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September 22, 2017

THE SOCIAL LIFE OF OPIOIDS

An article has been published in the magazine "Scientific American" which we think will be of interest to Dovetail subscribers.  "The Social Life of Opioids"describes a number of articles that look at the links between social factors and opioid dependence.  One article referenced includes a study that showed that for every 1% increase in unemployment in the United States, opioid overdose death rates would rise by 4%.  Another study found U.S. counties with the lowest levels of social capital had the highest rates of opioid overdose death.

Go to "The social life of opioids"

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September 15, 2017

OPIOID OVERDOSE FACT SHEET AND RESPONSE PLAN

The Community Overdose Prevention and Education initiative is funded by the Victorian government, and is designed to improve community understanding and responses to opioid overdose.  They have recently developed a handy fact sheet on opioid overdose, which includes risk factors that can contribute to overdose, signs and symptoms, and a response plan that includes first aid and naloxone administration.

Download the "Opioid Overdose Fact Sheet and Response Plan" (1.6MB PDF)

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August 25, 2017

REDUCING DEPENDENCE ON OPIOID PAINKILLERS IN RURAL AND REGIONAL AUSTRALIA

The Conversation recently published an article titled "How we can reduce dependency on opioid painkillers in rural and regional Australia?" The article discusses the unique challenges faced by people living in rural and remote communities in accessing support for opioid dependence.  Issues related to a lack of services or long travel times to treatment, as well poor help seeking and a general lack of knowledge around the limitations of opioid treatment for chronic pain were all noted as some of the barriers. However, services have been looking at innovative ways to provide support to our rural communities through the use of technology. Telehealth chronic pain initiatives as well as online websites with education for chronic pain sufferers as well as training for community workers have been developed to help close the opioid treatment service gap.

Go to "How we can reduce dependency on opioid painkillers in rural and regional Australia?"

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August 11, 2017

CODEINE SCHEDULING CHANGES: FEBRUARY 2018

Commencing in February 2018, medications containing codeine will require a prescription. The re-scheduling has been introduced by the Therapeutic Goods Administration following evidence of increasing misuse of over-the-counter codeine. It's possible that this change in scheduling could lead to an increase in people seeking treatment for codeine dependence, and workers in the youth and alcohol and other drugs sector should be aware of this change and start thinking about how your service can prepare to best support people who might be having problems with codeine dependence.

Find out more from the Therapeutic Goods Administration

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August 4, 2017

IS THE WELLBEING OF METHAMPHETAMINE USERS WORSE THAN HEROIN USERS?

The latest Illicit Drug Reporting Reporting System (IDRS) Drug Trends Bulletin is titled "Is the wellbeing of people who inject drugs worse for those who use methamphetamine rather than heroin?".  The report considers data from the IDRS which involved 877 people who regularly inject substances.  Of the sample, 59% of people regularly injected opioids, 34.9% regularly inject methamphetamine.  There were a number of statistically significant differences between the two groups, with 41.4% of the methamphetamine users reporting a very high distress score of the K-10, compared with 14.5% of opioid users.

Download "Is the wellbeing of people who inject drugs worse for those who use methamphetamine rather than heroin?"

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March 10, 2017

ADF DRUG FACTS

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation (formerly known as the Australian Drug Foundation) have re-launched their Drug Facts website.  The site contains information on a broad range of drugs, in an accessible format suitable for any worker.  Each fact sheet contains information on the specific substance including how the substance is used, an overview of the effects and harms, and information on rates of use in the population.

Go to the ADF Drug Facts website

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October 31, 2014

2014 IDRS / EDRS KEY FINDINGS AVAILABLE

Every year, the National Drug and Alcohol Research and Education Centre (NDARC) conduct two studies of regular drug users.   The Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) and the Ecstasy and Related Drugs Study (EDRS) interview people in all states of Australia, and looks at trends in price, purity and availability of various drugs.   The results from the most recent study indicates that whilst heroin continues to be the most commonly injected drug of choice, the use of ice / crystal form of methamphetamine has increased significantly with purity reported as being "high".  Similarly whilst the most popular form of ecstasy consumed is in tablet form, there has been an increasing trend in the use of MDMA crystal which is considered a much more potent form of ecstasy.

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November 2, 2012

INCREASING DEATHS FROM PRESCRIPTION OPIOIDS

There has been growing evidence that deaths from prescription opioid use is on the increase across Australia.  Drugs like oxycodone and fentanyl have been increasingly prescribed for chronic non-cancer pain, leading to concerns that doctors may be over-prescribing.  Professor Louisa Degenhardt from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) has written an article for the ABC's Drum Opinion site titled "Prescription opioids: a painful problem".  Professor Degenhardt explains these trends by showing that there are in fact a number of complex factors at play which has led to the increasing use of opioids in Australia.  This includes the aging population, leading to increasing numbers of people living with chronic pain, but also the overlap between chronic pain and mental health problems like depression.  There also seems to be a disproportionate focus on people who inject illict drugs, despite most of the evidence suggestsing this population consume only a very small amount of the oxycodone being prescribed.

Read "Prescription opioids: a painful problem" here

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March 23, 2012

ANCD POSITION PAPER ON SUSTAINED RELEASE NALTREXONE

Many workers have been concerned about the use of sustained release naltrexone for opiate dependence, despite limited evidence of safety or efficacy.  The Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD) have now released a position paper on this issue, where they describe the current situation (where implants are being accessed via the "Special Access" scheme run by the Therapeutic Goods Administration) as "ethically problematic as it puts patients at risk of unknown harms, for an unknown benefit."

ANCD Position Statement:  Naltrexone Sustained Release Preparations (Injectible & Implants) (385KB PDF)

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July 27, 2011

2010 NATIONAL DRUG STRATEGY HOUSEHOLD SURVEY REPORT

The 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey was conducted between late-April and early-September 2010. This was the 10th survey in a series which began in 1985, and was the fifth to be managed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). More than 26,000 people aged 12 years or older participated in the survey, in which they were asked about their knowledge of and attitudes towards drugs, their drug consumption histories, and related behaviours.

The Survey report shows positive and significant reductions since 2007 in daily tobacco smoking; mixed findings on alcohol consumption and risk; and a small overall rise in illicit drug use. In terms of attitudes to drugs, excessive alcohol use and tobacco smoking were nominated as the two most serious concerns to the community - and there were higher levels of support than previously for tobacco and alcohol harm reduction policies.

For more information or to review the report, visit the AIHW website here: AIHW National Drug Stategy Household Survey 2010 Report

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