there were 189.1 million litres of pure alcohol available for consumption through alcoholic beverages in Australia (AIHW).

A 2016 study by the Sax Institute for NSW Ministry of Health, found that reducing the hours alcohol outlets can sell late at night can substantially reduce rates of alcohol-related violence. There are also many studies that have found changes in the density of alcohol outlets are associated with changes in the rate of health problems with a community.

Give your Dad a healthy Father's Day

Why not give your Dad a healthy alternative this Father's Day? Avoid buying booze and give something that can keep your Dad healthy and strong.

Get Healthy is a free telephone-based coaching service that provides people in NSW over 18 with a personal health coach to guide and support them on their journey to live a healthy life. Why not let your Dad know about it if you or he is concerned about his drinking or weight? Help your dad to drink less alcohol, get active and eat well.

If you want to talk to someone about alcohol call the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 1800 250 015. It is a free, 24-hour phone service offering information, support and advice.

Want to know whether your drinking habits are putting you at risk? Find out with the Your Room Risk Assessment.

30/08/2018Skip the booze this Father’s Day
Party-safe-Top-tips-to-stay-safe-at-music-festivals.aspx
  
29/08/2018 4:17 PMDIMAURO, Sophie

Every year Australian music festivals attract crowds of thousands to witness world renowned musicians and DJs do their thing on stage. The festival atmosphere is an awesome experience and opportunity to make some incredible memories.

Make all your festival experiences ones to remember with these top tips to party safely:

  • If you're drinking alcohol, keep track of how many drinks you've had to avoid injury or making yourself sick.
  • Using illicit drugs like ecstasy, LSD or methamphetamine come with risks. You don't know the purity, what other things have been added to them, strength or how it'll affect you. Avoid mixing alcohol with other drugs. 
  • Seek help if you feel unwell. You won't get into trouble for telling a medical professional what drugs you've taken.

Eat, hydrate and stay cool

  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially if you're drinking alcohol.
  • Eat well before the festival and allow time for the food to digest. Have regular snacks throughout the festival to keep yourself going.
  • Alcohol and other drugs can affect your body's ability to regulate temperature. Heat stroke and hypothermia can easily happen. Wear sun protection, take regular breaks in the shade and have warm clothes ready for when the sun goes down. 

Take care of your mates

  • You're a mate, not a doctor so don't be afraid to seek help for someone who is unwell.   
  • It's a good idea to stay close to your mates. Agree on a place and time to meet, in case you get separated. Don't rely on your mobile phone – your battery could go flat or the network coverage could be overloaded.

Take care of your mental health

  • Festivals can become overwhelming. If you're feeling overwhelmed or anxious, tell a trusted friend how you feel and move away from loud music. Find a calm place to chill out. Many festivals in NSW have friendly chill out areas run by organisations like the Red Cross who are there to help if you're not sure how you're feeling or need someone to talk too.
  • Some drugs, such as psychedelics, can enhance negative feelings like anxiety or bad thoughts. Avoid alcohol or drugs if you are already feeling emotional, depressed or anxious. Don't make any important decisions about life or relationships during a festival!

Practice safe sex

  • If you hook up with someone, be prepared and take condoms with you.  Sexual consent must be explicit. Consent might be different for everyone, but it should be enthusiastic and certain.  People under the influence of drugs and alcohol may not be able to consent. If in doubt, put off having sex until they're sober. 
  • Be aware of drink spiking. Buy and pour your own drinks. Don't accept drinks from strangers.

Think about how you'll get home

  • Before the festival, plan your way home and make sure you have enough money to pay for transport.
  • Public transport is often the safest transport option. Remember that it's illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol or any illicit drug and it's not safe to drive until you are fully alert, sober and well rested. 
  • Never get in a car with someone who has been drinking or taking illicit drugs.

Know what's right for you

  • Decide what's right for you on issues like sex, drugs and alcohol. Knowing where you stand makes it easier to stay true to yourself.
  • If you don't want to experiment with drugs, you're not alone! Most young people haven't used drugs or don't want to.
  • Don't do anything you don't want to do – your mates will respect you more for standing up for yourself.

Visit the Play Safe website to find out everything you need to know about safe sex and consent.

For accurate information about commonly used party drugs check out the Your Room A-Z Drug listing here.

29/08/2018Party safe: Top tips to stay safe at music festivals
What-is-FASD.aspx
  
29/08/2018 11:59 AMDIMAURO, Sophie

​Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a type of acquired brain injury that is caused when alcohol is consumed during pregnancy. A baby born with FASD can have life-long problems with learning, growth, behaviour, memory, language, communication and everyday living. They may also have birth defects and facial abnormalities.

FASD is the leading cause of non-genetic, developmental disability in Australia. Although FASD is completely preventable, there is no cure and it is a condition that a person has for life.

Most children with FASD show no visible signs and can often go undiagnosed but could have the following behavioural characteristics:

  • Physical and emotional developmental delay
  • Impaired speech and language development
  • Learning problems, e.g. poor memory
  • Difficulty controlling behaviour

FASD is a condition that is a result of parents either not being aware of the dangers of alcohol use when pregnant or planning a pregnancy, or not being supported to stay healthy and strong during pregnancy.

According to Louise Gray, executive officer of the National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (NOFASD) Australia , FASD is the most prevalent and preventable disability in the world. It does not discriminate based on ethnicity, creed, wealth or socioeconomic status.

Dr Doug Shelton, Paediatrician, Gold Coast Hospital & Health Service, has stated that FASD is much more common in Australia than what we think and is spread across every area of our society.

The facts

Drinking alcohol at any time during pregnancy - even before the pregnancy is confirmed -increases the risk of FASD, miscarriage, stillbirth, and perinatal death. The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) states that alcohol is a 'teratogen' which means it is a known substance that causes birth defects.

When a pregnant woman drinks, alcohol moves through her body ('circulates') in the bloodstream, and also enters the baby's bloodstream via the placenta - in the same concentration. Because the baby is small and developing, it has little to no ability to metabolise the alcohol, which therefore affects the development of the baby's brain.

The level of harm caused by FASD is dependent on a range of factors, most predominantly the amount and frequency of alcohol consumed but also:

  • Generational alcohol use by either parent
  • Age of the mother
  • Health of the mother (e.g. nutrition, mental health, tobacco and other drug use)
  • Environmental factors (e.g. stress, exposure to violence, poverty)

There is no safe time to drink alcohol during pregnancy and no safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy.

After birth, the babies of alcohol dependent mothers can suffer withdrawal symptoms, including tremors, irritability and fits. FASD, on the other hand, is usually not noticed until the child reaches school age when behavioural and learning difficulties become more evident.

FASD in Australia

Not much accurate data on the prevalence of FASD in Australia is available but in the United States it is estimated that FASD affects roughly between two per cent and five per cent of the population. The prevalence may be as high as 12 per cent in some high-risk Indigenous communities, according to the Australian Medical Association (Aug 24, 2016).

 

The importance of diagnosis

Diagnosis of FASD is important so that we can understand the unique learning needs of the individual. Without diagnosis and appropriate intervention, people affected by a FASD may also develop secondary disabilities which can manifest over time. These include:

  • Mental health problems
  • Contact with the criminal justice system
  • Incomplete education (suspension, expulsion or truancy)
  • Inappropriate sexual behaviour
  • Problems with parenting
  • Unemployment and homelessness
  • Alcohol and other drug use

Support & awareness

Positive outcomes can be achieved when an individual and their family are appropriately supported to understand the behaviour as a symptom of brain damage.

It is therefore vital that awareness of FASD grows. Knowing about FASD is not the same as understanding FASD.  NOFASD believe the use of an "FASD lens" to develop strategies and support on an individual basis according to each client's presenting behaviours and strengths, is necessary to avoid making mistakes in case planning and case management for children or adults living with FASD and their caregivers.

A positive outlook

With the right support and early interventions, good outcomes across a range of life goals are more likely to be achieved.

A circle of collaboration between health professionals, the family, school and service providers ensures the best opportunities for people with FASD.

Read more about alcohol, pregnancy and breastfeeding here. For health information and content about pregnancy, having a young baby and how alcohol during pregnancy can affect a baby's development check out the Stay Strong and Healthy Facebook page here.

Want to learn more about the effects of alcohol? Check out the Your Room selection of publications.

28/08/2018What is FASD?
Take-action-with-Community-Engagement-Action-Program-grants!.aspx
  
27/08/2018 10:22 AMDIMAURO, Sophie

​The 2018 Community Engagement Action Program (CEAP) grants are occurring, with up to $10k available for a Partnership Project grant.

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) has announced that Community Drug Action Teams (CDATs) are eligible for a Core Grant of up to $3,500 to help them fund their operational costs and smaller activities. In recognition of feedback, the ADF has also increased the amount, so for GST applicable auspice organisations the CDAT can apply for up to $3,850.

Application dates for the Core Grant application open September 3rd 2018 and close at 11:59 on September 28th 2018. The ADF is also providing organisations with the opportunity to apply for Partnership/Project funding of $10,000, following feedback from last year's round.

If your organisation wants to be considered for the Partnership/Project funding, contact your local CDAT to start planning your proposal. Application dates open October 8th 2018 and close at 11:59 on November 9th 2018

What are the requirements?

This year the ADF has changed priority areas, by introducing two new areas to align the CDATs even closer to NSW Health's work and to (further) foster partnerships with key stakeholders:

  • Working with the community to help regulate the availability of alcohol and prevent alcohol related harms
  • Working with priority population groups such as Aboriginal people, CALD communities, LGBTQI people
  • Working with community members to address age-specific alcohol and other drug issues, with the target age groups being young and/or older adults
  • Working together with local and regional libraries to produce community Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) information and education events
  • Working with families to help manage the impact of AOD on the family and support those in need
  • Working in partnership with NSW Health population health and drug and alcohol services (through Local Health Districts) to address emerging community AOD issues
  • Others (including Crystalline Methamphetamine, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), safer celebrations)

CDATs are local groups of passionate volunteers leading Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) prevention projects aiming to strengthen their communities across NSW. Find out how to become a CDAT member here.

