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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. Wastewater shows highest cocaine use in NSW

    ​ New South Wales continues to report the highest average cocaine consumption in both capital city and regional sites of all locations tested nationwide, following the release of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission's sixth National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program report. Based on the wastewater findings for August 2018, New South Wales also reported the highest regional MDMA and heroin consumption in Australia. $9.3 Billion spent on four drugs Using data from the program, more than 9.6 tonnes of methylamphetamine is estimated to be consumed in Australia each year, as well as more than 4 tonnes of cocaine, 1.1 tonnes of MDMA, and more than 700 kilograms of heroin. At street prices, the estimated value of this quantity of drugs for the four drugs is in the region $9.3 billion, underlining the size of the black economy that relates to drugs alone. Why test the water? Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission Chief Executive Officer, Mr Michael Phelan APM said wastewater data increases our understanding of drug consumption in Australia including drug use patterns across states, territories and the nation. "Cannabis consumption has been included for the first time, showing regional average cannabis consumption exceeded capital city average consumption in August 2018. Its inclusion in the program provides further insight into one of the largest illicit drug markets in Australia," Mr Phelan said. "On a national level, of the drugs measured by the program with available dose data, alcohol and nicotine remain the highest-consumed substances. "As the program continues to build long term drug consumption data, fluctuations in consumption are evident. Understanding local drug consumption patterns assists law enforcement, policy, regulatory and health agencies develop targeted supply, demand and harm reduction strategies." Want to know more about the effects of a particular drug? Head to our A-Z of drugs at   


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  2. Party Safe: Top tips to stay safe at Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

    ​Every year the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras attracts hundreds of thousands of people who descend on Sydney to enjoy the most colourful night of the year. From the parade through Sydney's Darlinghurst, the beating heart of Sydney's gay scene, to the numerous after parties and special guest appearances, Sydney's Mardi Gras is the highlight of the Sydney queer social calendar.  Make your Mardi Gras experience one 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. Consider having a water between each alcoholic drink. Using illicit drugs like ecstasy, GHB or methamphetamine comes with risks. You don't know the purity, what other things have been added to them, the strength or how it will affect you. Avoid mixing alcohol with other drugs.  Mixing alcohol with GHB can cause you to lose consciousness, check out ACON's  Avoid the Drop Zone   campaign for more information.   It's important to tell someone you trust what you've taken, and to get help immediately if it's needed. If you feel like you need some support, look out for the ACON Rovers, a much loved team of volunteers who provide support and information at major LGBTI parties and events to make sure partygoers are kept safe. You'll find them wearing bright pink vests and looking out for people who might need a helping hand.  Remember if you do need to seek help from a medical professional, they aren't interested in getting police If you need medical attention, a paramedic will not call police unless there is a threat to safety. It is vital that you or someone you know tells a paramedic what you have taken, so they can provide the best possible care, involved. If you end up partying harder than you intended, ACON and other organisations have support and programs related to sexual health, alcohol, drugs and counselling available. For details visit or for more information on substance support and a self-diagnosis tool that can be used to identify problematic use. Eat, hydrate and stay cool   Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially if you're drinking alcohol. Mardi Gras can be a big weekend with multiple parties, so make sure you eat during the evening and if you are kicking on through the night, try and have some small snacks to keep yourself going.  Alcohol and other drugs can affect your body's ability to regulate temperature. If you find yourself feeling overheated while partying the night away, take regular breaks away from the crowds and allow yourself to cool down or seek help. 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 Large crowds can become overwhelming. If you're feeling overwhelmed or anxious, tell a trusted friend how you feel and move away from loud music and crowds. Find a calm place to chill out.  Some drugs 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 under the influe nce of drugs and alcohol.   Practice Safe Sex – Now There Are 3 Ways To Do It! Condoms play a vital role in preventing the transmission of HIV and other STIs, and with 60,000 free ACON condom safe packs at LGBTI venues and events during the Mardi Gras season, it's the cheapest and easiest way to stay safe. If a person is HIV negative, they can now take PrEP, an antiretroviral drug that prevents HIV negative people from becoming infected, If a person is HIV positive. It's now proven beyond doubt that HIV treatments can help reduce that person's viral load to an undetectable level, making it almost impossible to transmit the virus. There's no longer a one size fits all approach to safe sex. We can now choose from a range of strategies – condoms, PrEP or UVL – to maximise sexual pleasure while protecting ourselves and our partners from HIV. To find out more visit .  Make sure you and whoever you hook up with are both into it. Check for consent and make sure that you are both okay with what is happening Think About How You Will Get Home Before Mardi Gras, plan your way home and make sure you have enough money to pay for transport. 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 sober and not under the influence of any drugs.  Never get in a car with someone who has been drinking or taking illicit drugs drugs – it's just not worth it! CTA : Visit the  ACON  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 . Image Credit: Jeffery Feng Courtesy of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 


