RESIDENTS of Sydney's northern suburbs are probably admitted to hospital more often for drink-related illness and trauma than their fellow citizens because they have better access to health services and education, a Curl Curl addiction specialist says.
''If you average it out, people from different areas probably have the same incidence of drinking,'' said Ben Teoh, the clinical director of South Pacific Private Hospital. ''I think people here have more access to treatment and education, so more of them are aware of the problems and therefore seek help earlier.''
Hunters Hill, Manly and Mosman are in the top five Sydney local government areas for the most alcohol-related admissions, even though the residents in these generally wealthy northern suburbs are otherwise the city's healthiest, a Herald statistical analysis has found.
While the northern suburbs were the healthiest parts of Sydney, they were let down by hospital admissions linked to alcohol use. Hunters Hill, Manly and Mosman made up three of the five local government areas with the most admissions. The figures include only residents of those suburbs - not people who visit them to drink.
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The healthiest local government area in Sydney, which topped three categories and did not fall in the bottom five for anything, was North Sydney.
A new smoking ban near children’s play equipment in council parks did not go far enough to protect young people, according to Labor Party councillors.
Independent councillor Brendan Luchetti moved staff recommendations at the December 13 meeting that Blue Mountains City Council (BMCC) introduce a ban on smoking within 10 metres of play equipment in parks and playgrounds under council control following Cancer Council of Australia recommendations that children be protected from secondhand smoke.
“It’s a bit of a no-brainer, really,” he told the meeting.
But Labor councillors Mark Greenhill, Adam Searle and Alison McLaren said the proposal didn’t go far enough.
State and territory health ministers and the Federal Government got together this month and decided alcohol doesn't need a comprehensive set of health warning labels.
Instead, they agreed to start looking into alcohol warning labels designed to caution pregnant women.
While pregnant women account for a small proportion of Australian drinkers, nobody would argue against warning them about drinking, especially given the known risks to the fetus. But the equally important and much bigger challenge is to tackle the hazardous drinking culture in the wider community.
Passive smoking-related lung cancer survivor launches smokefree flats campaign
Action on Smoking and Health | 15th December 2011
A man who developed lung cancer after repeated exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke has called for stronger legislative and other action for smokefree multi-unit housing.
Barrister, surf champion and lifelong non-smoker Peter Lavac spoke in Sydney today (December 16) at the launch of new online resource from ASH Australia, Smokefree multi-unit housing: a guide for owners, tenants, agents, authorities and governments* – whichcalls for legislative, policy and practice reforms to prevent smoke drift into people’s homes.
Peter Lavac underwent an operation in 2008 to remove a lung tumour, after monitoring lung impacts of his secondhand smoke exposure. He remains cancer-free since the operation.
The ASH Guide was launched at a Wollstonecraft (Sydney) block that recently adopted a smokefree by-law.
Liquor outlets are concentrated in the poorest areas of Victoria which have up to six times more bottle shops in their neighbourhoods than their well-off neighbours, according to new research.
Alcohol and drug centre A Turning Point and VicHealth undertook research using census data to rank 10 rural and regional and 10 metropolitan areas by level of social disadvantage, and compared those areas with liquor licensing data from 1991 to 2008.
They found that based on the number of alcohol licences per person, those disadvantaged areas in and around the city had access to twice as many bottle shops than people living in the wealthiest areas.
'Tis the season to be jolly. For many, this includes an increased likelihood of consuming alcohol or recreational drugs. But, if the idea is getting high to get happy, then it's worth considering the latest research.
A new study suggests that ecstasy may be causing permanent harm to users' brains. It's old news that the drug brings on a high by elevating seretonin levels - a chemical that regulates mood, appetite, sleep and learning. But, it appears that it also simultaneously depletes the brain of seretonin, inhibiting the receptors. This can lead to long-term depression, weight gain and a diminished ability to learn.
Governments eye court action to make cigarette companies pay
Herald Sun | 12th December 2011
Federal and state governments could take big tobacco to court, seeking compensation for smoking's health-care costs.
Two international tobacco giants have launched billion-dollar legal action, seeking the suspension of plain packaging laws that will see all cigarettes dressed down in drab green packaging.
Two more companies will begin action in coming days.
But the states may mount their own court challenge within months.
And today in Melbourne, Commonwealth lawyers and public-health and law experts are to meet veteran anti-tobacco campaigner Matthew Myers, who helped US states claim about $206 billion in health-care compensation from tobacco firms.
DO YOU support tobacco companies, gambling and the makers of weapons and pornography? Before you answer no, you might want to check your superannuation fund.
Ethical investment researchers say many Australians are unwittingly investing in ''sin stocks'' because they have not examined their super funds or because their funds do not actively promote their investments.
The nation's food ministers have failed to make the big decisions to address Australia's obesity problem and the health and social costs of alcohol, health groups say.
State and territory food ministers have signed off on the introduction of mandatory pregnancy warning labels on alcohol but followed the federal government's lead in rejecting the "traffic light" system of food labelling.
Former federal health minister Neal Blewett's review of food labelling had recommended that a traffic light system be introduced to help consumers make healthier food choices.
Australian healthcare & hospitals assocation | 5th December 2011
Alcohol is consumed by more than 80 per cent of Australians, making it the most widely used drug in Australia. Sadly, the 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey shows that the proportion of those drinking at risky levels increases with geographical remoteness.
People who live in rural and remote areas are 32 per cent more likely to drink at levels that risk causing lifetime harm and 24 per cent more likely to drink at levels that are at risk of resulting in single-occasion harm.
This is due to a range of factors typical of rural areas including a limited range of types of venue for recreation, stoic attitudes about help-seeking, economic and employment disadvantage, and less access to healthcare professionals and alcohol treatment services. A combination of interventions, targeted to meet the particular conditions and needs of rural communities, can reduce accidents and ill health arising from misuse of alcohol.
Addicts aren't necessarily bad mothers, study finds
The Sydney Morning Herald | 5th December 2011
MANY mothers with a history of serious drug use are still capable of caring for their children, given the right support, a new study has found. But most mothers in the state's methadone programs were not getting the services they needed.
The study found a child was more at risk of abuse or neglect because of a mother's mental health problems and social isolation than from the drug problem itself. ''You can't say all drug-using parents are abusive; some are quite together,'' said the co-author of the study, Stephanie Taplin, a visiting fellow at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.
About 7 million Australians take recreational drugs but no one will talk about it openly, writes David Marr.
"What's wrong with taking drugs?" I was losing my temper with the ABC journalist Peter Lloyd at a book event in Sydney. The poor bastard had endured months of imprisonment in Singapore for possessing half a gram of ice and written a fine account of his ordeal, Inside Story. But I felt there was a false note at the heart of the book.
Lloyd wouldn't admit he had enjoyed drugs. Over and again he used the earnest formulation that drugs were his way of dealing with the stress of covering grisly stories in Asia.
Research shows industry regulated alcohol labels won't work - FARE
CommunityNet | 30th November 2011
Market research has overwhelmingly rejected the alcohol health warning labels recently launched by the Australian alcohol industry in favour of informative, clear and specific labels produced by the Foundation for Alcohol Research & Education (FARE).
Across all categories, the alcohol industry’s labels were dismissed in preference for the FARE labels:
95% selected the FARE health warning labels as being more noticeable.
89% believed the FARE health warning labels are more likely to raise awareness of alcohol]related harms.
88% felt the FARE health warning labels would be more likely to prompt conversations about alcohol related
Health groups bamboozled by government inaction on alcohol warning labels
The Council Cancer | 30th November 2011
Government accepts industry rather than expert recommendations
A coalition of health agencies described today's response by the Federal Government to the national Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy as a lost opportunity to address the significant health and social cost of alcohol in Australia.
The Alcohol Policy Coalition, an alliance of health groups, is disappointed and baffled by the Government's decision to reject expert recommendations to include broad-ranging health warnings on alcoholic beverages, supported by social marketing campaigns.
While the Government has indicated support for warning labels for pregnant women, Alcohol Policy Coalition (APC) member, Todd Harper, CEO of Cancer Council Victoria, said labels aimed only at pregnant women were targeting a minority of drinkers.
THE release of new guidelines suggesting naltrexone be considered as a possible treatment for severe problem gamblers has triggered renewed calls for more research into the use of the drug to help heroin addicts.
Naltrexone blocks the opioid receptors that heroin, morphine and similar drugs lock on to, but its use to combat drug addiction remains highly controversial worldwide.
Guidelines released this week suggested naltrexone might prove useful for severe problem gamblers, although the evidence for using naltrexone for this condition remains weak.
Australian Study – Energy drinks and alcohol don’t mix
Australian Medicine Online | 21st November 2011
Consumption of alcohol and energy drinks in Australia is now the norm, according to an Australian study, with young people consuming between three to five alcohol and energy drinks a night, and some drinking up to ten – well above recommended limits.
The study was commissioned by the Foundation of Alcohol Research and Education and undertaken by Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre. The study is one of the first to examine the effects of alcohol and energy drinks in Australia.
The study found that energy drinks were marketed cleverly and were highly associated with fun and energy. They were also well promoted and heavily discounted as some venues.
Alcohol health warning labels: attitudes and perceptions
Australian Policy Online | 21st November 2011
There is strong support for the use of health warning labels on alcoholic beverages as a potential tool to raise awareness and prompt conversations about risks, and to encourage reductions in alcohol consumption. 58% of people surveyed indicated they support the use of health warning labels on alcoholic beverages. When asked about who should develop and regulate health warning labels, there was clear support for both to be government led and not industry led. 52% of people surveyed thought the government must be involved in the development of health warning labels. 24% believed the alcohol industry should do this, and the remaining 24% thought another body should be involved or were unsure. Even more people supported government regulation of health warning labels, with 72% of people in favour of this. Only 12% believed the alcohol industry should regulate health warning labels.
Australia's drugs regulator is facing calls to overhaul the system of medication warnings for pregnant women amid claims it is outdated and confusing.