For more information about the Core Grant and the Partnership/Project Grant visit the ADF website here.

Read why everyone has a role to play in preventing alcohol-related harm here.

27/08/2018Take action with Community Engagement Action Program grants!
Baby-boomers-and-alcohol.-Are-they-just-having-a-good-time-or-is-it-a-growing-health-issue.aspx
  
28/08/2018 11:18 AMDIMAURO, Sophie

When we think about harmful drinking habits Millennials and Gen-Z are the age groups that come to mind with their apparent binge drinking, shot-taking and all-night-raving. However when we look at the facts, it's clear that we also need to think about the Baby Boomer generation.

Born in an era of social and economic change, Baby Boomers and their successors Generation X are continuing their drinking habits into their older years and it's putting them at increasing risk. The frequency of their alcohol consumption paired with their changing physiology should be a cause for concern.

The facts:

According to the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS), young people today are more likely to abstain from alcohol, illicit drugs and tobacco than any time since 2001. Alcohol consumption is actually decreasing among young people.

Meanwhile, alcohol consumption and associated health risks are increasing in people aged 50 years and over and there is a rapidly expanding aging population. The NDSHS survey found that single occasion risk drinking has been declining in NSW in other age groups except people aged 50-64 years where there has been an increasing trend since 2010.

Very high risk drinking (11 or more standard drinks) at least monthly increased significantly for people aged 50-59 years in Australia between 2013 and 2016, while decreasing for younger age groups.

A lifetime risk for Baby Boomers

The NSW Population Health Survey 2016 also found that lifetime risk drinking is increasing among people aged 45-64 years and older people were more likely to drink every day than younger people.

Baby Boomers have increased risk of alcohol-related harm due to their changing physiology and reduced ability to metabolise alcohol. In older people excessive alcohol consumption is associated with falls, car accidents, suicides and mental health issues, chronic diseases and cancer. In addition, co-morbidities and concurrent use of medicines can mean any level of alcohol consumption becomes risky and problematic.

Alcohol is also a significant contributor to premature death and hospitalisation among older Australians – among 65–74-year-olds, almost 600 die every year from injury and disease caused by drinking above the NHMRC 2001 guideline levels, and a further 6,500 are hospitalised (Chikritzhs & Pascal 2005). In 2014-15, alcohol related hospital admissions and deaths were highest in older age groups (NSW APEDDR 2017).

Underestimating the impact of drinking habits

Until recently, alcohol use by older people has been largely unrecognised and older generations are often unaware of the risks of their alcohol use. Families may also be unaware, and alcohol related health issues can be dismissed as part of the aging process.

The Federation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) found that in the 50+ age group 82 per cent were comfortable with how much they drank and only 53 per cent were aware of the national alcohol guidelines. Further to this, FARE found that while the majority of Australians associate illness such as cirrhosis of the liver (74 per cent) and liver cancer (69 per cent) with alcohol consumption, few were aware of the link between alcohol and heart disease, stroke, mouth and throat cancer, and breast cancer.

The guidelines

Although the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) alcohol guidelines state drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day reduces the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury, it also states that this applies to healthy men and women. According to the guidelines:

"Age is an important determinant of health risks related to alcohol. Harm from alcohol-related disease is more evident among older people.

"Those taking medication, people with alcohol-related or other physical conditions, and people with mental health conditions may need to seek professional advice about drinking."

Preventing harm

The time to act is now - it is projected that the NSW population aged 50 years and older will grow by 46 per cent, to 3.8 million by 2036 (CEE 2017).

While not everyone who drinks alcohol will experience harm, the less alcohol you drink the lower your risk. There is no 'safe' alcohol limit but the less alcohol consumed the better.

To prevent harm caused by alcohol, quit drinking today. Across the globe there are millions of people who live alcohol free. If you're not ready to quit, cut down your alcohol intake or speak to someone that can help guide you towards a healthier lifestyle – like your GP or another health professional.

You can also contact the Get Healthy Service. Get Healthy is a free telephone-based coaching service that provides NSW residents over 18 with a free personal health coach to guide and support them on their journey to live a healthy life - helping you to drink less alcohol, get active and eat well.

If alcohol is a problem for you, seek help. Find out which support and treatment is best for you here. Or call the free Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) support line for more information: 1800 250 015

Want to know whether your drinking habits are putting you at risk? Find out with the Your Room Risk Assessment.

27/08/2018Baby boomers + alcohol: Just having a good time or a growing health issue?
Alcohol,-tobacco-and-other-drugs-in-Australia-Recent-trends-report-.aspx
  
24/08/2018 10:13 AMDIMAURO, Sophie

The latest report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) claims that the consumption of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs is a major cause of preventable disease and illness in Australia.

Consolidating the most recently available information on alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, the report highlights a strong link between problematic alcohol or other drug use and experience of homelessness.

Tobacco

The report also analysed the key trends in the availability, consumption, harms and treatment for vulnerable populations and found that tobacco smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Australia.

Although daily tobacco smoking in Australia has declined since 1991 from 24.3 per cent to 12.2 per cent, it is the leading cause of cancer.

Data also found that 57 per cent of daily smokers were aged over 40 in 2016 and 20 per cent of daily smokers lived in remote and very remote areas of Australia.

Alcohol

The report found that the majority of Australians aged 14 years and over consume alcohol, however the proportion of people drinking in excess of lifetime and single occasion risk guidelines has been declining since 2010 and continues to decline.

Despite this downward trend, alcohol was the most common principal drug of concern for which clients sought treatment in 2016-2017.

Around 1 in 3 (36 per cent) Australians aged 14 and over exceeded the single occasion risk guidelines by consuming more than four standard drinks in one sitting.

Drugs

Cannabis remains the most widely used illicit drug in the country and people who inject drugs experience considerable poorer health outcomes than other drug users.

According to the report, deaths involving methamphetamine were four times higher in 2016 than in 1999. Deaths where benzodiazepines or other opioids were present have increased since 2006.

Treatment where heroin was the principal drug of concern has declined over the past 10 years from 10.5 per cent in 2008 to 5.2 per cent in 2017.

Non-medical use of pharmaceutical drugs

One of the key findings of the report revealed that non-medical use of pharmaceutical drugs is an increasing public health problem in Australia, with evidence suggesting increasing prevalence of misuse and associated harms including mortality.

Between 2006 and 2016, the number of deaths where benzodiazepines or other opioids were present rose by 168 per cent and 127 per cent, respectively.

In 2016, 1 in 20 (4.8 per cent) Australians aged 14 and over reported misusing a pharmaceutical drug in the previous 12 months.

You can view the report in more detail here.

Do you know the facts about drugs and alcohol? Test your knowledge by visiting The Quiz Room here.

24/08/2018Alcohol, tobacco & other drugs in Australia: Recent trends report
What-to-do-if-you-need-help-with-alcohol-and-other-drugs.aspx
  
16/08/2018 10:58 AMDIMAURO, Sophie

​If you want to cut down or stop your use of alcohol, would like to gain more knowledge around different drugs, or just have a few general questions about alcohol and other drugs, it can be difficult to know who to talk to.

Talking about drugs and alcohol when you may be experiencing issues is especially hard. Decades of criminalisation has resulted in judgement and shame surrounding drug use, which often stops people looking for help and accessing treatment.

Often people looking for support are worried about being judged or that their questions will not be confidential. In reality, there are many confidential services, helplines and organisations in NSW and the rest of Australia that can help those with drug or alcohol issues by focusing on the person, not their substance use.

How do I know if treatment is needed?

If your drug or alcohol use is negatively impacting on your health, family, relationships, work, school or other social situations, you may need to seek help. Support services are available for you, your family and friends.

Professional treatment

If you're trying to reduce or stop your use of substances, seeking professional help can be a good idea.

Drug and alcohol services can include one-on-one counselling, group work, drug withdrawal programs, and rehabilitation programs. Counsellors at these services can provide advice to help you choose the type of support to suit your needs.

All drug and alcohol services for people 18 and over are confidential.

Can I get treatment for free?

Free drug and alcohol services are available. Some services are covered by Medicare, while other services will charge a fee. If you visit a private clinic you will require a referral for treatment from your GP, but most publicly-funded services accept self-referrals.

What if I just want to talk to someone?

To talk to someone about alcohol and other drugs call the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 1800 250 015. It is a free, 24-hour phone service available across New South Wales, offering information, support and advice for people seeking help to stop or reduce their drug use.

The ADIS service provides information, treatment referrals, crisis counselling, and support for illegal drugs like heroin, ice and cannabis, as well as legal drugs such as alcohol. ADIS can also give you contact information to help you access treatment services. Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) translational services can also be provided via ADIS.

For families and friends of those using drugs, contact Family Drug Support (FDS). FDS is an organisation that provides support and assistance to families throughout Australia who are dealing with a family member who is using drugs. Learn more about FDS here.

Is ADIS confidential?

Yes. Callers are not identified and calls are not recorded. ADIS will not ask your name or any identifying information, unless you would like to be contacted later for follow up. They may ask for information including your postcode, or age range for purposes like service planning, however you don't have to give this information if you don't want to.

Calls are not recorded and your number will not come up on the ADIS receiving phone when you ring.

However, like all health workers ADIS must report any calls regarding child abuse to community services. They have a duty of care to protect callers and others from harm, for example if someone is having suicidal thoughts or is likely to commit violence. ADIS is also obliged to report serious crimes that are reported to them.

To assess whether your drinking habits are putting you at risk take our alcohol risk assessment here.

Search Your Service Hub to find health and welfare services near you. Check it out here.

16/08/2018What to do if you need help with alcohol and other drugs
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8/08/2018 9:02 AMDIMAURO, Sophie

Guest contributor Dr Jan Fizzell, public health physician for NSW Health and advisor to the NSW Chief Health Officer on medicinal cannabis, talks to the Your Room team about cannabis medicines – the state of play in Australia, what the evidence (and your doctor) says, and where next for NSW.

