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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. What is Family Drug Support and how can it help me?

    Drug-related harms and deaths do not discriminate based on age, ethnicity, gender, creed, wealth or socioeconomic status. Every day they continue to impact families across Australia and the rest of the world. Stigma is associated with drug use and can often prevent families from seeking support while increasing the risk of families losing those they care for to drugs. Although within recent years there is  evidence  of a decline in the use of some illegal drugs - including methamphetamines, hallucinogens and synthetic cannabinoids – there was an increase in the number of people impacted by drug-related incidents in 2016. Without family and peer support, those using drugs are more vulnerable and susceptible to harm. Often families play a crucial part in the treatment and recovery of individuals who use alcohol and other drugs in a harmful way. But supporting a family member or friend who has a dependence on drugs or alcohol isn't easy and can often be a difficult and upsetting process for families. This is why it is crucial for families to be aware that support and assistance is available.    Family Drug Support Family Drug Support (FDS) is a caring, non-religious and non-judgemental organisation that provides support and assistance to families throughout Australia who are dealing with a family member who is using drugs. FDS supports families in a way that strengthens relationships and achieves positive outcomes by providing: 1. A  24/7 support line for families experiencing the drug use of a family member or friend 2. Peer support groups for families 3. The Stepping Stones to Success group program for families 4. Other courses and resource s FDS is primarily made up of volunteers who have first-hand experience of the trauma and chaos of having family members with drug dependency. They have travelled the same road. Why is it important? According to research commissioned by FDS, half of all people would hide a family member's drug or alcohol use from their own friends. Tony Trimingham founder and CEO of FDS believes that this shame stops family members from seeking the help they need.  "My concern is that we are seeing overdose deaths increase each year and people hiding what is happening only increases the risk that families could lose those they care for to drugs," explains Tony. "Through our work we aim to de-stigmatise drug and alcohol problems and reinforce the message that drug-related harms and deaths do not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, money or any other factors and most importantly, that support and assistance is available." Studies  show that drug dependence takes a substantial toll on families, creating anger conflict and shame. It can destroy healthy family dynamics, as conflict escalates and the focus of family attention is on stopping and hiding drug use. As a consequence of stress and anxiety, parents and family members can often develop mental health and physical problems, including very valid fears for the life and wellbeing of the person using drugs. While support services like FDS cannot make drug use go away, they can have positive impacts on family members by helping them cope more effectively with the challenge of drug use within the family. Support groups: Provide knowledge about drugs, dependence and treatment De-stigmatise the experience and reduce self-blame Help with boundary setting Reduce conflict in families Encourage self-care Provide mutual support Allow for acceptance Work from the collective wisdom of the families and friends attending Help support 'effective communication' Provide education for the family member or friend FDS online interactive resource Funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health through the National Ice Action Strategy and in collaboration with  Readymade Productions  and FDS staff and volunteers, Australia's first interactive online resource designed specifically to support families struggling to deal with drug and alcohol use – has been launched. The  online resource  centres on the documentary film of a family support group, and will be of particular benefit to families in regional and rural communities who don't have ready access to support group meetings. The resource is designed to help families and friends of people using drugs and alcohol to become more resilient and better cope on their journey with the user. It provides different support for different circumstances. The new resource, together with the FDS' 24/7 telephone support line, will help ensure every family can access support when they need it. For everyone FDS is available to everyone. From those who suspect a family member or friend may be on the verge of alcohol or drug dependency, to those who have been silent about drug use within the family for many years, to families who are suffering bereavement. FDS believes that by helping families of drug users, they are ultimately helping the user. FDS CEO Tony had no help when he tragically lost his son Damien to a heroin overdose – but now there is somewhere for families to turn to. This is FDS' greatest legacy.   Are drugs a problem for someone you care about? Contact FDS today on 1300 368 186 or visit:   Find out how to approach drug issues within your family  here .     


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  2. Research about the long-term effects of methamphetamine use

    The University of South Australia have released research which shows that methamphetamine use is associated with long-lasting changes in movement which can resemble Parkinson's disease and changes in the movement-related regions of the brain.  Previous research used sonographic imaging to show that a part of the brain called the substantia nigra, is abnormally enlarged in young adults with a history of stimulant drug use. This abnormality is a well-established risk factor for Parkinson's disease. Researchers at the University of South Australia  measured this region of the brain in people who had previously used amphetamines, compared to three control groups: ecstasy users; cannabis users; and non-drug users. The researchers also assessed subjects using the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale, which is a tool used to measure the progression of Parkinson's disease.  The study found that the substantia nigra brain region was significantly larger among people who had used amphetamines compared to ecstasy, cannabis and non-drug users. The amphetamine only group also scored significantly higher than the control groups on the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale. These outcomes indicate an increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease later in life. In further research the University of South Australia surveyed 252 young adults aged 18-34 years to find out their level of knowledge about the long and short term effects of methamphetamine use. They found that less than 20% knew about the effects of methamphetamine on movement and risk of stroke, and knowledge of the effects of methamphetamine on the heart and kidneys was also poor. In response to this research they developed a new health campaign called 'Don't let meth take hold'. The campaign aims to increase knowledge about the long-lasting effects of methamphetamine use on the brain and on movement.  The campaign is designed to show the audience how methamphetamine use can impact on daily life and the ability to perform simple tasks. The campaign is designed to show what having impaired hand and brain function is like when using common objects.  'Our research shows that 47% of people have no idea that methamphetamine has any long-lasting consequences on health. This campaign seeks to change that.' Associate Professor Gabrielle Todd, University of South Australia The campaign is available for partner organisations to use and can be viewed  here . Want to know more about methamphetamine? Learn more  here . Photo credit -  Hal Gatewood 


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  3. Party safe: Top tips to stay safe at music festivals

    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. If you or a friend are experiencing any of the following symtoms, seek help immediately:   Confusion  Feeling hot/overheating  Vomiting  Feeling fast heart rate  Seizures  Unconscious     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.    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 hyperthermia 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 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  and  DanceWise NSW  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!   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.   Save a Mate  and  DanceWize NSW  provide non-judgemental safe spaces at festivals to chill out and offer support if you feel unwell or need a break.   Australian Red Cross – Save a Mate:  Click here to find out more NSW Users and AIDS Association – DanceWize NSW:   Click here to find out more   For accurate information about commonly used party drugs check out the Your Room A-Z Drug listing  here. 


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