Your Room

FASD Day - 9 September 2017


Stay Strong and Healthy

​9 September is FASD day – a good time to remind pregnant women and all the community that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). A child born with FASD may have a range of problems including physical defects and a life-long challenge with learning, behaviour, memory, language, communication and everyday living.

The disabilities associated with FASD are permanent and preventable.

Go to for Women Want to Know brochures, videos and e-learning courses which encourage health professionals to routinely discuss alcohol and pregnancy with women and to provide advice that is consistent with the NHMRC Guidelines.

For Aboriginal Stay Strong and Healthy FASD videos and resources for community and health professionals go to and

  1. Staying younger is harder on the drink

    What's the secret to staying younger for longer? If you don't rethink your alcohol consumption then the benefits of healthy habits, such as eating healthier foods, exercising and keeping the brain stimulated, could be lost. When we think of harmful drinking, rarely do we think about people above the age of 50. However recent figures from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) show that while young people are more likely to abstain from alcohol than any other time since 2001, people aged 50 years and over are engaging in increasingly risky drinking.   High risk drinking among older Australians is on the rise The NDSHS refers to very high risk alcohol consumption as drinking 11 or more standard drinks on one occasion at least monthly, with this high risk behaviour on the rise in people aged 50-59 nationally. In NSW, the latest Population Health Survey found that older people in the state are now more likely to drink every day than younger people, increasing their lifetime risk of harm. According to figures from the NSW Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence, alcohol was responsible for the deaths (disease or injury) of 1,530 people aged 50 and over, compared with 262 for those under 50, in the year between 2015 and 2016. Why the increase? Some studies suggest that while people drink for a variety of reasons, there is a link between increased alcohol use and life changes, like entering retirement. As people go through changes to their daily routine and social activity, or they experience events such as the death of a loved one, social isolation, sleep disturbances or mental health problems, they may find themselves relying on alcohol or other drugs to cope. Although we can't pinpoint exactly why, reports by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, the National Drug Research Institute and NCETA, show risky drinking among older Australians has been on the rise significantly since 2004 and could be related to those big life changes. The time to act is now The World Health Organization has said that harmful drinking is a contributor to dementia and early cognitive decline, which includes issues with memory, thinking, judgement and speech. Older people also often have complex health issues or take medications which means that any level of alcohol consumption can pose a range of other serious health risks. The Australian Medical Association, suggest that general practitioners (GPs) treat alcohol addiction as they would a serious illness and encourage GPs and Doctors to talk with their older patients about their alcohol use so they can incorporate preventive care.   If you're not sure if your drinking is a problem have a chat with your GP or use our online confidential      Alcohol Risk Assessment Tool  to identify if you're at risk. Getting active It's not all doom and gloom - engaging in regular social activity, exercise, eating healthy, mental stimulation and limiting alcohol intake, reduces the risk of falls, injuries and chronic disease.  Where isolation and access to healthy activity may be a barrier, there are some great websites and services that can help people find programs in their area. The  NSW Active and Healthy website  assists older people and health professionals to find physical activities and fall prevention programs across NSW - there are over 1,000 programs listed. Getting help to reduce alcohol The Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol say that, "For healthy men and women, drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day reduces the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury". The guidelines also state that older people need to take special care, specifically because alcohol negatively impacts those who are on medications and have physical health problems.   It is important to note that drink serving sizes are often more than one standard drink – National Health and Medical Research Council Check out our interactive  Standard Drink Calculator  for measurements.   Get Healthy  is a free phone-based service providing personal health coaching to people who need support to reduce alcohol consumption. The program offers up to 10 coaching calls to support people to achieve a healthy weight, eat healthier, increase levels of activity and reduce alcohol consumption by making small simple changes. The NSW Get Healthy Service is available Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm. To enrol call 1300 806 258 or register online at .   For free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drugs 24 hours, 7 days a week, call the Alcohol Drug Information Service (ADIS) on     1800 250 015 . 