Bud, dope, grass, marijuana, mary jane, hash, weed – whatever you call it, there is no doubt that we are entering a historic time for cannabis.

In the last two months alone, a number of landmark developments have changed the global landscape for both recreational and medicinal cannabis.

On 19 June 2018, Canada's parliament voted to become the first G7 nation to fully legalise cannabis (legalisation comes into effect on 17 October 2018). Days later, on 25 June, the US Food and Drug Administration approved, for the first time, a drug derived from the cannabis plant. As recently as last month, the UK's Home Office announced, on 27 July, that medicinal cannabis will be available in the UK on prescription later this year.

Given Canada's recent legalisation announcement, recreational use of cannabis has been hot in the press. However, cannabis for medical purposes continues to drive public and political interest. 91 per cent of Australians support legalisation of cannabis for medicinal purposes (in comparison, only 32 per cent believe recreational cannabis use should be legal).

A range of countries worldwide have legalised medicinal cannabis, either through a largely unregulated general access model, such as the market in California, or as a form of registered medicine market, such as has been established in Israel. But where does this leave Australia?

From Perth to Sydney: Medicinal cannabis in Australia 

In 2016, Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) decriminalised supply and use of medicinal cannabis. The following year, the TGA rescheduled certain medicinal cannabis products to schedule 8 of the Poisons Standard, making the prescription of cannabis medicines legal in Australia.

Governments at both Commonwealth and State and Territory levels have implemented legislative and policy change to allow the cultivation, manufacture, prescribing and dispensing of medicinal cannabis products for patients in Australia. This has been driven partly by community and advocacy groups and the media and informed by the development of medicinal cannabis programs in other countries.

Cannabis medicines are now available on prescription in all Australian states and territories. In NSW specifically, doctors have been able to seek approval to prescribe medicinal cannabis for patients since 1 August 2016. This was a result of changes under the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Amendment (Designated Non-ARTG Products) Regulation 2016 (under the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966). Previously, NSW patients could only legally access cannabis-based medicines through clinical trials. 

The use of cannabis outside of regulated medicinal purposes for specific products remains illegal in Australia. If you use, personally cultivate, sell or supply cannabis (leaf, resin or oil) to someone else and get caught, you could face significant fines and other penalties, including a prison sentence.

Back to basics: What is a cannabis medicine and who can get it?

A cannabis medicine is a lawfully prescribed and dispensed pharmaceutical-grade, cannabis-derived product used specifically for human therapeutic (medical) purposes. All cannabis medicines in Australia need to meet a quality standard to ensure they are free from contaminants and are manufactured to a consistent standard. In Australia, cannabis medicines are regulated in the established medicines framework that applies to all drugs and poisons.

Only doctors can apply to prescribe a cannabis medicine – not patients or carers. NSW doctors apply for approval to prescribe cannabis medicines through a single application process when they consider it the appropriate treatment for their patients.  The doctor prescribing should consult with other doctors involved in the care of the patient. For some health conditions, a specialist in that treatment area is expected to lead or support prescribing. This is because those health conditions are usually managed by such a specialist.

There is no pre-determined list of conditions for which a cannabis medicine can be prescribed in Australia. Each application from a prescribing doctor will be considered on its merits.

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Blazing a trail: The NSW Government's approach to cannabis medicines

The NSW Government has committed $21 million to develop a better understanding of the therapeutic potential of cannabis medicines.

This includes $9 million over four years in clinical trials to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of cannabis medicine in providing relief from the symptoms of serious conditions: children with severe treatment-resistant epilepsy, adults with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting unresponsive to standard treatments; and improving quality of life for adult palliative care patients. The NSW Clinical Trials program was established after advice from an expert advisory panel regarding the most important areas to understand the use of cannabis medicines.

The NSW Government has also invested up to $12 million over four years to establish and operate the NSW Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research and Innovation. The Centre will draw on local and international researchers to advance our formal understanding of medicinal cannabis, monitor the NSW-funded clinical trials, educate the community, and help people navigate regulatory processes.

The NSW Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research and Innovation has funded the $6 million Cannabis Medicines Access Program. The NSW Cannabis Medicines Advisory Service was opened in January 2018 to provide health practitioners anywhere in NSW with timely, high-quality clinical advice. It is Australia's first cannabis medicines 'hotline' and aims to simplify and speed up access for doctors whose patients may benefit from this type of treatment.

The NSW Government has also provided funding support for the Australian Centre for Cannabinoid Clinical Research and Excellence (ACRE). ACRE will develop prescribing protocols for the use of cannabis medicines and provide blood monitoring for patients and data collection tools for their health care professionals to collect more information on the safety and efficacy of these medicines.

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Is cannabis a medical miracle? The jury is still out

Cannabis is a complex plant and we are still learning about the hundreds of compounds that make up the plant; how they interact with each other and how they affect organs and systems in the human body.

Although medicinal cannabis has been introduced in a number of countries, it is still an emerging field. Little high-quality clinical research has been conducted into its therapeutic use and the strength and quality of scientific evidence from the research that has been conducted varies, as does the evidence of safety and effectiveness for many products currently available.

Doctors rely on high quality evidence from clinical trials to help make prescribing decisions. While positive stories of treatment from patients help us understand where to investigate further, we know that success sometimes comes from other treatments they are on at the same time, sometimes from a positive mental disposition towards the treatment working (a "placebo" effect), and sometimes only work in certain circumstances. Clinical trials help us.

We also often see work done in the laboratory or in mice promote cannabis as a miracle cure. However, sadly, "miracle" drugs in the laboratory don't always translate to successful treatments in humans. For example, in general, nine out of ten drugs for cancer that were promising in the laboratory or in animal models of disease don't work in clinical trials in humans.

Some new cannabis medicines will expose patients to much higher doses of cannabinoids (the chemical compounds of cannabis) than they would have been exposed to. Cannabinoids work all over the body. As such, we need a degree of caution in ensuring that they do not have unexpected adverse effects. For example, we know that some cannabinoids interact with the immune system. If we are trying to treat a cancer with a different medicine that needs the immune system to function, giving a cannabis medicine that might interfere with the immune system might do more harm than good.

Some uses of cannabis medicines have had significant amounts of research. The Commonwealth Department of Health through the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), and with the support of the NSW, Victorian and Queensland state governments, commissioned a team to review the available scientific evidence for the use of cannabis medicines in five areas: palliative care, nausea and vomiting, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and pain. The resulting guidance reveals that currently there is limited evidence about the effectiveness of medicinal cannabis for use in different medical conditions. There is also little known about the most suitable doses of individual cannabis products.

Currently, only one product has been fully assessed for safety, quality and efficacy and is registered on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). All other cannabis medicines are experimental and their effects on different people are still being studied.

Straight from the horse's mouth: What does your doctor think?  

On 2 March 2018, the NSW and Commonwealth governments introduced a streamlined application process for doctors to prescribe unregistered cannabis medicines. On 30 July 2018, this was supplemented by an online system which enables medical practitioners to submit Special Access Scheme (SAS) applications and notifications electronically. Previously, physical application forms had to be emailed or faxed to the TGA for review.

As of 17 July 2018, NSW Health has received three times as many applications (335) from doctors in the 4.5 months since streamlined arrangements were introduced on 2 March 2018, than the 113 applications received in the preceding 18-month period (from 1 August 2016 when changes to NSW legislation came into effect, up until 1 March 2018).

The NSW Government is working to support appropriately qualified medical practitioners to access legal, safe and effective pharmaceutical-grade cannabis products where they consider this to be an appropriate treatment option for their patients. However, a doctor's first duty of care is to ensure their patient's safety. To feel confident prescribing any new medicine, a doctor requires evidence – high quality clinical research, where carefully designed studies are conducted in humans – showing that the medicine is safe and effective.

Despite widespread anecdotal claims that cannabis is a natural, benign product, a cannabis medicine, like any experimental medicine, offers potential risks in the way it interacts with other medicines as well as uncertainty in what side effects it may cause. For a doctor, anecdotes do not equal evidence. It is ultimately the decision of the patient's doctor as to whether they prescribe, or not.

NSW doctors can access the NSW Cannabis Medicines Advisory Service to access up-to-date information about the use of cannabis medicines; formulations, dosing regimens and potential interactions with other drugs.

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Cannabis medicines: Where to next

Australia is proceeding towards a registered medicine model for cannabis. Legislation passed last year allowing cannabis to be prescribed as a Schedule 8 drug (a category that includes a varied range of addictive drugs such as morphine and codeine) reflects this.

However, although humans have been using cannabis products for thousands of years, we are still at the very beginning of the journey towards cannabis as medicine. High-quality clinical research, such as the three NSW Government-funded cannabis medicine trials, is vital to understand how cannabis products can contribute to patient outcomes.

Where it concerns cultivation, the Federal Parliament of Australia passed landmark legislation – the Narcotic Drugs Amendment Bill 2016 – on 29 February 2016 to allow the controlled cultivation of cannabis in Australia for medicinal and related scientific purposes. As of 11 July 2018, 18 Medicinal Cannabis Licences (cultivation and production), 10 Cannabis Research Licences (cultivation and production), and 13 Manufacture Licences have been granted.

The NSW Government has also funded $1 million for agronomic research undertaken by the NSW Department of Primary Industries to support the development of high quality cannabis products in NSW.

The data collected through the NSW Cannabis Medicines Advisory Service and clinical trials program will accelerate knowledge and understanding about the role of cannabis medicines and inform future practice. These investments in building the evidence base can help support applications for registration of cannabis medicines on the ARTG and listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) – the standard pathways for accessible and affordable quality medicines for Australian patients.

Cannabis as a medicine remains a topical, complex and emotionally-charged issue. It is also operating in a quickly changing public and political sphere. The NSW Government is committed to patients having access to cannabinoid products where they improve patient outcomes and this will remain a core focus in the months and years ahead.

Want to learn more about cannabis? Check out our cannabis drug page to get the facts.

Where can I find more information?