Dr Debra Kennedy, a clinical geneticist at the Hospital for Women in Sydney, says the system makes doctors and pharmacists too cautious about prescribing certain medications and sometimes scare pregnant women about potential risks.
As a result many pregnant women, including those on antidepressant, put their health at risk by not taking medication despite there being little chance of harming their unborn babies
A major tobacco company has launched legal action against the Federal Government just hours after plain packaging laws were passed by Parliament.
Under bills which passed the House of Representatives today, all tobacco products sold in Australia will have to be in plain packaging from December 1, 2012. The bills had already been approved by the Senate.
Philip Morris Asia reacted to the passage of the laws by announcing it had served a notice of arbitration under Australia's investment treaty with Hong Kong. The company was also planning to launch a High Court challenge to the laws in Australia.
Philip Morris Asia spokeswoman Anne Edwards said the company had been left with no other option.
An annual survey of regular ecstasy users, taken earlier this year, found 46 per cent had also taken LSD within the past 12 months.
That number is markedly higher than last year, when the figure was 38 per cent, and has been steadily climbing since the 2003 survey of ecstasy users (28 per cent).
The study, undertaken by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, noted there had been a "significant increase" in recent use of hallucinogens across the Australian population in general.
The number of Australians aged over 14 who have tried hallucinogens such as LSD stands at 8.8 per cent, according to the 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, released in July.
And Australians who had recently used hallucinogens increased from 0.6 of the population in 2007 to 1.4 per cent in 2010, according to the survey.
Labor to target alcohol abuse and truancy in NT by witholding welfare
The Sydney Morning Herald |15th November 2011
THE Gillard government will legislate to improve appalling school non-attendance rates in the Northern Territory, hauling truant indigenous children and their parents in front of school officials and Centrelink officers for counselling before welfare is cut off as a last resort.
In a move to strengthen intervention laws, Labor will use the bill to crack down on alcohol abuse and grog runners, who unlawfully transport alcohol into ''dry'' remote communities.
Powers governing welfare income management will be boosted, giving authorities the right to withhold up to 70 per cent of a proven alcohol abuser's pension or welfare payment for rent, food and clothing.
Australian women continue to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol during pregnancy, a new study reveals.
Research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies has found 18 per cent of women smoked and 38 per cent of women drank alcohol while pregnant, with younger mothers more likely to smoke and older mothers more likely to drink while pregnant.
The study, based on data from Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, which has tracked the progress of more than 10,000 children since 2004, found nearly 37 per cent of mothers under 25 smoked cigarettes during their pregnancy, compared with just 10 per cent of mothers aged 30 and over. This includes women who smoked only occassionally.
Some young people are drinking up to 10 cocktails of alcohol and energy drinks a night, putting them at risk of dangerous health effects such as increased heart rate and alcoholic poisoning, a new study shows.
The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education is calling for urgent action to stem the growing use of alcohol and caffeine-rich energy drinks, including a ban on the sale of pre-mixed products.
Research carried out by the Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre found the combined use of alcohol and energy drinks was now the norm in Australia, with young people drinking between three and five drinks a night, and some as many as 10, well above recommended limits.
The findings are being released at the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs in Hobart today.
Alarm at growing addiction problems among professionals
theguardian | 13th November 2011
Experts are calling for urgent action to tackle the "significant challenge" of rising levels of alcoholism and substance abuse among professionals including doctors, dentists and lawyers.
At the first international conference of its kind, in Ireland this weekend, there were calls for the UK government to help the silent mass of professionals who were "functioning alcoholics".
Rory O'Connor, the UK co-ordinator of health support programmes for dentists and veterinary surgeons, told the Observer that Britain was turning a blind eye to a huge problem. He said: "There are serious issues regarding health professionals accessing appropriate help for mental health issues and there are serious issues in the treatment that is out there for them."
Australia is to become the first country to enforce the plain packaging of cigarettes but tobacco companies have vowed to fight the new legislation in court.
From December next year, all cigarettes will be sold in olive green packs, which research has shown is least appealing to smokers.
Under the new laws, approved by the upper house of parliament, no trademark brand logos will be permitted on any packaging of tobacco products, although companies will be able to print their name and the cigarette brand in small, prescribed font on the packets.
The boxes will continue to carry stark health warning messages and pictures, which will cover 75% of the front of the pack and 90% of the back.
Lung cancer in women on rise, while male rates decline
The Council Cancer Australia - 4th November 2011
More girls smoking than boys adds urgency to passage of plain packaging bills
New research showing increased lung cancer rates in Australian women adds urgency to the need to further de-glamourise tobacco smoking, Cancer Council Australia said today. The research should add urgency to the federal Parliament’s passage of plain packaging for tobacco bills.
Cancer Council Australia CEO, Professor Ian Olver, said a net increase in lung cancer incidence in Australian women compared with men could be attributed to chronological differences in smoking behaviour between the sexes
Labor's legislation on plain packaging of cigarettes is set to pass parliament next week, but tobacco products won't be sold in olive-brown packages until the end of 2012 - five months later than originally planned.
The federal government says it will ram the draft laws through the Senate next Thursday with a "limited" debate followed by a vote.
The coalition supports the main plain packaging legislation but not an associated trademarks bill.
The punishment must fit the crime, even for drug users
The Sydney Morning Herald - 2nd November 2011
Australia's exports could include its approach to drug possession.
The case of the Australian boy arrested on drug charges in Bali offers the opportunity to review our nation's own response to drug use, both here and abroad.
While empathy for the boy's family is warranted and genuine, the case should also raise the question of what would happen to someone in Australia caught with a similar small amount of cannabis or other illicit drug.
The most recent data we have is provided in the Australian Crime Commission's annual illicit drug report for 2010. It reports that there were almost 50,000 arrests of adults and minors for cannabis possession alone in Australia last year - that's almost 1000 people a week.
Australia is famous for our love of drinking. It's embedded in our culture (cue the champagne bottle popping) - at births, deaths, and everything in between. We love a cold beer on a hot summer day, a glass (or four) of wine after 'a hard day at work' and if you ask any Aussie backpacker on your travels they'll tell you Australians will drink anyone under the table.
For a long time it's been our claim to fame, something that we regularly assert bragging rights over in social situations with our international friends
Australian research offers new hope for drug addiction treatment
ABC News - 31st October 2011
Australian scientists say they're one step closer to developing new addiction treatments that will spare users of heroin and other drugs from distressing withdrawal symptoms.
The research, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, shows for the first time that a protein in nerve cells that drives withdrawal symptoms such as chills, sweating, cramps, increased heart rate and greater sensitivity to pain.
NO MATTER which horse you're backing on Tuesday, there's one safe bet - tribes of blithering messess will be stumbling out of race tracks and restaurants and vomiting on footpaths.
Melbourne Cup, like last weekend's Gold Coast 600, is a barometer of a drinking culture that is as toxic as it is stupid.
It's a culture, or rather cult, that has spawned terms such as piss-fit (how "well" your body has been trained, through drinking like a fish, to handle inordinate amounts of booze) and the mantra "eating is cheating", adopted by teenage girls who view food (which slows the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream) as foe.
PICTURE ID for alcohol sales together with a dangerous drinker register would help cut crime, MP Bob Such says.
He has introduced legislation to Parliament which would ban people with a record of domestic violence, drink-driving and other crimes from buying takeaway alcohol - mirroring a Northern Territory scheme.
There would also be penalties for people who supply liquor to someone on the blacklist. Dr Such said he had raised the proposal with Police Commissioner Mal Hyde, who "seemed to be quite interested in it".
Study links teen violene to soft drink consumption
News.com.au - 25th October 2011
SCIENTISTS have reacted with scepticism to a US study which has found a link between the high consumption of soft drinks and violence in teens.
The study, carried out by the Harvard School of Health, reported high-school students who consumed more than five cans of non-diet, fizzy soft drinks every week were between nine and 15 per cent more likely to engage in an aggressive act compared with those who drank less.
It was based on answers to questionnaires filled out by 1878 public-school students in inner-city Boston aged 14 to 18, where crime rates are much higher than in wealthier suburbs.
Tough new drink-driving rules if children in the car
NSW Local Inner West Courier - 25th October 2011
DRINK- or drug-affected drivers who get behind the wheel with children in the car could face jail or have their licences suspended under tough new legislation introduced by the NSW government last week. In the past five years, more than 130 children under the age of 16 were injured or killed as passengers of drunk drivers.
Premier Barry O’Farrell said he was “disgusted” by the rising trend of parents putting their children at risk.
Look beyond the scare stories: the kids are all right
The Sydney Morning Herald - 25th October 2011
So for the benefit of any editors who are planning another piece exploring “the problem with kids these days”, here is a look at our youth through a different lens.
Despite being told of the “Drug epidemic in NSW schools”, according to the 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, the rate of cannabis use by teenagers aged 14-19 has halved since 1998. In the previous 12 months, the same survey showed 90 per cent of teens hadn’t used cannabis at all, and 97 per cent hadn’t used cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamines or heroin.
DISCOUNT supermarket giant Aldi will begin stocking its shelves with $1 beers - including 80c cans of light - across New South Wales from next year, despite objections from NSW Health.
The state's licensing authority has shrugged off warnings against selling super-cheap alcohol in supermarkets to give Aldi the green light for 34 outlets to stock beer for $1 a can and wine for as little as $2.25 a litre.
Health officials formally objected to the issuing of the new liquor licences, particularly in some regional and rural areas, insisting the increased access will "contribute to further alcohol-related harm and negative health outcomes".
A survey has confirmed what many Australians already knew: a large percentage of the population cannot socialise without alcohol.
It’s common knowledge that alcohol is fairly engrained in the Australian culture, and back in August the London Telegraph even published a how-to guide on surviving Australian social situations, entitled Beer, meat and sheilas... surviving Australia’s Great Sacred BBQ.
A "disgusted" NSW Premier Barr O'Farrel Has pledged tougher sentences for alcohol or drug-affected drivers who get caught with children in their cars.