    Read more
  2. Busting the myths on alcohol and breastfeeding

    Caring for a newborn baby can be a challenge, especially when mothers have multiple opinions and advice coming at them with often conflicting messages. One thing we know for certain is that smoking, drinking alcohol and using other drugs while pregnant or breastfeeding can harm mothers and their babies.  Drinking alcohol during pregnancy increases the chances of a child developing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), a type of acquired brain injury that can cause life-long complications for learning, growth, behaviour, memory, language, communication and everyday living. There's really no such thing as a safe amount of alcohol for anyone. The Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol, which were developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council, recommend that no alcohol when planning a pregnancy, while pregnant and breastfeeding is the safest option. No alcohol when breastfeeding is the safest option A baby's growth and development depends on the food they get. Although there is lower risk in drinking alcohol during breastfeeding, alcohol is concentrated in breastmilk so can cause serious harm to the baby as well as affect the mother's ability to produce milk. Drinking alcohol while breastfeeding requires careful planning, monitoring and specific actions so as to avoid these dangers. The FASD Hub provides information and advice on how to safely breastfeed at . The power of breastmilk Breastmilk is the quintessential human superfood, it not only feeds but provides protection against disease and infections like sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), 'glue ear' or ear infections, respiratory infections, diarrhea, eczema and allergies. Breastmilk is also the ultimate transformer, adapting itself to the needs of the baby each time the baby feeds. The first milk, known as colostrum contains high concentrations of antibodies, is nutrient dense and adds beneficial bacteria to their digestive tract.  Throughout breastfeeding the baby's saliva sends messages back to the mother, changing the nutrient makeup of the milk to make the baby's immune system stronger. Beyond pumping and dumping Expressing breast milk and throwing it away to help remove alcohol, otherwise known as 'pumping and dumping', does not reduce the amount of alcohol in breastmilk. As it is with blood, only time can bring down the levels of alcohol in breastmilk. "No amount of pumping and dumping will clear the alcohol from the breastmilk, it's really time and metabolism." – Dr Roslyn Giglia, Alcohol, pregnancy & FASD researcher According to the Australian Breastfeeding Association, a number of factors affect how much alcohol can get into your breastmilk, including: the strength of alcohol in your drink how much you are drinking what and how much you've eaten how much you weigh 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 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 their pregnancy. You can speak to a Get Healthy in Pregnancy Service coach by calling 1300 806 258 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 .   For free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drugs 24 hours, 7 days a week, call the Alcohol Drug Information Service (ADIS) on  1800 250 015 .   


    Read more
  3. Wastewater report provides an insight into Australia’s appetite for drugs

    The seventh report from the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program has been released by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC). The report shows data collected in December 2018 from 50 wastewater treatment plants in Australia, covering 54 per cent of the population or 12.6 million people, and monitors 13 substances.   Tobacco and alcohol remain the highest consumed drugs Australia vs international estimates As well as reporting on over half the population, the report compares Australia's estimated drug use with international drug use data. The Australian wastewater data was compared with similarly available data from 25 countries and shows that Australians are the second highest users for the stimulants methylamphetamine (methamphetamine or ice) after the United States, second highest users of MDMA after the Netherlands and seventeenth in cocaine use.   Methylamphetamine [remains] the highest consumed illicit drug Snapshot of Australian drug use Compared with the collection in August 2018 which covered around 56 per cent of the population, the December report shows there was a decrease of approximately 2 per cent coverage, however the trends in the report are fairly consistent with the August findings. As with previous results from August, this seventh report showed that NSW had "the highest average capital city and regional consumption of cocaine in the country".  Once again regional use of drugs such as tobacco, methylamphetamine, MDMA, oxycodone, fentanyl and cannabis is estimated to be higher than in the cities. Cocaine and heroin use is reported as higher in the city than regional areas. The ACIC led report has noted an estimated increase in "the population-weighted average consumption of MDMA" in both regional and city areas and an increase in "the population-weighted average consumption of heroin in capital city sites". While the rate of use for these drugs is lower than other illicit drugs, the data appears to show those who use are using more, which if accurate signals a change that warrants some careful examination in upcoming reports.  Changes in NSW drug use Comparing the results from the August report with the December 2018 report, the ACIC found the following changes in NSW: Levels of  alcohol ,  cocaine ,  oxycodone  (pharmaceutical opioid) and  fentanyl   decreased in the city  but  increased in regional  areas Levels of  MDMA   increased in the city  but  decreased in regional  areas Levels of  methamphetamine or Ice  and  heroin   increased in both the city and regional  areas  Levels of  cannabis or marijuana   decreased in both the city and regional  areas Levels of  tobacco   increased in the city  and remained relatively  stable in regional  areas This year the Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program received an additional $4.8 million to continue its work over the next four years, delivering three reports per year.  The full report is available at .   For free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drugs 24 hours, 7 days a week, across NSW call the Alcohol Drug Information Service (ADIS) on  1800 250 015 . 


    Read more
Your Room > What's New > FASD Day - 9 September 2017