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August 8, 2014

WE ARE DRUG USERS: VOICES FROM THE GLOBAL MOVEMENT OF PEOPLE WHO USE DRUGS

The recent 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne featured a screening of "We are drug users: Voices from the global movement of people who use drugs" - the story of drug user activism throughout the world.  When HIV was first identified in the early 1980's, it was clear that any effective response had to involve the engagement of the communities most impacted by the virus.  In Australia, drug user organisations were formed around the country - QuIVAA in Queensland and similar organisations in most states and territories.  This documentary tells the story of similar drug user organisations and activism throughout the world.  Drug user organisations have been crucial to the HIV response - developing peer education programs, fighting stigma and discrimination, and advocating for greater access to harm reduction services.

Watch "We are drug users: Voices from the global movement of people who use drugs" here.

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August 8, 2014

ALCOHOL'S BURDEN OF DISEASE IN AUSTRALIA

Turning Point in conjunction with the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) and the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation has published a report titled "Alcohol's burden of disease in Australia."  The report estimates that per capita adult alcohol consumption in Australia in 2010 was 10.42 litres of pure ethanol per person per year, with Northern Territory having the highest estimate of greater than 12 litres per person per year.  The report estimates that there were 157 132 hospitalisations attributable to alcohol in 2010 made up of 101 425 males and 55 707 females.  In males, injuries were the most common reason for alcohol-related deaths with 36% of deaths, whilst for females the most common reason for alcohol-related death was cardiovascular disease with 34% of deaths.

Download "Alcohol's burden of disease in Australia." (3.5MB PDF)

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August 1, 2014

DRINKING IN THE SUBURBS: THE EXPERIENCES OF ABORIGINAL YOUNG PEOPLE

The National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University has published a report titled "Drinking in the suburbs: The experiences of Aboriginal young people."  The report came about as Perth based Aboriginal organisation Maamba expressed concern about their young people consuming alcohol and getting into trouble on the suburban train network.  In this study, young people from the south and south-east metropolitan area of Perth were asked about their level of alcohol consumption, contexts of drinking, knowledge of health effects, responses to health promotion messages and their ideas for more effective health promotion.  The report has implications for includes suggestions for more effective health promotion including activity based health promotion and peer-based health promotion strategies.

Download "Drinking in the suburbs: The experiences of Aboriginal young people" (2MB PDF)

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August 1, 2014

RESILIENCE AMONGST ABORIGINAL YOUTH

The Telethon Kids Institute has published an article titled "Resilience amongst Australian Aboriginal youth: An ecological analysis of factors associated with psychosocial functioning in high and low risk family contexts".  The article uses data from the Western Australia Aboriginal Child Health Survey to look at the individual, family, cultural and community factors that impact on psychosocial outcomes from families considered either low-risk or high-risk.  They found that in high risk family contexts, pro-social friendships and low area-level socioeconomic status protected psychosocial functioning.  In low risks family contexts the perception of racism increased the likelihood of poor psychosocial functioning.

Download "Resilience amongst Australian Aboriginal youth: An ecological analysis of factors associated with psychosocial functioning in high and low risk family contexts". (245KB PDF)

 

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August 1, 2014

REMEMBERING THE GIN CRAZE

The BBC news magazine recently published a fascinating article remembering the "Gin Craze" that swept through England in the 18th century.  The article was prompted because 2014 is the 250th anniversary of the death of artist William Hogarth, who became famous for his "Gin Lane" depiction of the impacts of gin consumption.  This image led to the government introducing restrictions on the production and consumption of gin which was consumed by poor people, often adulterated and resulted in increases in criminal and anti-social behaviour.  Widely regarded as the first moral panic around substance use, the various policy positions employed in order to address the "Gin Craze" bring up wider issues of class, gender and race - issues that continue to be relevant when we consider policies to reduce AOD related harm in Australia today.