Visit the website of the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research and Innovation: www.medicinalcannabis.nsw.gov.au

Patients, their families and carers can also seek further information through:

  • Calling the cannabis medicines helpline: 1800 217 257
  • Emailing: cannabistrial@doh.health.nsw.gov.au
  • Writing to the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research and Innovation, NSW Ministry of Health, Locked Mail Bag 961, North Sydney, NSW 2059

7/08/2018Coming out of the green closet: All you wanted to know about cannabis medicines
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26/07/2018 10:17 AMDIMAURO, Sophie

Hepatitis C (hep C) is a disease that is caused by the hepatitis C virus. The virus lives in the liver and can cause severe scarring and damage to the liver which can have long-lasting health effects.

Hep C is spread when the blood of an infected person enters the blood of an uninfected person. According to Hepatitis NSW, roughly 230,000 Australians have contracted hep C via the sharing of drug injecting equipment, contaminated medical procedures (prior to 1990) or medical procedures overseas.

How do I know if I have hep C if there can be no symptoms?

Many people have no symptoms when they are first infected with hep C, so you might not know if you have been infected. For those who do feel ill they may get nausea, tiredness, or loss of appetite. Hep C can be diagnosed with simple blood tests and should be considered if you:

  • Have injected drugs
  • Been in prison
  • Have had a blood transfusion, blood product or organ transplant in Australia before February 1990
  • Have a tattoo or body piercing
  • Have emigrated from a country where hep C is widespread
  • Are male and have sex with men
  • Are born to a mother who was hep C positive during her pregnancy
  • Have a needle-stick injury
  • Have abnormal liver function tests or are experiencing hep C symptoms

Can Hep C be cured?

Hep C can be easily cured with new treatments called direct acting antivirals (DAAs). For every 20 people treated, 19 will be cured. Once cured from hep C, you should no longer have hep C symptoms and treatment may reverse the damage to your liver. However, if hep C has already caused damage to the liver, clearing your hep C might not mean that you feel healthy straight away. You might need to see a doctor or specialist for ongoing monitoring and you will still have a risk of liver complications, even after clearing your hep C.

When it comes to treatment, there are a range of different medications. Your doctor will recommend the best option for you depending on your treatment assessment and there is no need for a liver biopsy.

Should I start treatment?

hep c.jpgThere has never been a better time to get your hep C treated. The treatment usually lasts for 12 weeks, has very few side effects and is taken in tablet form, so there are no injections and you don't need to get a liver biopsy before starting treatment.

Treatments for hep C can now be prescribed by GPs and doctors at hospital liver clinics. Inside prison, treatment can be prescribed by clinic nurses or doctors.

Can I start treatment if I'm using drugs?

Yes, even if you are currently injecting drugs, you can get start hep C treatment. If you have a history of drug and alcohol use and are unsure of whether now is the right time to begin treatment, call the Hepatitis Infoline on 1800 803 990 for advice.

The Let's Talk counselling service also offers free support to people in NSW affected by hep B or C related liver disease, their family and carers. Counselling can be delivered face-to-face, via Skype or over the phone. For more support and treatment information, check out our Getting Help section here.

What if treatment doesn't work?

The new hep C treatments have a 95 per cent rate of curing the disease. There are a very small number of cases where treatment does not work and you may be referred to a liver specialist who will talk to you about the best treatment for you.

It's important to remember:

  • There is no limit on how many times you can access treatment
  • There is no evidence to suggest that, if treatment didn't work the first time, it's never going to work
  • Liver specialists will do everything they can to ensure you are cured of hep C

What is Hepatitis NSW?

Hepatitis NSW is a not-for-profit health promotion charity funded by the NSW Ministry of Health which connects patients with doctors who can prescribe hepatitis C treatment.

Hepatitis NSW have worked proactively with GPs and pharmacists to build an online NSW-wide directory of services for people with hep C to access treatment locally and visit a GP close to them for testing and ongoing hep C management.

For more information about Hepatitis NSW visit www.hep.org.au or to speak to someone who has experienced hep C treatment call 1800 803 990 today.

25/07/2018Hepatitis C can be cured!
What-to-do-if-you’re-concerned-about-someone’s-drug-use.aspx
  
15/08/2018 11:19 AMDIMAURO, Sophie

​Drug use is something that we all see on a daily basis. Whether it be the groups of smokers huddled down the side street that we walk past on the way to work, the long queue of people waiting to get their morning fix of caffeine at the local coffee shop, or the endless bars and pubs on a Friday night packed with people sipping on a glass of wine or schooner of beer to celebrate the end of the work week.

Drug use doesn't have to be illegal to be a problem. Each year, legal drug use causes more harm to society than illegal drugs, with alcohol and tobacco being two of the leading contributors to the burden of illness and deaths in Australia, according to a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

But drug use that we don't see as often, including illicit drug use, can also cause harm to society and the individual. In 2011, Opioids accounted for the largest proportion (41%) of the illicit drug use burden.

The reality is that many of us know someone who uses drugs, but knowing what to do when you're concerned about their drug use can be difficult. The alcohol and drug information service (ADIS) advises:

1. Be aware that everyone has different drug preferences – not everyone wants to use the same drug.

2. Avoid judging people based on their drug preference.

3. Accept that people don't always want to talk about their personal drug use when you do.

4. Be aware that everyone's relationship with drugs is different and can change over time i.e. a person's relationship with a drug can start off pretty casual then become very intense and then become intermittent again.

5. Understand not all drug use evolves into problematic use or dependence.

6. Invite the person you are concerned about to reflect on their relationship with drugs and consider asking:

  • Whether they are happy with the relationship?
  • Whether they see it as a life-long relationship?
  • Whether there is anything about their relationship they want to change?

7. Be aware there is no handbook you can follow to persuade someone to stop taking drugs which means there are limits to helping in some situations. Avoid the temptation to lecture someone who won't stop taking drugs.

8. If a person refuses to talk to you about their relationship with drugs they can phone a free, anonymous and confidential helpline like ADIS on 1800 250 015

What is ADIS?

ADIS is a free, 24-hour phone service available across New South Wales, offering information, support and advice for people seeking help to stop or reduce their drug use, as well as for their family and friends.

The ADIS service provides information, treatment referrals, crisis counselling, and support for illegal drugs like heroin, ice and cannabis, as well as legal drugs such as alcohol. ADIS can also give you contact information to help you access treatment services.

Help for families and friends

The influence of alcohol or other drug problems affects the person using the substance, but it can also impact on their family, friends and colleagues. Often, other people can see the problem that substance use is causing before the person using does.

The person may not want to change or might not see a need to change. It may be the case that they are experiencing mental illness, such as depression, which makes it more difficult for them to realise their drug use is a problem or have the motivation to change.

Family Drug Support (FDS) is an organisation that provides support and assistance to families throughout Australia who are dealing with a family member who is using drugs. Learn more about FDS here.

Want to learn more about some of the most commonly used drugs affecting Australians right now? Check out the Your Room A-Z Drug listing here.

24/07/2018What to do if you’re concerned about someone’s drug use
Get-healthy-during-pregnancy-and-breastfeeding-.aspx
  
25/07/2018 3:52 PMDIMAURO, Sophie

Pregnancy, childbirth and caring for a newborn baby can be a challenge, especially when the list of "do's" and "don'ts" is endless. Mothers to be are told that some weight gain is healthy, but within the healthy weight guidelines, to eat a balanced diet but not X, Y and Z, to exercise regularly but not vigorously.

But how many women know the real impact of one or two glasses of wine during their pregnancy? And how many mothers know that drinking alcohol while breastfeeding might be just as harmful as drinking when pregnant? The answer, regrettably, is not many.

Low adherence to guidelines

A recent study by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) found that although 70 per cent of Australians are aware there are guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol, only one in four know of the actual content. 

It is likely that this is a contributing factor to the high prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy in Australia, which according to findings from a BMJ Open study, ranges from 40 per cent to 80 per cent. The BMJ study highlighted low adherence to alcohol guidelines that advise complete abstinence from alcohol during pregnancy.

However the reasons for drinking while pregnant might vary from a culture of tolerance towards alcohol consumption during pregnancy, drinking because their partner continues to drink throughout this period, stressful living conditions, a lack of knowledge, mental illness and addiction. 

The facts

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy increases the risk of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) miscarriage, stillbirth, and perinatal death.

When a pregnant woman drinks, alcohol moves through her body ('circulates') in the bloodstream, and also enters the baby's bloodstream via the placenta in the same concentration. Alcohol can affect the development of the baby's brain. There is no safe time to drink alcohol during pregnancy and no safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy.

After birth, the babies of alcohol dependent mothers can suffer withdrawal symptoms, including tremors, irritability and fits.

What is FASD?

FASD is a term to describe a group of conditions caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy. It is suggested that FASD is the most prevalent, preventable disability in the world.

Not much accurate data on the prevalence of FASD in Australia is available but it is estimated that FASD affects roughly between two per cent and five per cent of the population in the United States. The prevalence may be as high as 12 per cent in some high-risk Indigenous communities, according to the Australian Medical Association (Aug 24, 2016).

A baby born with FASD can have life-long problems with learning, growth, behaviour, memory, language, communication and everyday living. They may also have birth defects and facial abnormalities. However, most children with FASD show no visible signs but could have brain damage that causes:

  • Physical and emotional developmental delay
  • Impaired speech and language development
  • Learning problems, e.g. poor memory
  • Difficulty controlling behaviour

There is no cure for FASD and its effects last a lifetime.

Alcohol and breastfeeding

Alcohol in the mother's bloodstream passes into breast milk. It can reduce the milk supply, and can cause irritability, poor feeding, sleep disturbance, and poor psychomotor development in the baby.

A number of factors affect how much alcohol gets into your breast milk, including: the strength and amount of alcohol in your drink; what and how much you've eaten; how much you weigh; how quickly you are drinking.

It is advised that mothers avoid alcohol in the first month after delivery until breastfeeding is going well and there is some sort of pattern to their baby's feeding. It is generally risky to take any drug while breastfeeding without medical advice.

Find out more information about alcohol and breastfeeding and how you can drink alcohol safely when breastfeeding by planning ahead here.