Mr O'Farrell on Thursday announced the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act will be amended to make the presence of children under 16 an "aggravating" factor for drivers caught under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The premier pointed to a spate of recent cases, including a Sydney woman who was caught almost three times over the limit with five children in her car.
Imagine a plateau; a straight line that then becomes a slippery slide. At the end of the curve is an X. That X signifies the end of the ride for a young person suffering from mental illness, or drug and alcohol problems. It can mean a damaged future, or even death.
During Mental Health Week, the annual October awareness-raising campaign, we are reminded of the increasing number of older children and young teenagers presenting to hospital emergency departments. These range from self-harm to challenging behaviours including aggression and acute mental illness.
SELLERS of so-called "legal highs" can create and market new drugs so quickly that it will become difficult for authorities to keep on top of the problem, a drug conference has heard.
Just changing one carbon of a chemical compound can mean a new drug is developed, and using the internet backyard-developers can find these drug structures through old academic research papers and patent applications, according to Peter Vallely, a special investigator from the Australian Crime Commission.
The University of New South Wales- 17th October 2011
Use of ice (crystal methamphetamine) by drug users in Australia increased significantly between 2010 and 2011 according to research on emerging drug trends by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at the University of New South Wales.
The research, which examined trends in drug use among both people who inject drugs and regular ecstasy users, found increases in ice use in both these groups. Forty five per cent of people who inject drugs had used ice in the previous six months (39 per cent in 2010) as had 26 per cent of regular ecstasy users (17 per cent in 2010).
Meanwhile, ecstasy use continues to lose popularity: 27 per cent of regular ecstasy users nominated ecstasy as their drug of choice in 2011, down from 37 per cent in 2010.
Surge in crystal meth use prompts concern a mental health effects
The Sydney Morning Herald- 17th October 2011
USE of crystal methamphetamine, or ice, by drug users in Australia has increased significantly since last year, research shows.
Almost half of injecting drug users and a quarter of regular ecstasy users this year reported using ice in the previous six months, a study on drug trends by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of NSW found.
Lucy Burns, a senior lecturer at the centre, said this was a worrying pattern because of the serious effects of ice on mental health. ''Methamphetamine is associated with psychosis, aggressive behaviour and unpredictability,'' Dr Burns said. Full Article
Kids can get alcohol for as little as 25c online
Herald Sun - 18th October 2011
VICTORIAN kids are getting drunk on alcohol sachets ordered from overseas websites for as little as 25c a shot.
Community workers have slammed the Chinese and South African websites selling the bags, containing liquor, including vodka, rum and gin, to Australians without any identification checks.
The Sunday Herald Sun found at least four websites that offered to post the bagged cocktails to Australian addresses.
While there are laws about sniffing petrol in the Aboriginal lands in northern South Australia, Mr Miller said there was a dire need to apply the laws across the state so that police and programs such as his, the Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council's Makin' Tracks, could order petrol sniffers into treatment.
"While we are mainly funded for remote programs, we do get cries for help from families with someone who is a petrol sniffer who has come down to Adelaide," he said. "The concern is that because petrol sniffing is not recognised as a problem unless it's in an Aboriginal community, it's hard to get funding to help us deal with it in the city.
RAISING the legal drinking age would do nothing to stem the tide of alcohol-related social and health problems among young people, the NSW Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, says.
Mr Scipione, who has previously advocated having the debate about lifting the drinking age above 18, told The Sun-Herald alcohol abuse needed to be addressed in the family home and peer groups, not with the long arm of the law.
''We can't arrest our way out of this problem,'' he said. ''If my only problem was the drinking age, then I think we'd be going well.
Many women still smoking despite previous cancer diagnosis
Herald Sun- 29th September 2011
MANY Australian women continue to smoke and drink after being diagnosed with breast cancer, increasing their risk of further cancers.
The Australian study found two out of every three women who were cigarette smokers when their breast cancer was diagnosed still smoked two years later.
Of heavier smokers, only one in 10 was likely to quit, a Bupa Health Foundation Health and Wellbeing After Breast Cancer study found.
The research also showed that being diagnosed with breast cancer had little effect on alcohol consumption of moderate to heavy drinkers, despite excess drinking increasing the risk of breast cancer recurrence and death.
People entering Australian prisons are more than three times more likely to be current smokers than the rest of the population, a new survey has shown.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare will today issue its report on the health of Australia's prisoners, based on data from the National Prisoner Health Census conducted in June last year.
The census of incoming prisoners found 82 per cent of Queensland prison entrants were current smokers in 2010, compared to the national rate of 23 per cent in 2004/05, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Year 12 students Rickelle Kenny and Lawrence Considine say alcohol is hard to avoid, with drinking a part of every aspect of Australian culture from social events and celebrations to funerals.
The 17-year-olds were among 300 young people interviewed for a report into attitudes to drinking among 14 to 17-year-olds in WA.
Both said they believed young people were able to control their drinking and most did not drink to excess. Neither thought alcohol was a negative thing but said binge drinking was dangerous and more education was needed.
"Drinking is something many teens get into," Rickelle said.
Lone men up to 4.9 times more likely to die of alcohol-related liver disease
The Conversation - Wednesday 21st September, 2011
Men who live alone are up to 4.9 times as likely to die of alcohol-related liver disease than men who live with a partner, a Finnish study has found.
The study supports theories that socialising can help contribute to a long and healthy life, experts have said.
The study, led by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki, involved analysis of 80% of all people who died in Finland between 2000 and 2007. Of those, about 18,200 people died from underlying alcohol-related causes such as liver disease, alcoholic poisoning, accidents, violence and cardiovascular disease. Of those 18,200 people, about two-thirds lived alone.
The Sydney Morning Herald - Wednesday 21st September, 2011
LIVING alone has a new downside: a greater chance of drinking yourself to death.
Not only are the bills all yours, but social isolation increases the likelihood of dying of a smorgasbord of alcohol-related causes, Finnish researchers say.
These include alcohol poisoning and liver disease, accidents, violence or cardiovascular disease, say the researchers, led by Kimmo Herttua, from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
"A lack of social relationships should be regarded as a potential risk factor for death from alcohol-related causes," their study published in PLoS Medicine says.
"Further research in other countries is now needed to identify whether living alone is a cause or effect of alcohol abuse and to extend these findings to cultures where the pattern of alcohol consumption is different," they said.
People born after the World War II era -- especially women -- are more likely than their ancestors to binge drink and develop alcohol disorders, according to a new review of studies.
The analysis of 31 studies revealed that "problem drinking among young women is still on the rise," study researcher Richard A. Grucza, an epidemiologist at Washington University School of Medicine, said in a statement. And because the rates of binge drinking are rising among women, so are the risks of alcohol-related problems.
Representing some of Australia’s leading health groups, the Alcohol Policy Coalition (APC) released a paper today challenging a commonly-held belief that red wine is beneficial for preventing cardiovascular disease.
According to the ACP’s paper, titled Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease and Alcohol Consumption the potential for any benefit to the heart from red wine is “misunderstood”.
The APC paper says that, although red wine contains antioxidants, it is “not a good source of antioxidants to prevent heart disease or maintain heart health”.
Members of the APC include the Australian Drug Foundation, Cancer Council Victoria, Heart Foundation, Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, and VicHealth.
The Sydney Morning Herald - Wednesday 14th September, 2011
THAILAND'S new Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, is mobilising a crackdown on illegal drugs as a United Nations agency reveals a huge increase in the production and use of amphetamines across Asia.
The crackdown comes seven years after a ''war on drugs'' overseen by Ms Yingluck's older brother Thaksin Shinawatra during which still unidentified assassins killed almost 3000 Thais involved in drugs.
The Sydney Morning Herlad- Monday 12th September, 2011
SENIOR police are concerned the public is becoming desensitised to alcohol-related violence after three serious incidents at the weekend, including a man who allegedly went on a drunken rampage in a stolen taxi.
Assistant Commissioner Denis Clifford yesterday said the problem was not necessarily the late night trading hours of pubs and clubs but the drinking culture that now existed
MELBOURNE researchers hope to determine for once and for all whether the occasional glass of wine during pregnancy harms an unborn child.
Murdoch Children's Research Institute scientists are investigating whether low to moderate quantities of alcohol at different stages of pregnancy are linked to health and development problems in babies and toddlers.
Lead researcher Associate Professor Jane Halliday said while it was known heavy alcohol use was harmful, this was the first longitudinal study to look at the effects of low to moderate drinking during pregnancy.
Social websites are the new tool of trade for drug pushers
Adelaide Now - Monday 5th September, 2011
SOUTH Australian drug users are increasingly buying illegal drugs from overseas on internet sites such as Facebook and Silk Road
Police, Customs and the Australian National Council on Drugs have confirmed a growing number of websites offering illegal drugs to users around the world at the click of a computer mouse.
SA Drug Investigation Branch Detective Inspector Derryn Phillips said police across Australia were working with Federal Police and Customs to target websites trafficking illicit drugs and those using the modern technology service.
"The trafficking of illicit substances via the internet is a transnational problem for all jurisdictional law enforcement agencies," he said.
The Sydney Morning Herald - Saturday 3rd September, 2011
Raging bulls on the footy field, drive-by shootings, a glassing epidemic with women the perpetrators, nightclub bouncers accused of viciousness, old women bashed for their pension change, battered wives, English mayhem, authorities sinking under the weight of terrible child abuse. It's easy to suspect we're going to hell in a handbasket, that we've abandoned respect, that we're doing unto others precisely what we'd hate done to us. That violence - the starkest emblem of incivility and chaos - is multiplying quicker than a bookmaker's clerk.
While we celebrate steep declines in most crime categories - including homicide - the most extreme form of violence, assault, remains stubbornly high. According to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, the people of this state are twice as likely to be assaulted than in 1990. Assaults stopped rising a decade ago and have dipped slightly since, but they are the exception rather than the rule of crime trends.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is now being revealed as a tragic legacy of alcohol misuse. And the condition is not isolated to marginalised, disadvantaged communities, researchers say.
