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April 13, 2018

LIVING WITH FASD

Radio National's Life Matters program recently featured an episode titled "Living with FASD". The radio program features an interview with Anne Russell, whose son has FASD. Anne describes how FASD impacts her son, and some of the challenges of getting appropriate diagnosis and support. The show also features Dr Doug Shelton, a paediatrician who specialises in FASD, who talks about some of the impacts of FASD, and the approaches to better recognising and managing FASD.

Listen to "Living with FASD" here.

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April 6, 2018

SCHOOL SUSPENSIONS AND EXCLUSIONS: MORE HARM THAN GOOD?

Dr David Armstrong from Flinders University has recently published an article on The Conversation website titled "Why suspending or expelling students often does more harm than good." Research over the years has shown that young people who are suspended or excluded from school tend to be further disadvantaged and more at risk of engaging in substance use, become involved in criminal activity or develop mental health concerns. This article explores how our school system accommodates disadvantaged students and how we can best respond.

Go to "Why suspending or expelling students often does more harm than good"

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March 30, 2018

DOES LANGUAGE MATTER?

The language we use can be powerful, especially when working with vulnerable populations. The Network of Alcohol and other Drugs Agencies (NADA) and NSW Users and AIDS Association (NUAA) have developed a resource called Language Matters; it aims to provide workers with best practice on how to utilise language in a way that empowers clients. Words and labels used within the drug and alcohol sector can have connotations attached to them and create stigma for users which can create further disadvantage.

The resource was developed through consultation with people who use drugs and non government AOD workers and can be accessed here.

 

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March 23, 2018

ARE RATES OF COCAINE USE INCREASING?

An article has been published on The Conversation website titled "Cocaine: The glamour drug of the 70's is making a comeback".  The article describes the history of cocaine, the ways that it works and presents some data around rates of use in the Australian population. The 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey found the proportion of people using cocaine has been increasing since 2004. Cocaine was reported to be the second most commonly used illicit substance in Australia, after cannabis at the highest rate seen over the last 15 years. Between 2001 and 2016, lifetime cocaine use increased across all age groups except for 14-19 year olds, with significant increases between 2013 and 2016 for people in their 30s and 40s. Whilst the Household survey demonstrated that recent use of cocaine has increased across most age groups it is unclear if rates are increasing amongst Australian young people.

 

Go to "Weekly Dose: Cocaine, the glamour drug of the 70's, is making a comeback"

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March 16, 2018

CHILD PROTECTION AUSTRALIA 2016-17 REPORT RELEASED

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) have released Child Protection Australia 2016-17 report.  The report shows the rate of children receiving child protection services rose to 1 in 32 children, with almost three-quarters (74%) of children being repeat clients. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were significantly overrepresented.  In 2016-17, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were 7 times more likely to have received child protection services and 10 times more likely to be in out-of-home care. A total of 47 915 children were in out-of-home care across Australia with 41% having been in care for five years or more.  And for the first time the report presented data on disability status in out-of-home care.  In 2016-17, data on the disability status of children in out-of-home care were available for six jurisdictions.  Overall, 15% of children in out-of-home care were reported as having a disability.

Go to "Child Protection Australia 2016-17"

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March 9, 2018

SUBSTANCE USE AND HEPATITIS C INCLUDED IN NEW PREGNANCY GUIDELINES

The 2018 Clinical Practice Guidelines: Pregnancy Care have been released and provide updated evidence-based guidance to maternity service providers and other relevant healthcare professionals. This edition contains updates on a number of topics, including Hepatitis C and substance use. The guideline encourages routine Hepatitis C testing at the first antenatal visit and advises all health professionals to ask women about alcohol and other drug use in a non-judgemental way to enable referral and access to support from alcohol and drug services.

 

You can access the Guidelines here (Large File Download - 6.5MB PDF)

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February 23, 2018

THERE ARE FOUR TYPES OF DRINKER: WHICH ONE ARE YOU?

The Conversation has recently published an article by Professor Emmanuel Kuntsche and Dr Sarah Callinan titled "There are four types of drinker - which one are you?". The article describes the motivational model of alcohol use, which describes our motivations to drink alcohol in terms of the effects that we expect to achieve.  The model proposes four categories of drinking motives: enhancement (to increase positive feelings), coping (to decrease negative feelings), social (to have fun with friends) or conformity (to fit in with other people). Understanding these motivations can assist us in understanding how to effectively address problem drinking.

Go to "There are four types of drinker - which one are you?"

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February 22, 2018

THE EFFICACY AND ACCEPTABILITY OF ANTIDEPRESSANT MEDICATIONS

A significant study has been published in The Lancet, titled "Comparative efficacy and acceptability of 21 antidepressant drugs for the acute treatment of adults with major depressive disorder: A systematic review and network meta-analysis."  This review included 522 placebo-controlled and head-to-head trials involving 116 477 participants. The authors found that all the antidepressants included in the study were more effective than placebo. They found that some antidepressants had a relatively higher response and lower dropout rate than others, indicating that a balance between efficacy and tolerability is needed to ensure that the benefits of antidepressant medications are maximised.

Go to "Comparative efficacy and acceptability of 21 antidepressant drugs for the acute treatment of adults with major depressive disorder: A systematic review and network meta-analysis."

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February 2, 2018

FESTIVAL GOERS' PERCEPTIONS OF DRUG CHECKING AT MUSIC FESTIVALS

A study titled "Music fesitval attendees' illicit drug use, knowledge and practices regarding drug content and purity: A cross-sectional survey" has been published in the Harm Reduction Journal. The study involved a cross-sectional survey completed at an Australian music festival by over 600 festival attendees. Results showed nearly three-quarters of participants had reported use of illicit drugs in the past 12 months (mostly cannabis and ecstasy) and the majority of festival attendees supported free drug checking at festivals, reporting that the results a drug test would be likely to influence their drug taking behaviour.

Read the full article here.

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February 2, 2018

ICE PSYCHOSIS: WHAT IS IT, AND WHY DO ONLY SOME PEOPLE GET IT?

An article has been published on The Conversation website titled "Ice Psychosis: What is it, and why do only some people get it?".  The article, authored by Dr Shalini Arunogiri, describes a systematic review of risk factors for methamphetamine-associated psychosis published in January 2018 in the Australia and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. The study aimed to ascertain why some methamphetamine users are more likely to experience psychosis than others. The study found that the majority of people who use methamphetamine do not experience psychosis and that frequency and amount of methamphetamine used, and the severity of dependence, were the factors most commonly associated with the risk of psychosis. Factors such as age, gender, income or employment status and the way in which people used methamphetamine (for example by smoking versus injecting), did not appear to affect the likelihood of psychosis.

 

These findings can assist healthcare workers and treatment services to identify people who might be at greatest risk of methamphetamine psychosis and support those who aren't ready to stop using the drug to change the frequency or pattern of their use which might help them avoid developing psychosis.

Read "Ice Psychosis: What is it, and why do only some people get it?"

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