The guidelines

According to the 2016 Alcohol Policy by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, drinking during pregnancy can result in congenital abnormalities and disability.

The 2009 National Health and Medical Research Council alcohol guidelines state that for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning a pregnancy, not drinking is the safest option.

The Get Healthy Service

If you're struggling to cut down your alcohol consumption, help is available – and it's free! Get Healthy is a telephone-based coaching service that provides NSW residents over 18 with a free personal health coach to guide and support them on their journey to live a healthy life - helping them to drink less alcohol, get active and eat well.

The service has a Healthy in Pregnancy module which helps pregnant women be active and healthy during pregnancy. Speak to a Get Healthy in Pregnancy Service coach today to see how they can help you to stop drinking during your pregnancy. Call 1300 806 258 today or sign up online.

For health information and content about pregnancy, having a young baby and how alcohol during pregnancy can affect a baby's development check out the Stay Strong and Healthy Facebook page here.

Want to know whether your drinking habits are putting you at risk? Find out with the Your Room Risk Assessment.

23/07/2018Get healthy during pregnancy and breastfeeding
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20/07/2018 11:12 AMDIMAURO, Sophie

NSW Health’s Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant has announced that round four of the Translational Research Grants Scheme (TRGS) has launched with $8 million of funding up for grabs.

The funding will support research projects that will translate into practice change, directly impacting on patient and population health outcomes.

For the fourth year the Office for Health and Medical Research (OHMR) will administer the grants scheme. The call for expressions of interest has officially opened to staff within NSW Local Health Districts, Specialty Health Networks, the Ambulance Service of NSW, and NSW Health Pathology.

Applicants are encouraged to partner with other organisations such as universities and medical research institutes and to support researchers to identify relevant partners who will be actively involved in the delivery of projects and implementation of outcomes.

This year, the total number of expressions of interest that can be submitted to the scheme is capped at five per host organisation. Host organisations are encouraged to work with their researchers to identify and support projects that address local and/or state priorities; are system relevant; and align with the purpose, objectives and intents of the Scheme.

All expressions of interest and full applications must be submitted through the TRGS coordinator for your host organisation to ensure that applications have gone through the internal review process.

A number of information videos for prospective applicants will be available on the Office for Health and Medical Research (OHMR) website throughout July. The videos are designed to help applicants develop competitive submissions. The links to the short video sessions will be available on the TRGS website.

The TRGS website also has a number of resources that are available to support Host Organisations and applicants including:

  • The Guidelines to Applicants provide detailed information regarding the dates, process and selection criteria for the scheme.

  • The Translational Research Framework will assist Host Organisations and applicants to identify the relevant research questions and appropriate research designs for their applications.

Find out more information about the TRGS here.

19/07/2018The NSW Health Chief Health Officer announces $8m research funding
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19/07/2018 11:38 AMDIMAURO, Sophie

NSW Health has recently added a list of withdrawal management and residential rehabilitation services to their website, which can be found here.

This list includes all the services that are NSW Health funded, however there may be additional services that are relevant to the NSW community that are not included in this list. You can contact ADIS or search for services that are not NSW Health funded using the Your Service Hub directory.

What is withdrawal management?

Withdrawal management is the short-term medical and psychological care of a person experiencing withdrawal symptoms as a result of stopping or reducing use of their drug of dependence. Withdrawal management may also be known as detoxification or detox, and is provided in outpatient, inpatient and residential settings.

A full assessment of a person's health and service needs is undertaken to determine how best to provide withdrawal management if needed.

What is residential rehabilitation?

Residential rehabilitation is the psychological care and support for people in a residential community setting that is free from alcohol and other drug (AOD) consumption.

Residential rehabilitation programs may be medium to long-term in duration (4 weeks to 12 months) and provide a range of support services such as individual and group counselling, physical health and well-being, and education and skills training. Some residential rehabilitation services provide programs for populations with specific needs, such as young people and women with children.

A full assessment of a person's health and service needs is undertaken to determine how best to provide residential rehabilitation and if the service contacted is the best fit. Many residential rehabilitation services require people to have completed AOD withdrawal before admission to residential rehabilitation treatment.

A number of Aboriginal community controlled organisations provide residential rehabilitation and other healing services for Aboriginal people. Services like this that are funded by NSW Health are included in the list but there are also additional services that can be found here

Talk to someone

Whether you are having issues with alcohol or other drugs, are concerned about someone else's alcohol or other drug use, or just have general questions about AOD, you can call ADIS any time of the day or week for support, information, counselling and referral to services in NSW on 1800 250 015.

To learn about the different types of support services and treatment, visit our Getting Help section today.

18/07/2018Withdrawal management & residential rehabilitation in NSW
Because-of-Her,-We-Can!-10-strong-Aboriginal-and-Torres-Strait-Islander-women-who-have-led-the-way.aspx
  
13/07/2018 5:01 PMDIMAURO, Sophie

​Every July NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia to remember the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

This year's theme, 'Because of Her, We Can', celebrates the essential role that women have played - and continue to play - as active and significant role models at the community, local, state and national levels.

But it doesn't have to be NAIDOC Week to celebrate all the amazing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Here we take a look at 10 of the many, many strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who have been trailblazers for Aboriginal people and all Australians:

1. Pearl Gibbs

Pearl Gibbs.PNGPearl Gibbs was one of the most prominent Indigenous female activists within the Aboriginal movement in the early 20th century. As a member of the Aborigines Progressive Association, she was involved with various protest events such as the 1938 Day of Mourning.

She played a vital role in ensuring that women were represented in the struggle for equality and injustices.

2. Cathy Freeman

Cathy Freeman.PNGCathy Freeman is a trail blazer. A proud Kuku Yalanji woman, Cathy became the first Australian Aboriginal woman to win a gold medal at an international athletics event in 1990 and, two years later, became the first Australian Aboriginal to compete at the Olympics.

Today, Cathy concentrates on charitable work through the Cathy Freeman Foundation, which focuses on educational programs to help indigenous children fulfil their potential in school.

3. Emily Kngwarreye

Emily Kngwarreye.PNGImage courtesy of Tara Ebes

Emily Kame Kngwarreye was one of Australia's most significant contemporary artists. Her remarkable work was inspired by her cultural life as an Anmatyerre elder, and her lifelong custodianship of the women's Dreaming sites in her clan Country, Alhalkere.

She began painting quite late in her life and had first been introduced to silk batik with a group of women from Utopia in 1977. In 1987 Emily began working with acrylics on canvas. A design inspired by her artwork 'Yam Dreaming', featured on Qantas planes in 1994. Emily knew virtually nothing of the art world and drew her energy, creativity and inspiration from country in the centre of Australia.

4. Oogeroo Noonacal

Oogeroo Noonacal.PNGOodgeroo Noonuccal (formerly Kath Walker) was an Australian poet, political activist, artist and educator. She was also a campaigner for Aboriginal rights. Oodgeroo was best known for her poetry, and was the first Aboriginal Australian to publish a book of verse.

She was Queensland state secretary of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders (FCAATSI), and was involved in a number of other political organisations. She was a key figure in the campaign for the reform of the Australian constitution to allow Aboriginal people full citizenship, lobbying Prime Minister Robert Menzies in 1965, and his successor Harold Holt in 1966.

5. Deborah Cheetham

Deborah Cheetham.jpgDeborah Cheetham is an Aboriginal Australian soprano, actor, composer and playwright. She is a member of the Stolen Generations, taken from her mother when she was three weeks old and was raised by a white baptist family. Jimmy Little was her uncle.

In 1997 Cheetham wrote the autobiographical play 'White Baptist Abba Fan' which tells of her experiences of coming to terms with her homosexuality and racial identity while trying to reunite with her Aboriginal family.

6. Pat O'Shane

pat oshane.jpgPat O'Shane is an indigenous Australian of the Kunjandji clan of the Kuku Yalanji people. She was a teacher, barrister, public servant, jurist, Aboriginal activist, and was Australia's first Aboriginal magistrate, serving the Local Court in Sydney between 1986 until her retirement in 2013.

Pat O'Shane was the first female Aboriginal teacher in Queensland; the first Aboriginal to earn a law degree; the first Aboriginal barrister; and the first woman and indigenous person to be the head of a government department in Australia, the NSW Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs.

"The women are the movers and shakers in the community...they initiate things...they keep things going." - Pat O'Shane

7. Linda Burney

Linda Burney.PNGLinda Burney has paved the way for women to take leading roles in their communities. On 26 January 1988, Ms Burney marched along side of her fellow community members at La Perouse in protest over the Australian Day celebrations.

Linda Burney is the first Aboriginal person to enter the NSW Parliament and was the Australian Labour Party National President through 2008-2009. Today, she plays an influential role in policy decisions that impact on Aboriginal people. Even though she has a very busy schedule in politics, Linda can still find the time and energy to march for rights and equality for various sectors of society.

8. Rachel Perkins

Rachel Perkins.PNGRachel Perkins has dedicated her life to ensuring that the truth of Indigenous Australia is told from an Indigenous prospective just as her father Charlie Perkins had done.

She is known for her thought-provoking works such as Radiance (1998), First Contact, First Australians, Mabo and Redfern Now. The impact Rachel's films have on the Australian culture is massive and her influence on the industry has brought about cultural diversity and led the way for other Indigenous filmmakers to follow. 

9. Barangaroo

Barangaroo.PNGBarangaroo was a powerful Cammeraygal woman. She was a leading fisher woman given much respect and reverence in her community, which pre-1788, was a matriarchal society, according to Jessica Birk, Aboriginal educator for the Barangaroo Delivery Authority.

Barangaroo was often invited to sit down and eat and drink with the Europeans, as she and her husband, Bennelong, were respected Aboriginal leaders. Barangaroo would occasionally meet with Europeans, but would never eat or drink their offerings and refused to wear clothes other than a bone through her nose. According to The Dictionary of Sydney British officers found her "striking and a little frightening, with presence and authority".