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  3. 7 Myths About Alcohol

    ​It's Australia's most widely used drug but many of us can't tell fact from fiction. Drinkers may be basing their drinking habits on misconceptions or out-dated beliefs, so here's a few sobering facts. Myth 1: Coffee will help to sober you up.  Fact : Sobering up, or getting the alcohol out of your body, takes time. Just about 10% of alcohol leaves the body in breath, sweat and urine, but most is broken down by the liver. The liver can only get rid of about one standard drink per hour. Nothing can speed this up – not black coffee, cold showers, exercise or vomiting.  Myth 2: The worst thing that can happen if you drink too much alcohol is a hangover. Fact : While the media often reports that small amounts of wine can be beneficial for your heart, there is 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 Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education's  alcohol poll  also found Australians have a low awareness of the long-term health conditions associated with alcohol. Fewer than half of Australians are aware of the link between alcohol misuse and stroke (38%), mouth and throat cancer (26%) and breast cancer (16%). Myth 3: Drugs are a bigger problem than alcohol. Fact:  Despite the media attention on drugs, it is still legal drugs, alcohol and tobacco that cause most harm in the community. The total disease burden of alcohol - that is life lost from early death, as well as years of healthy life lost due to living with diseases or injuries caused by alcohol - is 4.6% and well as alcohol being responsible for almost one-third of road traffic injuries. On its own illicit drug use is responsible for 2.3% of Australia's disease burden. ( AIHW 2016 )  Myth 4: It's ok to drink while taking other drugs Fact:  Using alcohol at the same time as any other drug can be dangerous. This includes drinking alcohol while using prescribed medicines from the chemist or doctor. One drug can make the negative effects of the other even worse. Alcohol can also stop medicines from working properly. Mixing alcohol with other drugs that slow down the body (e.g. sleeping pills, heroin, cannabis, methadone, buprenorphine) can: make it harder to think clearly make it harder to properly control how you move stop your breathing and cause death Myth 5:  It's young people who drink the most. Fact : This is not true. Research shows that the rates of underage drinking are decreasing.   Data  shows teenage drinking is at a new low, with 82% of 12-17 year olds abstaining from alcohol up from 72% in 2013. However,  rates of drinking  are increasing in the older Australian adults with 24% of 55-64 year olds reporting they have never had alcohol down from 29% in 2015. Older Australians are also drinking slightly more with 42% of 55-64 year olds in 2017 reporting they drink weekly up from 36% in 2015. Myth 6: Alcohol is not a drug. Fact : Alcohol is often not thought of as a drug because it is legal, however, alcohol is the most widely used drug in Australia and belongs to a class of drugs called depressants. Alcohol slows down the central nervous system and is second only to tobacco as a cause of drug related deaths and hospitalisations in Australia. Myth 7: Different types of drinks can make you feel different drunk Fact : No matter what the drink, alcohol is alcohol and the alcohol that is getting you drunk is ethanol. Scientists have  looked at specific alcohol related beliefs  called "expectancies". If you associate different types of alcoholic drinks with making you angry, sad or happy, then they are more likely to. As an example, if you have observed friends becoming a bit wild after drinking Tequila, and now you think Tequila makes you crazy, it may be because the Tequila was drunk in shots on a particularly large night out. On the other hand if you mostly drink wine with dinner you may associate and therefore expect wine to be a more calm and relaxed drink. If you believe that, it's more likely you will be calm and relaxed when you drink it. Want to know whether your drinking habits are putting you at risk? Find out with the Your Room  Risk Assessment   


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