Children from all socio-economic groups are affected and while some have telltale changes in facial features and physical development (labelled FAS - fetal alcohol syndrome), for many the signs are more subtle learning, behaviour and memory difficulties.
Warning bells are ringing over concerns about the health and social implications of a shift in Australia's drinking culture.
Consumption has steadily risen since the 1990s and an estimated 30 per cent of all hospital admissions to emergency departments are related to excessive alcohol consumption. Police say it is responsible for 70 per cent of their workload.
Healthway chairwoman Rosanna Capolingua, who is also a GP, sees the damage alcohol can do every day in her practice.
Social networking increases risk of teen drug abuse: study
The Sydney Morning Herald - Thursday 25th August, 2011
Time spent social networking increases the risk of teens smoking, drinking and using drugs, according to a national survey of American attitudes on substance abuse.
On a typical day, 70 per cent of teens ages 12 to 17 - 17 million teenagers - spend from a minute to hours on Facebook, Myspace and other social networking sites, according to The National Centre on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University.
But for this same age bracket, social-network-savvy teens are five times more likely to use tobacco; three times more likely to use alcohol; and twice as likely to use marijuana than teens who do not spend any of their day on social networking sites.
FOUR of the five largest US tobacco companies have sued the federal government over new graphic cigarette labels that include the sewn-up corpse of a smoker and a picture of diseased lungs, saying the warnings violate their free speech rights and will cost millions of dollars to print.
The companies, led by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Lorillard Tobacco Co., said the warnings no longer simply convey facts to allow people to make a decision whether to smoke. They instead force them to put government anti-smoking advocacy more prominently on their packs than their own brands, the companies say.
Cheers to health warning labels for alcoholic drinks
The Conversation - Wednesday 17th August 2011
Despite known risks of drinking, health and safety warning labels have been noticeably absent from alcoholic beverages in Australia.
But that might be about to change, with the Government today seeking feedback from consumer groups on the recommendations of the Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy.
The independent review chaired by Dr Neal Blewett released its report – Labelling Logic – on January 28, 2011. It contains 61 recommendations, four of which pertain to warning labels on alcoholic drinks.
Professor of Population Health & Chair of Social Research in Alcohol, Robin Room answers some questions about why we need warning labels on alcoholic beverages and what form they should take.
Cancer Council: Victoria: Wednesday 17th August 2011
Plan packaging of cigarettes is a hot topic right now. With the legislation set to pass through parliament with bipartisan support, we asked our expert panel to address some of the questions being asked about the policy.
Make alcohol health warning labels mandatory, say experts
AER Foundation: Tuesday 16th August 2011
Leading health experts are urging the Federal Government to make new alcohol health warning labels mandatory to help reduce the harms cause by alcohol. The labels, unveiled today by the Alcohol Education & rehabilitation Foundation (AER Foundation) include messages that drinking any alcohol can harm unborn babies, damage young developing brains and increase the risk of cancer.
The call comes as the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council reviews recommendations into alcohol labelling 1 and follows the relapse of the alcohol industry's vaguely-worded, voluntary consumer information labels on alcohol products.
MARIJUANA users have warned people off using Kronic before a state-wide ban on 14 synthetic cannabinoids products comes into effect at midnight tonight.
The State Government became the first in Australia to ban synthetic cannabis last month after adding seven compounds to the list of prohibited substances under the Poisons Act.
But new forms of the product have surfaced, including Kronic Black, which last night claimed the life of a 38-year-old man after he smoked four cones and was rushed to Rockingham Hospital with heart palpitations.
A further five people were admitted to Joondalup Hospital last Friday night suffering high blood pressure and severe heart palpitations.
Queenslandpsychologist and researcher Dr Gavan Palk has noticed the gender gap is closing when it comes to rates of alcohol consumption and after interviewing more than 200 young women so too is the rate of drunken violence.
MARK COLVIN: Australian women are closing the gender gap in an unwanted area.
New research suggests women are catching up with men in the rate of drunken violence.
Dr Gavan Palk is senior lecturer in psychology at the Queensland University of Technology.
After interviews and focus groups with 270 young women, he's told a conference on the Sunshine Coast that the ladette culture is on the rise in Australia.
Dr Palk spoke to Matt Wordsworth. Listen online & access full Transcript
Tasmaniato make Kronic a controlled drug
9 News - Tuesday 2nd August 2011
Tasmaniawill toughen its restrictions on the sale and manufacture of synthetic cannabis, but has stopped short of completely outlawing the drug.
The state government has put the synthetic cannabinoids Kronic on the state's poisons schedule, which restricts where the drug can be sold.
The government has also moved to prohibit the use of precursor chemicals in the manufacture of drugs, which takes into account illicit drugs with altered chemical compositions.
Drug court for children aims to turn young lives around
The Canberra Times - Monday 1st August 2011
The ACT Children's Court is trialling a new drug and alcohol court that will put young offenders through intensive rehabilitation programs to help them stay out of jail.
Magistrates will also become closely involved in the rehabilitation process, meeting the young people every week or fortnight until they complete their programs.
The new Youth Drug and Alcohol Court is the first of its kind in the territory and will begin a two-year trial in September.
Magistrates will be able to refer young offenders to the drug court if they have a demonstrable drug or alcohol problem and plead guilty to charges carrying a prison term, such as aggravated robbery or assault.
Drug and Alcohol Solutions Australia - Friday 29th July 2011
Last month we reported on the concerning rise in the use of synthetic marijuana in the belief that it was "legal" and could not be detected in workplace drug tests. As predicted, the Federal Government has responded with a nationwide ban of such substances. As of June 17 those who sell or supply synthetic cannabis in Western Australia face 25 years in jail or fines of up to $100,000. (SMH June 15 "Kronic a bad trip for the law"). By July 8 most widely-used synthetic cannabis products became prohibited across the nation (ABC News July 7 "Nationwide Kronic ban 'completely ludicrous'").
Police have launched raids in Perth and Karratha to seize suspected synthetic cannabis that may turn out to be completely legal under WA's drug laws.
WA became the first jurisdiction in Australia to try to ban synthetic cannabis when Mental Health Minister Helen Morton last month announced the Government would add seven chemical compounds to the list of prohibited substances under the Poisons Act.
The compounds are found in over-the-counter synthetic cannabis products marketed under brand names including Kronic, Voodoo and Kaos
The Federal Government subsequently banned those seven compounds, plus an eighth, earlier this month.
Effects on chewing wild tobacco during pregnancy: study
The University of Queensland - Friday 28th July 2011
A University of Queensland PhD scholar is examining the health effects of chewing wild tobacco plants by Central Australian Aboriginal women during pregnancy.
According to Angela Ratsch, over 30 percent of Aboriginal women who give birth at Alice Springs Hospital regularly chew wild tobacco or 'pituri', which is found growing across regional and rural areas of Australia.
The chewing of Australian wild tobacco plants by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations is common in the central regions of Australia, where it is chewed in order to extract the nicotine content.
It is also a common practice amongst developing nations and indigenous populations throughout the world, with more women chewing tobacco than smoking it.
A PUSH to ban the supply of alcohol to children and teens will be brought to State Parliament today.
The move, which regards private homes, is aimed at curbing binge-drinking at parties.
Liquor licensing laws in South Australia forbid the supply of alcohol in licensed premises, but not in residences or at private parties.
Changes to the Act, in a Private Member's Bill to be introduced by Liberal backbencher John Gardner, would make the provision of alcohol to minors illegal anywhere without parental consent. The changes would align SA with Queensland, Tasmania, NSW and Victoria.
WA is the country's cannabis capital, with one in seven teenagers and adults using the drug in the past 12 months, according to an extensive national survey.
Only days before the State is due to bring in tough new laws on possessing the drug, results from the 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey show WA's rate of cannabis use - 13.4 per cent - is 30 per cent higher than the national average. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report shows the overall use of illicit drugs in WA is the highest in the country after the Northern Territory, with almost one in five people over the age of 14 using them in the previous 12 months.
The survey found one in 50 Australians had recently used cocaine - 30 per cent higher than the rate three years ago - with women aged in their 20s recording one of the biggest increases.
Young West Australians: The Nation's worst drug users
The Sydney Morning Herald - Wednesday 27th July 2011
Young West Australians are the most likely in the nation to have used illicit drugs in the past 12 months, according to a national drugs and alcohol survey.
The report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare revealed that while some trends were positive, including a reduction of smoking rates and a stabilising of drinking rates, illicit drug use was the worst among the state's youths.
The 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey found that in WA, 39.2 per cent of people aged 18-19 admitted to having used illicit drugs in the past 12 months, significantly higher than the national average of 25.1 per cent for that age group.
We're off the cigarettes but still struggling with alcohol and drugs
The Australian - Wednesday 27th July 2011
WE'VE got the message about smoking, are refusing to change our risky drinking habits with the notable exception of teenagers and pregnant women, and our appetite for illicit drugs has risen in the past three years.
The mixed picture of drinking and drug use is revealed today in the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's National Drug Strategy Household Survey, which shows men are more likely to use legal or illegal drugs than women, except for pharmaceuticals, which are used equally.
The AIHW survey of 26,000 people reveals the proportion of people aged 14 and over smoking daily is 15.1 per cent, down from 16.6 per cent three years ago and 25 per cent in 1993. Of those 12-17, only 3.2 per cent of girls smoke daily and 1.8 per cent of boys
YOUNG women's cocaine consumption has skyrocketed in the past three years - and the drug is most popular among educated, high-earning city dwellers, federal government statistics show.
One in 20 women aged in their 20s used the drug last year, a 60 per cent increase from 2007.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's drug survey, released today, showed that cocaine use overall was most popular in NSW, where 2.9 per cent of residents had used the drug in the past year, followed by Victoria at 2.3 per cent.
The death of Amy Winehouse has once again highlighted the danger of drink and drug addiction. Mitch and Janis Winehouse's battles to cure their daughter of her addiction are shared by thousands of parents up and down the country.