10. Nakkiah Lui

Nakkiah Lui.PNGSource: @nakkiahlui via Twitter

Nakkiah Lui is an Australian writer and actor and is a young leader in the Australian Aboriginal community. She is a co-writer and star of Black Comedy (a sketch comedy television program on the ABC), a columnist for Australian Women's Weekly and has also hosted Radio National's Awaye and NAIDOC Evenings for ABC Local Radio.

In 2012, Lui was the first recipient of the Dreaming Award by The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Arts Board of the Australia Council and was the inaugural recipient of the Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright award.

Learn more about NAIDOC Week here.

13/07/2018Because of Her, We Can! 10 strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who have led the way
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5/07/2018 10:28 AMDIMAURO, Sophie

​Dry July is here already and thousands of people across Australia have ditched the booze to raise funds for those affected by cancer. While giving up alcohol for one month may sound easy in theory it can actually be quite the challenge, especially with the social drinking culture so heavily engrained into our society.

But it's good to challenge ourselves once in a while; especially when there are health benefits!

It isn't too late to join the club and get involved in Dry July – whether you're giving up alcohol all together or cutting down and not drinking as much as you usually would.

If you're still not convinced, here are a few reasons why you should give up the booze this month:

Long-term benefits

There are many long-term health benefits from abstaining from alcohol or cutting down long-term.

Forty three per cent of alcohol-related cancers in Australia could be prevented by reducing alcohol intake from four or more drinks per day, to two or less drinks per day. Drinking less frequently, e.g. drinking weekly rather than daily, and drinking less on each occasion, reduces the lifetime risk of alcohol-related harm.

Unfortunately, if come August you resume regular and high levels of alcohol consumption that increase your cancer risk, having a month off from this won't make much difference. To learn more about levels of alcohol consumption, view the National Health and Medical research Council's (NHMRC) Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol here.

Understand the risks

Every year, alcohol causes more harm to society than illegal drugs and is one of the leading contributors to the burden of illness and deaths in Australia. But because alcohol is so widely and regularly consumed in Australia, there is little public awareness of how harmful alcohol can be. df.jpg

Dry July provides us time to step back, reflect and really understand the risks directly related to alcohol consumption. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), drinking alcohol is associated with a risk of developing health problems such as mental and behavioural disorders, liver cirrhosis, some cancers, and cardiovascular diseases.

Learn more about the link between alcohol and cancer here.

A good night's sleep

In the short-term, taking a month off drinking can improve your sleeping pattern, claims Professor Steve Allsop of the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University. He said: "The reason for that is whilst alcohol sends you to sleep fairly quickly, you tend not to get very good quality sleep when you're drinking … so you wake up not feeling as rested as you should."

This is because after a few hours the sedative effects of alcohol have worn off, meaning that you're more likely to wake up prematurely. Alcohol can also make existing sleep problems, like sleep apnoea and snoring, worse.

Improved wellbeing

With a good night's sleep under your belt and no hangover you will have more energy and feel better overall. With more money in your pocket and all that energy why not do something active and fun?

As a depressant, alcohol often amplifies mental health issues putting people in a negative frame of mind that they normally wouldn't be in.

You are helping people affected by cancer

Every year, Dry July participants contribute to funding projects and programs that improve the comfort and wellbeing of people affected by cancer.

With an aim to make a difficult time a little easier for those affected by cancer, whether this be through wellness programs, comfort items, transport services, accommodation projects, refurbishments, information resources, hospital furnishings or entertainment items.

Save money

According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Australian's spend $14.1 billion on alcohol each and every year. It is estimated that a single person under the age of 35 spends on average $22 per week on alcohol, and when it comes to families this increases to $47 per week.

How much do you spend on alcohol each week? Swapping your average beer, wine, cocktail or cider for an alcohol-free option means you'll have more money in your pocket at the end of the month and just imagine how much you could save in a year…

Give your liver a rest! Sign up to Dry July here.

Want to know whether your drinking habits are putting you at risk? Find out with the Your Room Risk Assessment.

Note: For some people, suddenly stopping drinking can make them feel physically and emotional unwell. If you feel you cannot stop or experience sweatiness, nausea or shaking within days of not drinking – you may be experiencing withdrawal symptoms and should see your doctor.

5/07/2018Why you should give up the booze this Dry July
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3/07/2018 9:01 AMDIMAURO, Sophie

Have you heard about the Stay Strong and Healthy Facebook page? It’s a hub of health information and content about pregnancy, having a young baby and how alcohol during pregnancy can affect a baby’s development.

The Facebook page raises awareness among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women of the risks of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), and the health services available to support them.

The page provides practical information and advice for the whole family on staying strong and healthy – including being physically active and eating well – and features stories and pictures of mums and their beautiful bubs. 

With the theme of NAIDOC week this year being – ‘Because of Her, We can!’ it is a good time to acknowledge all the strong Aboriginal women in our community.

Check out the Facebook page today: www.facebook.com/StayStrongAndHealthy

Learn more about pregnancy and breastfeeding here.

3/07/2018Stay Strong Facebook page: Health information for mum and bub
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29/06/2018 2:51 PMDIMAURO, Sophie

Our inaugural guest contributor Professor Suzanne Fraser, lead investigator at the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University, talks to the Your Room team about livesofsubstance.org and tackling stigma with personal stories.

'Chains of addiction', 'addiction epidemic', 'reformed addict': coverage of drug issues in the media has long relied on negative clichés. Researchers based at the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI), Curtin University, Australia, have developed an alternative to the media coverage – a website presenting experiences of addiction, dependence or drug habit in people's own words.

Funded by an Australian Research Council grant, and based on a method originally developed at Oxford University and administered by DIPEx International, the site was based on a carefully conducted research project that explored experiences of addiction, treatment and recovery. 

Why do we need this resource?

Research confirms something people who use drugs know only too well: they face intense stigmatisation and marginalisation. Driven by sensationalising media accounts and limited understanding among politicians and other commentators, public debate about addiction tends to oversimplify lives and experiences.

Based on past research, we knew that if we conducted a qualitative research with care and with a critical eye on the assumptions usually made about people who consume drugs, we would find much more – and we did.

Contrary to familiar generalisations, people who use drugs (including heroin, methamphetamine, alcohol and cannabis) live rich lives with multiple interests and concerns, and can count all kinds of achievements such as education, family relationships and work among their experiences. Information like this puts drug use issues in perspective and challenges common assumptions about people's lives and worth.

What does Livesofsubstance.org include?

Go to the website and you will find a range of resources: detailed biographies of each participant, interview snippets organised by themes such as 'Looking after health and well-being', and 'Dealing with stigma and discrimination'. These snippets are presented in three formats: original audio clips, text extracts taken from the interview transcripts, and re-enacted video clips.

The aim is to bring to life the words of our participants, and make sure that what people say is placed in the context of their whole lives. While the website was developed in Australia, its themes and stories are relevant around the world.

 

Over the next year, further modules will be added to the site. One will focus on experiences of administering and receiving take-home naloxone, and the other will focus on experiences of heavy alcohol consumption.

How was it created?

First we composed an advisory panel of experts including peer advocates, health professionals and policy makers. The panel helped us refine our interview questions, recruit our participants, analyse the data and design the site. Importantly, we found it easy to recruit people for interviews and had many more offers than we could take up: the chance to be heard was clearly important for many. Overall we interviewed 60 people, making sure we covered a range of drugs, ethnicity, sexuality and gender.

Our interviews were semi-structured and in-depth. Speaking with our participants at length allowed us to build complex pictures of whole lives, and we used the accounts we collected to produce the biographies. We then offered these back to our participants to check for accuracy. We used good audio equipment to capture high quality recordings of the interviews so that we could include some original voice clips, and we hired actors for our video re-enactments. An experienced video maker help us set up our video 'studio' and edit the clips.

When we interviewed people we made sure to explain the project in detail, and we offered them different consent options that covered different uses of their interviews. Some participants were happy for us to use interview extracts in all three ways (original audio, text and re-enacted video), others consented to one or two forms only: text plus re-enactment, original audio and so on.

 

After the interviews were completed we set to work analysing them, putting together the key themes people discussed, and writing them up to help place our extracts in context. It was a long process that involved making sure everything we wrote was accurate, easy to read, and avoided clichés.

Well-known Australian memoirist Kate Holden agreed to introduce the site. Her wise book detailing her history of drug use and sex work, In My Skin, was a best seller.

How has the website been received?

One of the most wonderful aspects of the project has been the positive feedback it has received from participants and others. Some of our participants wrote to thank us, some attended the launch. Our evaluation survey produced extremely positive results, and we detailed these in a peer reviewed article, as well as in the Livesofsubstance.org report we produced on the project.

We were excited to see the website discussed widely on Twitter, and linked to by many organisations. These links helped the site grow in visibility on Google. The site was also covered in a range of professional newsletters and appears on university and professional training syllabuses. One of the most satisfying endorsements came from Jenny Kelsall, former Executive Officer of Harm Reduction Victoria:

"The social history of people who use drugs remains poorly understood and our stories and experiences of drug use remain largely untold […] And what is known about people who use drugs is heavily weighted towards the most disadvantaged and perpetuates a negative and simplistic stereotype that all people who use drugs are mad, bad and dangerous to know.

"I'm enormously hopeful that this website will [help…] to end this silence and misrepresentation. Lives of Substance not only humanises people who use drugs, it allows them to tell their stories in all their complexity."

We took great pride in knowing that, at least in the eyes of some, our aims have been fulfilled.

On a personal note

At times it's all too easy to become frustrated by the level of public debate on drugs. This project took our frustration and turned it into determination to offer a different, more humane and respectful, view. It's been one of the most rewarding projects I've ever taken part in.

Professor Suzanne Fraser

Lead investigator

Signature.png

If you would like any of the many refereed journal articles we also wrote based on the interview material we collected, please contact me at suzanne.fraser@curtin.edu.au. I am also happy to supply postcards and posters if you would like to draw attention to the site in your service and networks.