Read "When gin was full of sulphuric acid and turpentine"

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July 25, 2014

YOUTH SOCIAL EXCLUSION IN AUSTRALIAN COMMUNITIES

The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling at the University of Canberra has published a report titled "Youth social exclusion in Australian communities: A new index".  The report considers a number of domains that can lead to social exclusion including socio-economic background, education, caring responsibilities, access to health services and housing.  The report incorporates geographic data in its analysis of social exclusion, using specialised data from the 2011 census to create the first nation-wide geographically disaggregated index of young peoples' social exclusion in Australia.

Download "Youth social exclusion in Australian communities: A new index" (1.1MB PDF)

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July 25, 2014

ECSTASY AND RELATED DRUGS REPORTING SYSTEM 2013

The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) has published the results of their annual "Ecstasy and related drugs reporting system" (EDRS).  This annual study involves interviews with regular psychostimulant users about the price, purity and availability of a number of substances.  While the sample are not "representative", the EDRS attempts to provide evidence that is indicative of emerging issues that warrant further monitoring.  Findings of note include a decrease in the recent use of all forms of methamphetamine from 2012 to 2013, an increase in the recent use of LSD, while findings for the "New psychoactive substances" varied - synthetic cannabis was used by 16% of the sample in the previous six month period.

Go to "Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System National Report 2013"

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July 25, 2014

SCHOOL HEALTH AND ALCOHOL HARM REDUCTION PROJECT

The National Drug Research Institute developed a program called the "School Health and Alcohol Harm Reduction Project" (SHAHRP) a few years back, but we think it's worth revisiting.  SHAHRP is a school-based curriculum program that aims to reduce alcohol-related harm in young people who use alcohol.  The program was developed and evaluated over a 32 month period - the first phase is designed to be implemented in the first year of secondary school (prior to significant alcohol consumption commencing for most young people) over 8 - 10 lessons while the second phase occurs in the following year with 5 - 7 lessons.  The evaluation of the program demonstrated an immediate effect in reducing the harm that young people experience from alcohol as well as a 20% reduction in the amount of alcohol consumed.  Some of the SHAHRP materials have a moderate cost although this isn't as prohibitive as some programs.

Go to SHAHRP website to find out more.

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July 18, 2014

NATIONAL DRUG STRATEGY HOUSEHOLD SURVEY: FIRST RESULTS

The first results of the 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey have been released.  This survey is the primary source of prevalence data for substance use in Australia, occurring every 2 to 3 years since 1985.  The survey includes data from nearly 24 000 people aged over 14.  Some of the notable findings include increases in the number of young people abstaining from alcohol use (64% in 2010 up to 72% in 2013), declines in ecstasy use (from 3% in 2010 down to 2.5% in 2013), and no significant changes in cannabis or cocaine use.  Methamphetamine use was stable, however of those who reported methamphetamine use, the proportion who reported using crystal methamphetamine more than doubled (22% in 2010 up to 50% in 2013).  Also of note, the age of initiation for tobacco smoking increased significantly from 14.2 years in 2010 up to 15.9 years in 2013, while the overall smoking rates declined from 15.1% in 2010 to 12.8% in 2013.

Find out more highlights from the 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey

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July 18, 2014

MDMA-RELATED DEATHS: STOP CALLING THEM OVERDOSES

An article has been published on the Dancesafe website titled "MDMA-Related Deaths: Stop calling them overdoses".  This article has been published in response to a number of media reports in the United States that incorrectly describe MDMA deaths as being the result of an "overdose".  The article reviews some of the actual causes of death in these cases - many of which did not involve an "overdose".  Dancesafe are concerned that these incorrect messages can lead some people to erroneously believe that simply moderating their MDMA dose would be enough to avoid harm.  In many of the cases, deaths had occurred in people who had consumed moderate amounts of MDMA.  The deaths were often related to heatstroke, contraindicated health conditions (such as pre-existing cardiac problems) and hyponaetremia - all of which can occur from standard doses of MDMA.  This article provides an excellent overview of the correct harm reduction advice for MDMA users and also describes one of the relatively rare cases of a fatal MDMA overdose.

Go to "MDMA-Related Deaths: Stop calling them overdoses".

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