Many parents reading of the death at the weekend of singer Amy Winehouse will have thought to themselves: "What would I do if my son or daughter was an addict?"
Some people, like Tom Methven, know only too well what they would do and whether it would work.
His son, Jason, 29, is an alcoholic.
Mr Methven, from Surrey, said: "When I heard about Amy Winehouse I thought, 'It's finally got her'.
Amy Winehouse: Why is there so little understanding of addiction?
Guardian UK - Sunday 24th July 2011
Thousands like Winehouse die every year, and they are not venerated, or even pitied. We will not educate ourselves about the disease, or reform drug laws that plunge addicts into a shadow-world of criminality and dependence on criminals. Winehouse got away with too much said one copper, after a tape of her using was released. Did she? Did she really? Winehouse walked barefoot through the streets because that is where the drugs were, and even as her bewildered face splatters across the front pages, drug support charities are closing, expendable in this era of thrift.
Study: Nicotine exposure in pregnancy increases baby's heart risk for life
Health News : Examiner - Wednesday 20th July 2011
If you’re pregnant – or trying to conceive – it’s more important than ever not to smoke – and to forgo the use nicotine replacement products in an effort to quit.
In a new study to be published Thursday in the British Journal of Pharmacology, doctors from Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California report that babies who are exposed to nicotine - in any form - during pregnancy, have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease as an adult.
Are drinking guidelines adequate regarding the risk of cancer?
Eurekalert! Public News - Tuesday 19th July 2011
A group of French scientists (from the Unit of Research on Nutritional Epidemiology, French National Institute for Agricultural Research, Bobigny, France; the French Institute for Prevention and Health Education, St. Denis, France; and the French National Cancer Institute) have published a paper in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) on guidelines for drinking and the relation of alcohol to cancer. They conclude that:
Guidelines for sensible drinking are based on the short-term effects of consuming alcohol, such as social and psychological problems or admissions to hospital, and disregard the dose–response relationship between alcohol consumption and cancer risk.
The current guidelines for sensible drinking for the general population are not adequate for the prevention of cancer.
Revised guidelines that are based on complete and up-to-date scientific evidence are needed.
THE success of the alcopops tax in cutting teen drinking could be used as a model to introduce a minimum price on all alcoholic beverages, drug and alcohol experts suggest.
A study of the effects of the three-year-old alcopops tax by an alliance of representatives from the Alcohol Advisory Group, National Drug Research Council and academics has found teenagers are drinking less as a result.
They used the findings to ramp up calls for the federal government to set a minimum price for all alcoholic drinks, arguing that teenagers are not the only ones indulging in excess drinking.
"If a pricing strategy is to be used to reduce the hazardous consumption and harm - and it is clear that price is the most effective and cost-effective measure we can use - a comprehensive approach is preferable," the groups wrote in an article published by the Medical Journal of Australia today.
Binge drinking 'can damage memory skills' in teen girls
BBC News - Saturday 16th July 2011
Teenagers - especially girls - who binge drink could be damaging the part of their brain which controls memory and spatial awareness, say Californian researchers.
Young women's brains are particularly vulnerable to harm from alcohol because they develop earlier than men's.
Tests on 95 adolescents aged 16 to 19 were carried out by researchers at several US universities.
The study is published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
Researchers recruited 27 binge-drinking males and 13 females and gave them neuropsychological tests and "spatial working memory" tests to complete.
Binge-drinking young women were defined as those drinking more than three pints of beer or more than four glasses of wine at one sitting. Binge-drinking men drank four pints of beer or a bottle of wine.
The alcohol industry has had to review its health warnings for pregnant women only days after they were unveiled after a Perth expert on foetal-alcohol syndrome complained about the warnings.
Dr Carol Bower, from the Telethon Child Health Research Institute, and Sydney University's professor of paediatrics and child health Elizabeth Elliott told DrinkWise the voluntary warnings on alcohol and the group's website played down the seriousness of alcohol harm during pregnancy.
They said the advice was ambiguous and misleading, particularly to suggest foetal alcohol syndrome was not a big problem in Australia except for Aboriginal women.
Dr Bower said researchers wanted to send a clear message that women should not drink alcohol when pregnant.
Think before your next drink, and use only as directed on the label
The Sydney Morning Herald - Tuesday 12th July 2011
HEALTH warnings will appear on most beer, wine and spirit products today as a result of a liquor industry decision to take voluntary measures after years of government dithering.
The warnings, aimed at young people, pregnant women and problem drinkers, will be carried by alcohol products representing 80 per cent of the market, including supermarket brands.
The interchangeable warnings are: ''Is your drinking harming yourself or others?'', ''Kids and alcohol don't mix'' and ''It is safest not to drink while pregnant''. A pictogram of a pregnant woman drinking is also available.
The Sydney Morning Herald - Tuesday 12th July 2011
Voluntary health warnings on alcoholic drink bottles don't go far enough, health experts say.
The alcohol industry-funded group DrinkWise on Tuesday launched a range of information labels for drinks, including messages such as 'Kids and alcohol don't mix' and 'It is safest not to drink while pregnant'.
The labels, to be introduced gradually as part of a voluntary scheme, were developed in collaboration with DrinkWise members who represent 80 per cent of alcohol sold in Australia.
The Sydney Morning Herald - Saturday 9th July 2011
THE tobacco industry's multimillion-dollar campaign against the federal government's plain-packaging measures comes amid evidence of a growing distaste worldwide for smoking.
A World Health Organisation report issued yesterday on the ''global tobacco epidemic'' finds that more than half the world's population, or 3.8 billion people, live in countries with at least some form of anti-smoking measure such as health warnings on cigarette packs, cigarette taxes or anti-tobacco media campaigns.
Smokers taking a common medication to help them quit their addictive habit have been warned they face an increased risk of heart problems.
A major review of 14 trials of the drug varenicline, sold as Champix in Australia, found people taking the smoking cessation aid faced a 72 per cent higher risk of serious cardiovascular problems compared to those who try other methods.
The finding follows America's powerful Federal Drugs Administration (FDA) announcing last Thursday that varenicline packets would have to carry warnings about the small, increased risk of heart attack or other heart conditions.
In their review of trials involving more nearly 5000 smokers who took varenicline, researchers from Britain and the US found 52 (1.06 per cent) suffered serious cardiac problems including stroke, heart failure and myocardial infarction.
THE hospital corners on Jason Wing's beds are unlikely to impress a matron. But his Blacktown Dreaming bed of more than 4000 new and used syringes is concerned with weightier issues than neatly folded sheets.
''My main inspiration comes from my own substance abuse,'' Wing said. ''I've had Aboriginal family members who have died from heroin. My main goal is to raise awareness of the issue.''
Part of his People of Substance exhibition at Hazelhurst Gallery in Gymea, Wing's bed of syringes he created in 2009 is a response to the lack of needle vending machines in the Blacktown area.
A SECOND major tobacco company has flagged legal action against the Gillard government over its proposal to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes.
Just days after Phillip Morris launched its action to stop Health Minister Nicola Roxon from introducing legislation to bring in the measures by January 1, British American Tobacco confirmed it might take action if required.
"It appears the Australian government will be involved in numerous legal challenges both domestically and internationally relating to plain packaging," said Scott McIntyre, communications manager for British American Tobacco Australia.
"British American Tobacco Australia has always said that with any attempt to introduce plain packaging, we will defend our intellectual property.
Australiarisks a surge in people overdosing on prescription painkillers unless doctors do more to tackle the nation's growing dependence on Opioids, a drug and alcohol expert says.
Dr Alex Wodak, alcohol and drug service director at Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital, says Australia could follow in the footsteps of the United States where the number of deaths linked to powerful prescription Opioids like oxycodone outstripped those from heroin and cocaine combined.
He said the number of Australians relying on Opioids to help with chronic non-cancer pain such as arthritis and back pain was rising, fuelled by the number of GPs willing to prescribe them for long periods, and a thriving black market.
The Sydney Morning Herald: Lifestyle - Thursday 30th June 2011
They’re young, beautiful and think they’re invincible. On the face of it, today’s teenage girls are no different from those of previous generations. Except, writes Rachel Olding, that they’re sexually promiscuous and binge drinking like never before – and documenting much of it on Facebook
It’s midnight on a Saturday and at King Street Wharf’s Cargo Bar, the night has soured. Sara*, a 17-year-old graduate of an exclusive north shore girls’ school, has been kicked out after tripping over a bar stool and nearly smashing a glass. Her friend Sophie, 18, has stormed out in a boozed-up sulk because the former Knox boy she’s casually sleeping with hasn’t appeared. Laura, 18, the third in this tight-knit circle, is the last one standing. Barely.
In 2007, two mates challenged each other to see who could give up alcohol the longest.
The event they dubbed Dry July has now become a national initiative encouraging Australians to bypass the booze in the name of charity.
Brett Macdonald, co-founder of Dry July, said the following year he and fellow founder Phil Grove pooled their skills and built a website hoping to get 10 friends onboard and raise $3000 for the local hospital.
"Much to our amazement, the first campaign saw more than 1000 participants take part, raising $257,000 for adult cancer patients at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney," Mr Macdonald said.
ELIZABETH JACKSON: It's being called the most sweeping change to smoking warnings in the United States since 1965, when tobacco companies were forced to add the mandatory surgeon general's advice. But from late next year the measures, designed to shock American smokers out of their habit, will be hard to miss. Disturbing photographs very similar to those used in Australia will cover half of cigarette packets on both the front and back.
North America correspondent Jane Cowan reports.
JANE COWAN: They're images familiar to Australian smokers but ones Americans will be confronting for the first time. Graphic photos of a man with his chest sewn up and another man exhaling smoke through a tracheotomy hole in his neck.
KATHLEEN SEBELIUS: Somebody said, when they first saw the warnings, "these are really gross." And they are.
Out to stop the drug babies
The West Australian - Sunday 26th June 2011
American mother of 10 Barbara Harris has been abused, spat on and compared with Adolf Hitler. She has also been cheered, hugged and applauded.