LOS 2.PNG

Our project team

  • Professor Suzanne Fraser (NDRI, Curtin University)
  • Associate Professor Renata Kokanovic (formerly School of Social Sciences, Monash University)
  • Professor David Moore (NDRI, Curtin University)
  • Professor Carla Treloar (Centre for Social Research in Health, University of New South Wales)
  • Dr Adrian Dunlop (Hunter New England Local Health District)
  • Dr Kiran Pienaar (formerly NDRI, Curtin University)
  • Dr Ella Dilkes-Frayne (formerly School of Social Sciences, Monash University)

Our advisory panel

  • Ms Nicky Bath (Formerly Chief Executive Officer, NSW Users and AIDS Association)
  • Ms Colleen Blums (President, Drug and Alcohol Nurses Australasia)
  • Mr Danny Jeffcote (Program Manager AOD Response West, cohealth)
  • Ms Debbie Kaplan (Manager, Clinical Policy, Alcohol and Other Drugs, Centre for Population Health, NSW Ministry of Health)
  • Ms Anna Keato (Senior Policy Officer, Prevention Policy and Research, Victorian Department of Health and Human Services)
  • Ms Jenny Kelsall (Executive Officer, Harm Reduction Victoria)
  • Ms Edita Kennedy (Project Worker, Association of Participating Service Users)
  • Dr Lynne Magor-Blatch (Executive Officer, Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association and Associate Professor, School of Psychology, University of Wollongong)
  • Mr Brad Pearce (Formerly Program Manager, Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association)
  • Ms Julie Rae (Head of Information and Research, Alcohol and Drug Foundation)
  • Professor Ann Roche (Director, National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction, Flinders University)
  • Mr Robert Stirling (Deputy CEO, Network of Alcohol and Other Drugs Agencies)

Do you know the facts about drugs and alcohol? Test your knowledge by visiting The Quiz Room here: https://bit.ly/2CRiNVE

29/06/2018Lives of Substance: Tackling stigma with personal stories
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28/06/2018 11:48 AMDIMAURO, Sophie

Are you ready for the 2018 NAIDOC Week celebrations? Running from the 8-15th of July, this year’s theme ‘Because of Her, We Can’ commemorates the significant role Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have played – and continue to play – at community, local, state and national levels.

Each July, NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia to remember the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life. The week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Celebrations will focus on the leaders, trailblazers, politicians, activists and social change advocates, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who fought and continue to fight, for justice, equal rights, rights to country, for law and justice, access to education, employment and to maintain and celebrate culture, language, music and art.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have marched, protested and spoken at demonstrations and national gatherings for the proper recognition of rights, while calling for national reform and justice.

These women were heavily involved in the campaign for the 1967 Referendum and also put up their hands to represent their people at the establishment of national advocacy and representative bodies from the National Aboriginal Congress (NAC) to ATSIC to Land Councils and onto the National Congress for Australia’s First Peoples.

They often did so while caring for families, maintaining homes and breaking down cultural and institutionalised barriers and gender stereotypes. These women did so because they demanded a better life, greater opportunities and - in many cases equal rights - for their children, families and people.

The achievements, voice and unwavering passion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women has provided strength and empowered past generations, while paving the way for generations to come.

During NAIDOC Week take the time to think about these women and celebrate them and their amazing stories and achievements.

Because of her, we can!

Wherever you live, you can take part in NAIDOC Week celebrations. Find out about NAIDOC Week activities in your area here.

28/06/2018Because of Her, We Can! NAIDOC Week 2018 commences
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26/06/2018 12:18 PMDIMAURO, Sophie

​The language we use and the way we view those who have or are experiencing alcohol and other drug (AOD) dependency can be powerful. Let's talk about drug use, not drug abuse;  the person with a drug dependence, not "addict", "junkie", "druggie" or "alcoholic"; the person who has stopped using drugs, not "clean", "sober" or "drug-free".

Today, on June 26th the UN observes International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 2018 to raise awareness of drug use and its distribution across the globe. Support. Don't Punish campaign counteracts this date to call for better worldwide drug policies that prioritise public health and human rights.

While both campaigns question drug laws and policy, it is crucial that we are also aware of and acknowledge the wider issue of discrimination and stigma surrounding those who have used or are using substances.

What is stigma and discrimination?

Stigma is a set of negative beliefs that a group or society holds about a topic or group of people. Discrimination is the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people – in this context, prejudicial treatment of people because they have used or are experiencing a dependency on drugs.

The World Health Organization (WHO) believes that stigma is a major cause of discrimination and exclusion and contributes to the abuse of human rights. According to a report about conceptualising stigma, this results in prejudice, avoidance, rejection, and discrimination against people who have a socially undesirable trait or engage in culturally marginalised behaviours, such as drug use (Link, 2001).

Why is this so important?

Stigma and discrimination stops people who use drugs and are looking for help from accessing support and treatment services because it impacts on their self-esteem, mental health and general wellbeing. According to Lives of Substance - a website that is built on the personal commentary of those who are or have used drugs – a key concern for many of the people interviewed for the website is coping with the stigma associated with drug use and dependency.

Stigma can also influence whether or not people tell others about their drug use due to a fear of being discriminated against. Lives of Substance also highlights concerns about experiencing stigma and discrimination within the healthcare system, which can lead to a delay in seeking medical or professional help when it is required.

Larry Pierce, chief executive of the network of alcohol and other drug agencies (NADA), says: "We know that fear of stigma and being labelled as a 'drug addict' can and does stop people from accessing treatment and support.

"It's time we stop using this language and start being more mindful and deliberate about avoiding pejorative terms."

How can we make positive change?

People judge because they don't understand. Those who use drugs aren't criminals, junkies or looking to cause problems. Often they are some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Before making a judgement about a person who has used or is using drugs, be well informed and focus on the person, not their substance use.

Sometimes people who use drugs experience discrimination and negative attitudes from those closest to them (family, friends), who do so without realising. Without family and peer support, those using drugs are more vulnerable and susceptible to harm. Family Drug Support (FDS) is an organisation that provides support and assistance to families who are dealing with a family member who is using drugs – learn more here.

Language matters is a resource from the Network of Alcohol & other Drugs Agencies (NADA) and the NSW Users & AIDS Association (NUAA) that encourages AOD workers to move away from out-dated terms like 'drug user' and 'addict' which stigmatise people who use drugs.

The resource advises workers to use person-centred language, which focuses on the person, not their substance use. According to NADA and the NUAA, using this type of language is a simple and effective way of showing respect to a person's agency, dignity and worth.

Lives of Substance contributors also said that sharing personal stories and talking openly about drug and alcohol consumption was a way to challenge stereotypes. Being aware of and acknowledging the stigma surrounding AOD use is a step forward and has the power to help those who need treatment or support.

Mary Ellen Harrod, chief executive of NUAA, said: "Empowering people by treating them with respect is a powerful catalyst for change".

Language and awareness matter, stop stigma today.

Do you know the facts about drugs and alcohol? Test your knowledge by visiting The Quiz Room here: https://bit.ly/2CRiNVE

To learn more about the Language matters resource click here

26/06/2018Stop stigma: The importance of seeing the person not the substance
NSW-Liquor-Gaming-announce-minimal-changes-to-Newcastle-CBD-Liquor-License-conditions.aspx
  
2/07/2018 9:34 AMDIMAURO, Sophie

​The NSW Liquor and Gaming Authority is considering only minimal changes to the liquor licence conditions of 14 late night trading hotels located in Newcastle CBD, following an independent review.

Chair of the Authority Philip Crawford announced: "The case for maintaining existing patron lockout restrictions in the 14 Newcastle venues, and for maintaining requirements for the sale or supply of liquor to cease 30 minutes before closing, was strong."

The minor changes that are being considered include no longer requiring the use of a common radio network, and plans of management to be reviewed annually rather than quarterly.

Mr Jonathan Horton QC was requested by the Authority to conduct a review of conditions imposed by the former NSW Liquor Administration Board in 2008 and the impact this has had on reducing alcohol-related violence. Following this request, Mr Horton released the Horton Report earlier this year, advising the Authority on the current liquor licence conditions.

Why was the Horton Report created?

Liquor licence conditions were imposed in Newcastle CBD in 2008 following community, police and medical practitioner concerns about late night alcohol-related violence. Since then, there have been many demographic, development and regulatory changes in the area.

Mr Horton states that although the 2008 liquor conditions were reliable in preventing alcohol-related violence at that time, some of these conditions have now become out-dated.

"Newcastle is no longer in need of a 'solution': what is required is a licensing regime which prevents a return to past problems and allows for the City to develop in a balanced way and in accordance with community expectations, needs and aspirations," wrote Mr Horton.

What conditions were considered?

As a result of the report and under the Liquor Act 2007, the Authority considered Mr Horton's recommendations.

Importantly, Mr Horton recommended trading hours remain the same as the existing hours as they "have proved successful in reducing alcohol-related violence to an acceptable level, since those hours were set". Horton went on to state, "to increase the hours would, in all likelihood, lead to greater violence".

Mr Horton's recommendations also included changing the conditions surrounding notification of licence conditions to staff, as well as a new requirement for each licensee to update their Plans of Management and perform an annual review of these in consultation with NSW Police.

After 10pm, Mr Horton recommended "drinks commonly known as shots, shooters, slammers or bombs or any other drinks that are designed to be consumed rapidly" are prohibited.

Who was involved?

Mr Horton conducted a process of public consultation between November 2017 and February 2018, where he received over 90 written submissions from a variety of stakeholders. This included NSW Police, public health bodies, academics, licensed businesses, industry bodies, private individuals and special interest groups.

Following the Authority's decision the licensees were provided with a period of 21 days to respond.

Mr Crawford commented: "We would like to express our gratitude to those members of the community who provided the written and oral submissions that informed the Horton Report."

The Horton report can be read in full here.

