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December 8, 2017

REALITY BITES: AUSTRALIA'S YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT IN A MILLENNIAL ERA

The Brotherhood of St Laurence has published a report titled "Reality Bites: Australia's Youth Unemployment in a Millennial Era."  Despite widespread media reporting on Australia's falling unemployment rate, the unemployment rate amongst young people is more than double that for the whole population. This high rate of unemployment amongst young people accelerated following the global financial crisis in 2008, and alongside this increase has been an increase in the number of young people who are unemployed long term (more than one year).

Download "Reality Bites: Australia's youth unemployment in a millennial era" (420KB PDF)

 

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October 13, 2017

2016 NATIONAL DRUG STRATEGY HOUSEHOLD SURVEY: DETAILED RESULTS

We wrote about the "National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016" (NDSHS) back in June, however since then the full results have been released. The NDSHS is Australia's largest population based survey of alcohol and other drug use. The 2016 results show a continued decline in young people's use of alcohol and other drugs. The survey showed that fewer young people were taking up smoking tobacco and furthermore, young people who were smoking were smoking less. Binge alcohol use was also down. The proportion of 14 to 19 year olds consuming 5 or more standard drinks significantly declined between 2013 and 2016 (from 25% to 18%). Among people in their 20s, there was a significant decline between 2013 and 2016 in recent use of methamphetamine (from 5.7% to 2.8%).  Most of the increases in alcohol and other drug use occurred in the older age groups.


Go to the "National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016: Detailed findings"

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July 20, 2017

LOWER-RISK CANNABIS USE GUIDELINES: A COMPREHENSIVE UPDATE OF EVIDENCE AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The American Journal of Public Health has published a systematic review by Fischer and colleagues called "Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines: A Comprehensive Update of Evidence and Recommendations", examining the evidence on the adverse health outcomes from cannabis that may be modified by the user. Ten major recommendations were developed for lower risk use, some of which include avoiding early initiation, particularly before 16 years, choosing low potency THC or balanced THC to CBD ratio products, avoiding synthetic cannabinoids, deep inhalation practices, high frequency use and driving while under the influence. The authors conclude that poor health outcomes may be reduced by informed behavioural choices among users and with cannabis laws evolving in North America, suggest Lower-Risk Use Cannabis Guidelines could serve as a population level education tool to help improve public health outcomes.

Read and download the review here

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June 9, 2017

GLOBAL DRUG SURVEY 2017: RESULTS OUT NOW

Global Drug Survey 2017 results are in with over 115,000 people from around the world (5,750 from Australia) providing information on their drug use, harm, harm reduction strategies and more. The survey gives a great snapshot of a population that often don't come into contact with treatment services. Some interesting facts from the survey are that 44% of the Australian participants desire to drink less and 1/3 of those would like help.  Cannabis remains the world's most widely used illicit drugs and if it was to be regulated 75% of all participants would like to see cannabis regulation guidelines similar to alcohol. Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) with a psychedelic effect profile including LSD analogues are increasing and represent over 50% of the NPS drugs used by the sample.

Check out many interesting facts from Global Drug Survey 2017 here

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January 20, 2017

HEALTH CHECK: WHAT MAKES IT SO HARD TO QUIT DRUGS?

Associate Professor Nicole Lee from the National Drug Research Institute published an article on "The Conversation" in December titled "Health Check: what makes it so hard to quit drugs?" The article looks at how alcohol and drugs affect neurotransmitters in the brain particularly dopamine which regulates emotion, motivation and pleasure. Withdrawal and tolerance is discussed and how people will continue to use substances to avoid the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms. A number of risk factors for dependence are listed such as trauma, connection to school and community to name a few and whether it is possible to make changes to drug dependence with or without the support of behavioural and cognitive therapies and sometimes medication.

Read the article here

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November 25, 2016

THE HEALTH OF QUEENSLANDERS 2016

The annual report from Queensland's Chief Health Officer has been released.  "The Health of Queenslanders 2016" contains a wide range of information including life expectancy, trends in smoking, obesity, hospital admission rates and more.  There are also reports available for each hospital and health service district, with data on local trends in demographics and health problems.  This local data provides services with the ability to plan for changes in their regions, and to target specific health problems.


Go to "The Health of Queenslanders 2016"

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October 7, 2016

IS CBT AN EFFECTIVE TREATMENT FOR YOUTH SUBSTANCE USE?

The Centre for Evidence and Implementation has published a plain English research summary from The Campbell Collaboration titled "Cognitive-behavioural therapies to treat non-opioid drug use in young people is no better or worse than other treatments".  The research summary looked at 17 papers that were reporting on 7 different randomised controlled trials, collectively involving 953 study participants.  The author found that CBT was no better than other treatments in achieving total abstinence in young people who were in outpatient treatment.  There were no differences in the outcome if Motivational Interviewing was included in the treatment, and there were also no effects of the CBT on other areas of a young person's life including social functioning, school problems or criminal activity.


Go to "Is CBT an effective treatment for youth substance abuse?"

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July 29, 2016

CHILD, ADOLESCENT AND YOUNG ADULT SUICIDES IN QUEENSLAND

An article has been published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Behaviour titled "Child, adolescent and young adult suicides: A comparison based on the Queensland suicide registry". The Queensland suicide registry records all suicides in Queensland since 1990, and contains information from police reports, autopsy and toxicology information, Coroner's findings and a narrative report of the circumstances of death. In this report, 850 youth suicides from 2002 to 2011 were analysed, focusing on differences between the age groups 10-14 (children / early adolescents), 15-19 (late adolescents) and 20-24 (young adults). Across the entire sample, the authors found that one in five young people had made a previous suicide attempt, and more than one third had communicated their intent to commit suicide in the twelve months before their deaths. The authors found a number of important differences across the age cohorts. For example, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people made up 45.2% of suicides in the 10 - 14 year old age group.

Read "Child, adolescent and young adult suicides: A comparison based on the Queensland suicide registry"

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May 20, 2016

IS ADDICTION A BRAIN DISEASE?

An article authored by Dr Sally Satel has been published on The Conversation website titled " Is addiction a brain disease?"  Sometimes referred to as the "hijacked brain" hypothesis, the theory that addiction is a brain disease is based on our understandings of the changes that occur in the brain when exposed to substance use for a period of time.  However, in this article, Dr Satel states: "Addiction is not a problem of the brain: it is a problem of the person."  She goes on to provide an overview of research into this area, which is sometimes framed as the "disease versus choice" dichotomy.  Dr Satel goes on to describe the benefits of treatments that rely on improving a client's ability to make choices and develops their sense of self-control.

Go to "Is addiction a brain disease?"

 

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May 20, 2016

WHAT MAKES AN EFFECTIVE TREATMENT SERVICE?

A fascinating article has been published on the UK-based "Drug and Alcohol Findings" website, titled "What makes an effective treatment service." The article provides an overview of a broad range of evidence into effective service delivery. They describe one study which found highly marginalised clients more effectively assisted by alcohol and drug workers who were non-conformist and who valued hedonism and stimulation, over more conservative alcohol and other drug workers.  The authors also describe an innovative study from the United States that involved workers conducting a "walk through" - experiencing the treatment system themselves through a live action role play, that starts at the telephone intake, through to assessment and intervention.  These live action role plays revealed poor staff engagement, impersonal interactions, inadequate equipment, convoluted administrative procedures and more.  The article provides a number of other examples of research into service improvement from around the world.

Go to "What makes an effective treatment service?"


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