She attracts big-dollar donations from wealthy backers in the US and Britain for a program that offers drug addicts cash to be sterilised or fitted with long-term birth control.
And she's looking for donors in Australia to start her controversial Project Prevention here.
Mrs Harris is a crusader and, like most crusaders, she has a burning anger that drives her campaign.
"It started because my husband and I adopted four drug-exposed infants," she told British television last year.
"Watching them come home and go through withdrawals, seeing how they suffered, it angered me.
"At first it angered me at the birth parents because I thought: how dare they do this?
"And then my anger became at the system that allows them to do that: just drop off a baby at their local hospital yearly and then just walk away with no consequences," Mrs Harris said.
IT IS one of the highest profile campaigns in the country but few are willing to be publicly associated with it.
All the businesses involved with Imperial Tobacco Australia's no nanny state campaign against cigarette plain-packaging have been gagged by strict confidentiality agreements.
The ad is appearing in electronic and print media and even on postcards distributed at retail outlets.
It depicts a fierce-looking nanny saying that she ''makes the rules around here'', before a voice-over implores people to stop the nanny state and contact their member of parliament to express their disapproval of the federal government's legislation on plain-packaging.
Drinkers across Sydney -- and Australia – are preparing to abstain from alcohol for the entire month of July to raise money for cancer patients.
For the fourth year running, Dry July is encouraging people to raise money online by pledging to steer clear of the hard stuff for a month. All the money raised goes to benefit people living with cancer in Australia -- but the organizers aren’t preaching anything other than the cause.
“We’ve always made sure that Dry July isn’t about anti-alcohol, so it’s not about the dangers of binge drinking -- it’s just about the challenge of taking a month off drinking,” says co-founder Phil Grove. “We don’t need to tell people that they might be drinking too much, but we offer a reason for taking a month off.
“It’s unusual that you can raise funds by not doing something -- you don’t have to go for a run, you literally just have to stay off the booze for a month,” he says. “We try to keep the message as light-hearted as possible because the cause is serious enough.”
Coles tackles alcohol problem with a floor price of $8 a bottle
The Sydney Morning Herald - Friday 24th June 2011
EIGHT dollars will become the new cheap wine price in Alice Springs from next month.
After July 1, it will be not be possible to buy a bottle for less than $8 in Coles supermarkets and it will not be possible to buy two-litre casks.
The new regime, designed to ensure alcohol always costs at least $1.14 a standard drink, is an Australian first and beats to the punch the Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, who had asked her Preventive Health Agency to "develop the concept" as part of a nationwide move to combat alcohol abuse.
The managing director of Coles, Ian McLeod, announced the move at a Sydney retail function yesterday, saying he began thinking about the company's practices when contacted by a Lutheran minister in Alice Springs six months ago.
EXPOSURE of a boozy and drug-tolerant culture among police on the Gold Coast has revived arguments for officers to be routinely tested for alcohol and drugs while on duty.
An investigation by Queensland's Crime and Misconduct Commission lifted the lid on how some police on the glitter strip treated themselves with free drinks at nightclubs, used police cars as "blue-light taxis" for drunk workmates and fed criminals confidential police information.
While the wrongdoing was confined to a minority and there was no widespread corruption, CMC chairman Martin Moynihan said the 18-month operation had trained a spotlight on improper police behaviour that had gone unchecked.
The agency questioned the "reactive" approach of the police service to drug and alcohol abuse, where officers were expected to self-report or have a colleague blow the whistle.
The rise of headline-grabbing Kronic, the so-called legal weed banned last Friday, had its origins in legitimate medical research, authorities say.
Researchers were investigating the alleged benefits of the active ingredients in organic cannabis including delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which had been associated with relieving nausea symptoms in cancer patients, glaucoma and high blood pressure.
Their aim was to develop forms of the drug that delivered the benefits of THC without the associated side effects.
However, the synthetic cannabinoids they developed are now being used to manufacture drugs such as Kronic and they still have worrying side effects.
Last week WA followed the lead of 16 other countries in banning the substances which are believed to be five to 10 times stronger than THC.
CHILDREN whose mothers smoke while pregnant face a greater risk of a heart attack or stroke when they grow up, new research shows.
The children were found to have lower levels of a type of cholesterol which protects against heart disease, compared to youngsters born to mums who did not smoke.
The University of Sydney's Scandrett professor of cardiology David Celermajer, who led the research, estimated that children born to smokers faced a 10-to-15 per cent higher risk of developing coronary disease in adulthood.
"Our results suggest maternal smoking "imprints" an unhealthy set of characteristics on children while they are developing in the womb, which may well predispose them to later heart attack and stroke," he said.
The proportion of older Australians being treated for heroin addiction is growing
The Australian - Wednesday 22nd June 2011
THE number of Australians receiving treatment for dependence on Opioids such as heroin is on the rise and the proportion of older clients is also increasing, according an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report.
The report found that on a snapshot day in 2010 there were over 46,000 clients who received pharmacotherapy for Opioids dependence.
"There was a rise of just over 2,600 clients between 2009 and 2010 which is consistent with the growth of pharmacotherapy treatment we have seen in recent years,'' said Amber Jefferson of the AIHW's Drug Surveys and Services Unit.
"Since 2006, there has been a shift towards older clients receiving treatment, with the proportion of clients aged 30 years and over rising from 72 per cent to 82 per cent and the proportion of clients aged under 30 falling in 2010.''
The Mercury: Tasmania News - Tuesday 21st June 2011
A CHRONIC alcohol habit saw Graeme Alford turn from a successful barrister to a hardened criminal, but he says the day he gave up the drink his life changed for the better.
Mr Alford told last night's Drug Action Week forum at the University of Tasmania that Australia's relationship with alcohol was becoming increasingly dangerous and significant measures needed to be taken to ensure better services for those in need of drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
"I grew up in a culture that celebrated grog -- which is still prevalent in Australia and the West in general," he said.
"I realised I had developed a frame of mind that viewed alcohol as a reward."
He spent his early years drinking at every opportunity -- a lifestyle that would eventually land him prison.
WA Children's Commissioner wants kids to help curb binge drinking
PerthNow - Tuesday 21st June 2011
CHILDREN'S Commissioner Michelle Scott is asking the state's children to help reverse WA's binge drinking culture.
Launching the 2011 Commissioner for a Day Challenge, Ms Scott said she hoped to hear how children, aged 12 to 17, believe authorities should be tackling excessive alcohol consumption.
"There is certainly a culture in our community that says it is okay to drink to excess,'' she said.
"But there is also a growing understanding of the harm that alcohol misuse causes as more evidence comes to hand. It will require a mix of education and regulation across the community to prompt a substantial public health shift.
"We all need to work on changing this culture to avoid future generations inheriting the physical, mental and societal harms that result from excessive drinking.''
First Australian Clinic to exclusively diagnose and treat Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
News Medical - Tuesday 21st June 2011
Australiawill soon have its first screening and diagnostic service for children with alcohol-related birth defects. The service is being set up by The Children's Hospital at Westmead in Sydney amid concerns that thousands of Australian children are suffering from Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). The disorders are triggered in unborn babies exposed to alcohol consumed by their mothers and are the most common, preventable cause of disabilities and brain damage in children.
Health experts say while physical signs of FASD such as smaller skulls are obvious to doctors, many associated neuro-developmental disorders are missed. Elizabeth Elliott, Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health at the Children's Hospital explained that it was hard to know exactly how many children were affected by FASD because of a lack of research and diagnostic clinics. However she estimates that at least two per cent of all Australian babies are born with FASD each year. She added, “That's likely a significant underestimate because doctors aren't recognising it and aren't asking women about alcohol use in pregnancy. There's a lot of perceptions that making a diagnosis will stigmatise children and their families.”
Since the term was coined about 40 years ago, Fetal alcohol syndrome has slowly become recognized as a public health issue. Alice tine October reports from South Africa’s Western Cape province, which has the highest reported rate in the world.
“When I was pregnant with my son I drank a lot – mostly on weekends,” says Marion Williams, a 45-year-old mother who lost two of her five children in childbirth.
Williams lives in one of South Africa’s famous wine-growing areas in the Western Cape. She started drinking as a teenager and was taken out of school, she suspects, to work to buy wine for her parents.
A man who drank six bottles of hand sanitiser while being treated in hospital for alcoholism has sparked calls for the antibacterial gels to be better secured.
Doctors at The Alfred hospital in Melbourne were stunned when they discovered the man had downed six bottles of hand sanitiser, giving him a blood alcohol reading of 0.271 per cent - the equivalent of drinking about 20 stubbies of beer.
Australian illegal drugs among world’s most expensive
The Sydney Morning Herald - Friday 17th June 2011
Yesterday the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement reported that there is an: “extreme difference between Australian and international drug prices. This difference is likely to make Australia an extremely lucrative target for drug smuggling syndicates.”
Using prices from 2007-08 it gave as one example: “the wholesale price for a kilogram of cocaine in Colombia, a source country, is reported to be $US2348. By comparison, the same amount of cocaine had an Australian wholesale price of between $US150,000 to $US250,000. . . . wholesale prices in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada ranged between $US10,000 to approximately $US70,000 per kilogram.”
The West Australian Government has joined the resources sector in recognising the dangers of synthetic cannabis in the workplace.
New legislation becomes active on Friday, June 17. Those in possession of synthetic marijuana products such as Kronic have until then to dispose of or hand them in.
Synthetic cannabinoids will be added to the Poison Act 1964. Fines relating to synthetic marijuana will be the same as those for cannabis. Simple possession of such products will draw up to a $2,000 fine or a two year jail term.
Understanding alcohol's damaging effects on the brain
Eurekalert - Wednesday 15th June 2011
While alcohol has a wide range of pharmacological effects on the body, the brain is a primary target. However, the molecular mechanisms by which alcohol alters neuronal activity in the brain are poorly understood. Participants in a symposium at the June 2010 annual meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism in San Antonio, Texas addressed recent findings concerning the interactions of alcohol with prototype brain proteins thought to underlie alcohol actions in the brain.