How important is language when it comes to discussing alcohol and drugs, and the people who use them? Find out by reading our article on why language matters 

5/06/2018NSW Liquor & Gaming announce minimal changes to Newcastle CBD Liquor License conditions
What-is-Get-Healthy-and-how-can-it-help-me.aspx
  
4/06/2018 3:12 PMDIMAURO, Sophie

​Have you heard of the Get Healthy service? This telephone-based coaching service provides NSW residents over 16 with a free personal health coach to guide and support them on their journey to live a healthy life - helping them to drink less alcohol, get active and eat well.

Alcohol consumption is associated with a risk of developing health problems such as mental and behavioural disorders, liver cirrhosis, some cancers and cardiovascular diseases, as well as injuries resulting from violence and road accidents. It is also a huge contributor to weight gain as it contains few nutrients for the body to use.

Get Healthy white small.jpg

If you are worried about your level of alcohol consumption then this program is for you. Get Healthy has an alcohol-reduction module designed to support you to drink a little less on a regular basis.

A health coach will assess your risk of drinking and provide you with the support and motivation you need to help you reach your alcohol reduction goal. Our coaches use the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), an internationally validated screening tool to screen for alcohol risk.

You are eligible for 10 to 13 phone calls with your coach and will receive an information book containing information about appropriate alcohol intake, an alcohol facts booklet and an alcohol journey book to help keep you motivated and record your progress.

The Get Healthy coach will also help you to:

  • Identify areas of challenge
  • Learn simple ways to improve your health
  • Set a healthy lifestyle goal
  • Create an action plan
  • Stay motivated on the journey

The Get Healthy service is for everyone! Learn more today by visiting: gethealthynsw.com.au/

Check out the Your Room Alcohol Risk Assessment here.

4/06/2018Drink less alcohol, get active and eat well! What is Get Healthy and how can it help me?
What-is-the-link-between-alcohol-and-cancer.aspx
  
12/07/2018 12:23 PMDIMAURO, Sophie

​Alcohol is the most widely used drug in Australia.

It is estimated by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare that we are among the highest consumers of alcohol worldwide. In NSW, a quarter of all adults drink at levels that place their long-term health at risk (2016 Chief Health Officers Report).

According to the Alcohol's burden of disease in Australia report:

  • 5,554 Australians die every year as a result of alcohol use

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) Annual Alcohol Poll 2018 shows that:

  • Australians have a low awareness of the long-term health conditions – including cancers - associated with alcohol

A Group 1 carcinogen

In recent years there has been public confusion over whether or not alcohol is harmful when consumed regularly (but not excessively), with media coverage claiming wine and other types of alcohol is good for you, with little research to support these claims.

There is sufficient evidence that ethanol - the chemical present in all alcoholic beverages - is a carcinogen (this falls into the same group as asbestos, arsenic and benzene). In other words, alcohol is a cause of cancer and any level of consumption increases the risk of developing an alcohol-related cancer. The level of risk increases in line with the level of alcohol consumption.

Cancer Council Australia advises there is strong evidence that alcohol use increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, stomach, bowel, liver and breast.

FARE's alcohol poll also found Australians have a low awareness of the long-term health conditions associated with alcohol. Less than half of those surveyed by FARE were aware of the link between alcohol misuse and stroke (38%), mouth and throat cancer (26%) and breast cancer (16%).

The link between alcohol and cancer

In 2010, 2.7% of all cancers diagnosed in Australia were attributed to alcohol consumption (Whiteman et al., 2015).

There are a number of mechanisms by which alcohol causes cancer. Once metabolised by the body, alcohol binds to DNA increasing the likelihood of DNA mutations and impairing cell function.

At even low levels of alcohol consumption, alcohol interferes with oestrogen receptors on cells to increase the levels of circulating oestrogen, which can lead to cell proliferation – a key initiating factor in the development of breast cancer for example.

According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) research shows that unsurprisingly the highest health risks are associated with heavy consumption - but there is also a considerable burden among those who are moderate to low consumers of alcohol. For example, a study on the impact of alcohol on prostate cancer showed that even at low-levels of consumption, alcohol increased the risk of prostate cancer development by 23%.

Your risk

Cancer Council Australia advise:

"There is convincing evidence that drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the bowel, breast, mouth, throat, voice box, oesophagus (food pipe) and liver.

"Even drinking small amounts of alcohol increases your cancer risk. The more you drink, the greater the risk. If you choose to drink, limit your intake."

Nearly five per cent of alcohol-related cancers in Australia could be prevented by reducing alcohol intake from four or more drinks per day, to two or less drinks per day, according to Whiteman.

The more a person drinks over a long period of time, the higher the risk of developing an alcohol-related cancer. Evidence also suggests that for some cancers it can take more than 10 years for alcohol-related cancer risk to even start to decline after ceasing alcohol consumption.

There is no evidence that cancer risk varies by the type of alcoholic drink, whether it is wine, beer or spirits.

The 2009 Australian Alcohol Guidelines by the National Health and Medical Research Council recommend:

  • If you drink regularly, drink no more than two standard drinks each day.
  • On any single occasion, drink no more than four standard drinks.
  • Young people under 18 years of age should not drink alcohol.
  • The safest option for a pregnant or breastfeeding mother is not to drink alcohol.

Drinking less frequently, e.g. drinking weekly rather than daily, and drinking less on each occasion, reduces the lifetime risk of alcohol-related harm.

How to prevent

While not everyone who drinks alcohol will develop cancer, the less alcohol you drink the lower your risk of cancer. There is no safe alcohol limit but the less alcohol consumed the better.

To prevent cancer caused by alcohol, quit drinking today. Across the globe there are thousands of people who live alcohol free. If you're not ready to quit, cut down your alcohol intake or speak to someone that can help guide you towards a healthier lifestyle. Get Healthy is a free NSW service that provides free telephone-based health coaching to help you to drink less alcohol, get active and eat healthily.

If alcohol is a problem for you, seek help. Find out which support and treatment is best for you here. Or call the free ADIS support line for more information: 9361 8000 (Sydney) or 1800 422 599 (for NSW regional callers).

Are your drinking habits are putting you at risk? Find out with the Your Room Risk Assessment.

References:

1. Is alcohol consumption a risk factor for prostate cancer? A systematic review and meta–analysis | Jinhui Zhao, Tim Stockwell, Audra Roemer, Tanya Chikritzhs | BMC Cancer. 2016; 16: 845. Published online 2016 Nov 15

2. National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol 2009 (Australia)

3. Whiteman, D. C., Webb, P. M., Green, A. C., Neale, R. E., Fritschi, L., Bain, C. J., ... & Pandeya, N. (2015). Cancers in Australia in 2010 attributable to modifiable factors: summary and conclusions. Australian and New Zealand journal of public health, 39(5), 477-484.

4. Rehm J, Patra J, Popova S. Alcohol drinking cessation and its effect on esophageal and head and neck cancers: a pooled analysis. International Journal of Cancer 2007;121(5):1132-1137.

1/06/2018What is the link between alcohol and cancer?
Butt-Out-on-World-No-Tobacco-Day.aspx
  
31/05/2018 9:25 AMDIMAURO, Sophie

​On World No Tobacco Day, new data shows a 7.3 per cent drop in smoking rates in NSW over the past 15 years.

According to the 2017 Population Health Survey, last year 15.2 per cent of adults smoked in NSW, down from 22.5 per cent in 2002, and more than half of NSW adults have never taken up smoking.

The NSW School Students Health Behaviours Surveys also shows that smoking among secondary students is at an all-time low of 6.7 per cent.

'Tobacco and heart disease' is the theme for World No Tobacco Day 2018 and focuses on the harmful impact of tobacco on the cardiovascular health of people worldwide. It highlights the health and other risks associated with tobacco use, and advocates for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.

Smoking increases the risk of many health conditions including coronary heart disease, respiratory disease and cancer. Tobacco use is the second leading cause of cardiovascular diseases, after high blood pressure. Cardiovascular diseases kills more people than any other cause of death worldwide. 

The NSW Government will continue to implement a comprehensive approach to reduce smoking rates. These includes public awareness and education campaigns for smoking cessation, quit smoking support, compliance and enforcement of smoke free and tobacco retailing laws, and targeted programs for particularly vulnerable groups.

NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said NSW Health's NSW Tobacco Strategy was working to help people quit smoking for good.

"It's good to see significant progress in tobacco control in NSW but we need to be vigilant to ensure that smoking rates continue to decrease, as there has been a stabilisation of rates in recent years," Dr Chant said.

"It is pleasing that the declines in smoking have been seen across population groups, including young people and Aboriginal people. We also know from the School Health Behaviour Survey that smoking among secondary students is at an all-time low of 6.7%."

World No Tobacco is a good day to talk to someone about quitting and get some help. NSW Health and its partner agencies have a range of initiatives to help smokers to quit smoking and stay quit. Smokers can call the Quitline Service on 131 848 or go to iCanQuit website to receive the latest information on quitting and ongoing support.

Want to learn more about the effects of tobacco? Check out our tobacco drug page here.

31/05/2018Butt Out on World No Tobacco Day 2018
Your-Service-Hub-Find-your-local-alcohol-and-drug-support-services.aspx
  
30/05/2018 8:55 AMDIMAURO, Sophie

​Together with the Department of Family and Community Services, the Ministry of Health has developed a comprehensive directory of health and community services across NSW. Your Service Hub is a tool people in NSW can use to find alcohol and other drugs support services near them.

The online directory is an especially useful source of information for:

  • People affected by someone else's substance use
  • People needing help with their own alcohol and other drugs use
  • Aboriginal people, LGBTI communities and culturally diverse groups

Your Service Hub has been designed to help people locate a wide range of alcohol, drug, health and community services across NSW. This includes family services, legal aid, domestic violence support and mental health services.

Using location and search terms like 'family', 'support' and 'alcohol counselling', you will be able to find services for yourself, friends, your partner or family, with the option to get more information if necessary.

Support services, community groups and other agencies that provide drug and alcohol support are encouraged to provide detailed information on services they offer. To register your service in the directory there is an option to 'Add Service'.

Check out Your Service Hub today. Unsure whether you need support or treatment? Click here to read about the main treatment types available.

30/05/2018Your Service Hub: Find your local alcohol and other drugs support services
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