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May 4, 2018


Professor Nicole Lee has recently published an article on "The Conversation" website, titled "Drug rehab: what works and what to keep in mind when choosing a private treatment provider." When people hear "rehab" they usually think of residential rehabilitation or 'live in' treatment, but there are many other options such as outpatient treatment, day programs and home based detox.


Day programs are very similar to rehab except that people go home in the evenings. Having these options with varying levels of intensity is important so that there are treatment options for a wide range of people. There are a number of alcohol and other drug therapies that have an established evidence base for individual and group therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy.


When choosing options for rehabilitation, it is important to assess the program content and consider factors such as the cost, the program duration and what is important to the individual such as family involvement. Also account for the service delivering the program, some questions to ask include- do the staff running the program have appropriate skills and qualifications in alcohol and other drug treatment, is the service accredited and is the program delivery informed by the evidence base?  Something to keep in mind is that there is no evidence that a higher cost of treatment leads to better treatment outcomes.


To access the full article click here.

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April 27, 2018


Professor Wayne Hall has recently published a editorial for "Drug and Alcohol Review" titled "How should we respond to cannabis-impaired driving?" In the article, Professor Hall describes a recent international symposium on drug impaired driving, which attempted to unpack this issue.  One of the primary problems with roadside saliva testing for cannabis use, is that these tests do not have any correlation with actual impairment caused by THC. This makes it difficult to assess whether or not roadside saliva testing for cannabis can have a road safety benefit and critics of the approach says that these types of test are designed to discourage cannabis use rather than protect public safety.  In this article, Professor Hall describes the challenges related to responding to cannabis-impaired driving and describes the areas of research that are needed to adequately respond to these challenges.

Go to "How should we respond to cannabis-impaired driving?"

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April 13, 2018


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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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