Proceedings will be published in the September 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.
"Alcohol is the most common drug in the world, has been used by diverse human communities longer than recorded history, yet our understanding of its effects on the brain is limited when compared to other drugs," said Rebecca J. Howard, a postdoctoral fellow at The University of Texas at Austin Waggoner Center for Alcohol & Addiction Research and corresponding author for this study.
Synthetic cannabis is giving Australian doctors a bad case of the jitters.
Unlike natural weed, no one knows what chemicals drug cooks are putting into the smokeable product being sold as Kronic and various other names. And there lies a great danger, the Australian Medical Association says.
Western Australiaand Tasmania have already moved against the product, which has been available for several years, and state health ministers will consider a national ban when they meet in Canberra next month.
People have four days to dispose of any now-outlawed synthetic cannabis products, with the state government imposing a ban effective Friday.
Mental Health Minister Helen Morton said that after an investigation carried out by the Drug and Alcohol Office, WA Police, the Department of Health and ChemCentre, she believed there was enough evidence to ban synthetic cannabis.
As of Friday, June 17, products such as Kronic, Kalma, Voodoo, Kaos and Mango Kush which are commonly marketed as incense will be deemed an illicit drug, and those found with the drug in their possession can face prosecution.
Police Minister Rob Johnson said people can take products such as Kronic to police stations across the state to ensure they are safely destroyed.
PRISONERS will be banned from smoking in their cells as part of a NSW trial, but guards fear a violent backlash from nicotine-addicted inmates who are locked up for a 16-hour stretch each day.
Inmates at the maximum-security Lithgow jail will be allowed to smoke only in designated outdoor areas during the six-month trial next year.
The Department of Corrective Services says it wants to protect the health of inmates and staff, but the prison officers union and prisoner advocates worry about the anxiety and depression it will cause prisoners locked up from 4pm to 8am.
HEROIN destroys everything. It takes your job and your home. For Cheryl Schalks, it wrecked her previously normal life - another world where she worked as a school teacher and rented a home with her then husband.
Together, they ended up sleeping on the streets and for years experienced periods of homelessness as they continued to feed their addiction.
Things began to change when they became vendors of The Big Issue, a fortnightly magazine sold by some of society's most vulnerable and marginalised people.
The magazine and its sellers have become familiar on Melbourne's streets, cheerfully greeting commuters as they wait at cold tram stops and train stations. Next Sunday, The Big Issue will celebrate its 15th year with a birthday party at Federation Square.
The State Government is on the verge of deciding whether to ban synthetic cannabis after receiving a raft of recommendations from health experts and police.
Mental Health Minister Helen Morton said yesterday the Government was considering the recommendations on over-the-counter cannabis substitute Kronic and other synthetic drugs.
The Government has been investigating the issue for seven weeks and asked the Drug and Alcohol Office to work with the Health Department, the ChemCentre and police to analyse synthetic drugs and their legality.
The review looked at the chemical ingredients of the drugs, international experiences with the substances and the legality of sale and possession.
CHRIS UHLMANN, PRESENTER: The Prime Minister is here in the Northern Territory talking to Aboriginal Australians about how the decisions that she makes affect their lives.
During her visit, Julia Gillard will hear mixed reviews about the four year old Federal intervention that Labour has adopted. Soon I will speak to one high profile critic, Marion Scrymgour, an indigenous politician.
But first to the town of Katherine, where locals say the already huge problems with homelessness and alcohol abuse have been made worse by the intervention.
Governments acting on behalf of society have deemed the production, distribution and consumption of (some!) drugs to be unacceptable and the subject of criminal law. Add to this strong policing and public campaigns to discourage use and we have the "War on Drugs".
Although it is clear that this war has not abolished the drug industry, the drug warriors say it is a justifiable use of public authority and resources because it sends a clear message about the dangers of drug use and acts as a disincentive for involvement in the different parts of the industry. In other words it constrains what might otherwise be an epidemic of drug use and abuse.
Deprive a coffee addict of their morning fix and you will soon hear about it. But give them too much caffeine, and it turns out that they are the one that will start hearing things.
In the latest addition to the saga of research papers published on the bitter, brown elixir, scientists have found that drinking five or more coffees a day is enough to increase an individual's tendency to hallucinate. Caffeine lovers with high-stress lifestyles were most at risk.
The study, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, measured the effect of stress and caffeine on 92 people.
DrinkWise targets teen drinking with 'Under your Influence' Campaign
The Shout - Monday 6th June 2011
DrinkWise Australia has launched its latest campaign in conjunction with The Sports Australia Hall of Fame, encouraging parents of teenagers to be more aware of their position as role models when it comes to alcohol consumption.
The ‘Under Your Influence’ campaign enlists the help of Australia’s leading sporting stars to act as ambassadors and communicate to parents the need to demonstrate responsible drinking behaviours and to engage with children on issues associated with alcohol.
Chair of the DrinkWise Australia board, Trish Worth, said the campaign draws on the successful strategies of Australia’s premier sports people and urges parents to apply them to everyday life.
Users of the cannabis substitute Kronic are going to hospital after suffering adverse reactions including hallucinations, government scientists say.
The State Government's laboratory, ChemCentre, said patients believed to be high after smoking the legal drug were attending hospital with symptoms including bizarre behaviour, mild hallucinations and disorientation.
The centre's forensic toxicologist, Bob Hansson, said Royal Perth Hospital contacted him yesterday requesting him to run tests.
Mr Hansson said doctors thought Kronic was responsible for the symptoms after quizzing patients, but he was uncertain whether other drugs were also involved.
The Sydney Morning Herald - Thursday 2nd June 2011
IT WAS a long time coming - too long - but the federal Coalition is to be congratulated for declaring its support for the introduction of plain packaging of cigarettes in Australia. It appeared that the government would have been able to pass its legislation anyway, with the backing of the cross-benchers and some Liberal MPs who had vowed to follow their consciences and cross the floor of Parliament if their party had resolved to vote against the bill.
But it would have been an unsatisfactory outcome for an important public health advance to be introduced in the face of opposition from the alternative government. Australia's move to implement some of the most stringent anti-smoking laws in the world will now have bipartisan support, and that is as it should be. Full Article
Decriminalising Marijuana 'worth a try'
News.com.au - Thursday 2nd June 2011June 2nd 2011
A GROUP of prominent former world leaders said the so-called war on drugs has "failed" and that decriminalising marijuana may help curb drug-related violence and social ills.
"The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world," the members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy say in a report.
GHB and Ketamine well known in eastern states - Meow meow better known in west
The Financial - Wednesday 1st June 2011
A new Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) report, where 824 police detainees across the nation were interviewed about their knowledge of emerging and less commonly used illicit drugs, shows different patterns of knowledge and drug use across Australia.
The Drug Use Monitoring Australia (DUMA) program asked detainees about knowledge and use of mephedrone (Meow Meow), GHB, ketamine and rohypnol (the date rape drug). The average age of detainees interviewed was 32 years and 82% were male. Full Article
Let's lay a floor under public health
The Sydney Morning Herald - Wednesday 1st June 2011
Within an ill-advised campaign lie the germs of a good idea.
SO, CATE Blanchett is a bad look for an advertising campaign. I can think of a worse one: piles and piles of $100 notes parading themselves as reasons why we should feel warm towards the tobacco companies.
As an exercise in winning us over, the mobile billboards picturing the stacks of money British American Tobacco says it will use to take on the government when it legislates for plain packaging are sad rather than persuasive.
Age no barrier as bowel cancer rises in young people
The Sydney Morning Herald: Lifestyle - Wednesday 1st June 2011
THE incidence of bowel cancer in young people has surged in the past decade, more than doubling in some age categories, but doctors have been unable to explain the increase.
Analysis of data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows bowel cancer in men under 25 increased by more than 160 per cent in the five years to 1996 and the same period a decade later. In women of the same age, the increase was more than 75 per cent.
Mortality in young men is also higher because patients tend to seek help only with late-stage symptoms. The reasons for the rise, however, are not known.
Practise what you preach, Drink website warns parents
May 31st 2011
PARENTS should cut back on drink if they want to prevent their teens from binge drinking.
At the launch of the parenting advice website, Under Your Influence, Olympian Kieren Perkins revealed that he had stopped drinking at home when his oldest daughter reached the age of 13.
"My oldest is 14 in September, and it's interesting: she's much more aware of alcohol and drinking. I wasn't much of a drinker, but now I don't drink at home at all," said Mr Perkins, an ambassador for the website, set up by DrinkWise, an alcohol industry-funded organisation that runs responsible drinking campaigns.
HEALTH campaigners say most Australians support plain packaging for cigarettes, despite efforts by the powerful tobacco industry to mobilise public and political opposition against the Gillard government plan.
With public consultation on the landmark bill due to close next week, a Newspoll survey has revealed 59 per cent of respondents support the proposal, while 24 per cent remain opposed.
Australia's biggest city has had and continues to have its fair share of growing pains and the maturing process still has a long way to go. The City of Sydney's establishment of a website, www.sydneyyoursay.com.au, is a welcome initiative as it gives Sydneysiders and visitors the chance to suggest how the city's night life can be improved
The federal Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, said of plain packaging this week: "The sort of proof they're looking for doesn't exist when this hasn't been introduced around the world."
The federal government admits it has no proof olive-brown cigarette packs will reduce smoking rates.
The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, France and the US Congress have all recently come out in opposition to it.
Abbott should put politics aside and do what he can to help stop a killer habit.
There are issues that should be elevated above politics, and trying to find ways to reduce the killer habit of smoking is one of them. So it is particularly disappointing that Tony Abbott, a former health minister, is dithering on the opposition's attitude to government legislation for the plain packaging of cigarettes.
Tobacco is the only legal consumer product that kills up to half of its consumers when used exactly as the manufacturer intends.
And it kills in prodigious numbers. Nearly 6 million people worldwide die each year from tobacco-related diseases. That's more than the total for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
In the World Health Organisation's Western Pacific Region, where I am Regional Director, we estimate that two people die every minute from a tobacco-related disease. One in three of the cigarettes that are smoked globally are smoked in our region - a disturbing statistic that tells us that governments have to be far more vigorous if they are to turn back this evil scourge.
MANY of Sydney's night owls would prefer to peruse open-air markets, sip latte in bookshops and listen to music outdoors than stumble bleary-eyed out of one of the city's many pubs and clubs, a poll has found.
Respondents in a City of Sydney online poll want more European culture injected into the city's nightlife and alternatives to alcohol.
THERE is no end to alcohol fallout. The fact that police have been out in force is terrific because the violence due to alcohol is escalating in its viciousness, senselessness and is totally unnecessary.
I think we have to really take a hard look at ourselves given the fact that we need police out there to remind us we are actually harming ourselves.
THE celebration of the birthday of Alcoholics Anonymous is a cause for joy and sometimes sad reflection.
Of the millions of lives saved and transformed by this extraordinary organisation, just as many have failed to grasp its simple message and the result has been personal hell and untimely death. Such is the destructive power of alcohol, society's most pernicious drug.
Australian police are struggling under the weight of an alcohol-related epidemic of crime, violence and anti-social behaviour.
At a press conference in Sydney Wednesday morning, the NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione, flanked by State Coroner, Magistrate Mary Jerram told reporters that alcohol was destroying lives across the country and no amount of law enforcement could halt the slide.
It is common with wars to assess our progress from time to time. We’re used to frequent public debate over how Australia’s engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan are going. Yet we hardly ever do this with our longest war, the War on Drugs, which we have been fighting for more than 40 years.
In that time more than 12,000 people have died and more than $144 billion has been spent, by my calculations. (I'll provide explanations of these figures tomorrow.) Just what have we got in return?
Alcohol is like a new outfit for your personality. But sometimes that outfit just makes you look ugly.
Just last weekend I received a colourful mouthful of abuse by a guy in his early-30s while I was hailing a taxi, alone, a single girl waiting for a lift home after a night out with friends.
I'd just asked the cabbie how his night was when my door was yanked open by a bloke who'd had three too many, who growled "get out of the cab you dumb dog!" in between other expletive-riddled sentences to the driver.
Stathi Katsidis lived faster than 99 per cent of Australians. He rode racehorses for a living. He took illegal drugs. He was reckless and self-indulgent. He didn't make it past 31. At lunchtime on October 18 last year, Katsidis and his fiancée began drinking at Brisbane's Hamilton Hotel.
As they lingered, Katsidis began taking drugs. By evening, with friends back at home, he had taken fantasy, and ecstasy, and cocaine, and crystal meth. He had also kept drinking. The binge lasted 12 hours before he passed out on his couch. Katsidis was found dead in the morning
A new report has revealed the use of ecstasy is becoming less popular among Australian drug users.
The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales has found the number of surveyed users nominating ecstasy as their drug of choice last year dropped by 5 per cent since 2009, while weekly use of the drug has almost halved.
A NEW iPhone drinks-counter app is being tested to see if it helps young people reduce their bingeing habits.
''It's something they can use in a nightclub, logging what they drink, where and how much alcohol,'' said Angela White, of the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research, which is developing the app, OnTrack, with the University of Queensland
Snapshot of injection drug use in Australia: Users are getting older, one in five have overdosed and polydrug use is common
May 2nd 2011
Australia's injecting drug users are getting older and nearly one in give have overdoses in the past year, according to a snapshot of illicit drug use in Australia released today.
The 2010 Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) report, released today by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales also found that use of multiple illicit drugs (polydrug use) was high among injecting drug users but the types of drugs varied markedly across states. Methamphetamine and cannabis were the most commonly used drugs alongside heroin.
In the wake of regulatory threats against the makers of alcoholic energy drinks, some are calling for further scrutiny of non-alcoholic energy drinks promoted as mixers for alcohol.
Last year, after the Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission told the four biggest manufacturers of alcoholic energy drinks the caffeine in their beverages was an unsafe additive, and that their marketing might be unfair and deceptive, the companies agreed to reformulate.
ELEANOR HALL: The Cancer Council of Australia has issued a new position statement recommending that people limit their alcohol intake to reduce their risk of developing cancer.
The council says a review of the latest evidence suggests the link between alcohol consumption and cancer is greater than previously thought.
Cancer specialists say it's an important reminder of the potential dangers of drinking alcohol, but they say that quantifying and comparing the risks is fraught with difficulties, as Barbara Miller reports.
CANCER COUNCIL AUSTRALIA has revised dramatically upwards its estimate of alcohol's contribution to new cancer cases and issued its strongest warning yet that people worried by the link should avoid drinking altogether.
New evidence implicating alcohol in the development of bowel and breast cancer meant drinking probably caused about 5.6 per cent of cancers in Australia, or nearly 6500 of the 115,000 cases expected this year, a review by the council found. This was nearly double the 3.1 per cent figure it nominated in its last assessment, in 2008.
Warning over long-term drinking link to common cancers
May 1st 2011
Alcohol consumption causes more than 5000 cases of cancer in Australia each year - more than half of them breast cancer, new figures show.
A Cancer Council analysis reveals the number of cancer cases caused by long-term drinking in Australia is far higher than previously thought, following strong international evidence of its link to a broader range of cancer types.
Council chief executive Professor Ian Olver said: ''Alcohol has always been associated with less common malignancies like liver and - in conjunction with smoking - head and neck.
Lifestyle-related diseases stemming from tobacco, alcohol and obesity, have taken over infectious diseases such as HIV and malaria to become the greatest killer of people worldwide.
Director-General of the World Health Organisation Margaret Chan yesterday released a report that showed non-communicable illnesses including cancer, diabetes and heart disease had contributed to 36.1 million deaths in 2008 - nearly two thirds of the 57 million deaths around the globe that year.
Youth organizations in Australia have urged the government to take strong measures against alcohol problems, as figures show an increase in alcohol abuse among youths.
Youth and health advocates have expressed concern that cheap and accessible alcohol encourages drinking among young people in Australia, calling for a series of preventive measures, including increasing the tax on alcohol and limiting the opening hours of alcohol stores, a Press TV correspondent reported on Sunday.
Korea's tobacco farmers are planning to hold a rally protesting the Australian government's moves to reduce the country's cigarette market.
The farmers claim the action limits Korean exports unfairly as the countries discuss a free trade agreement. The Korea Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association, KTGCA, demanded yesterday that Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who will be arriving today to discuss a possible free trade agreement, withdraw proposed plain packaging regulations.
ICC Says Proposed Australian Plain Packaging Regulation ‘Bad Public Policy’
The FINANCIAL -- The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) on April 21 called on the Australian government to reject proposed regulations requiring tobacco product packaging to be stripped of trademarks and product designs differentiating one brand from another.
Responding to the release of draft legislation requiring tobacco products to be sold in “plain packaging”, ICC Secretary General Jean-Guy Carrier said, in a letter to Australian Trade Minister Craig Emerson, that the proposal creates a dangerous precedent that could have far-reaching impacts on the use of trademarks and other intellectual property in Australia and globally, according to the ICC.
Ecstasy may soon take over cannabis as the most commonly consumed drug in the state, unreleased research is expected to reveal.
The University of Queensland's Alcohol and Drug Research Education Centre has recently completed research into illicit drug use that shows cannabis consumption has continued to decline across the state, while ecstasy use is on the rise.
Although the findings have not been released, centre director Jake Najman said data uncovered by the study revealed ecstasy had come close to overtaking marijuana as the most commonly used drug across all demographics.
Alcohol misuse takes heavy toll on family and friends
Tuesday, 12 April 2011 Turning Point
While the challenges faced by people with alcohol problems are well documented, new research by Eastern Health’s Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre has revealed family and friends can also pay a heavy price.
In a paper to be presented at the Keith Bruun Society’s 37th Annual Alcohol Epidemiology Symposium which starts in Melbourne today, researcher Morgan Schlotterlein says individuals’ drinking habits can affect all areas of other people’s lives - emotionally, physically, mentally and socially.
Australian first study on alcohol and energy drinks
Tuesday, 12 April 2011 Turning Point
Researchers will venture inside licensed venues around Australia to observe the patterns and behaviour of people who consume alcoholic energy drinks as part of a new study into the drinks’ potentially harmful effects.
Eastern Health’s Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre will lead the study, which is the first to be conducted in Australia, with previous research focused on consumers in Europe and the United States.
THEY are young, fit professionals in their physical prime - hardly the typical candidates for cardiovascular disease.
Yet they are increasingly turning up in hospitals suffering heart attacks or strokes. Medical staff say cocaine is to blame.
The latest figures from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research show that use and possession of cocaine rose 45.4 per cent between September 2008 and September 2010. There has been a similar increase in the number of young people suffering ''coke strokes'' and heart attacks induced by the drug have shown a similar increase in accident and emergency departments.
DESPITE the mountains of information warning us of the dangers of smoking, young Australians are lighting up in droves.
They're not old enough to legally buy a pack of cigarettes but almost 60,000 Australian children aged 15-17 are regular smokers.
Although smoking rates have declined over recent decades, young people were the most likely to have increased the amount they smoked in the past year, a new report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has found.
Five per cent of children aged 12-15 smoke according to another study, the Australian Secondary Schools Alcohol and Drugs Survey, and experts say the number of young people still taking up the deadly habit means a lot more needs to be done
Australiaunveils ugly cigarette packets in fight against smoking
International - Friday 8th April 2011, The telegraph UK
Tobacco companies will be forced to drop logos and branding from cigarette packs in Australia in an attempt to make smoking less glamorous.
As part of the toughest antismoking legislation in the world, which is expected to go before parliament later this year, all packets would be the same colour – an ugly olive green – and will come plastered with graphic health warnings including pictures of diseased eyes, rotting teeth and young children in hospital.
The product's name would appear on the front of the pack in a standard font size and style.
MS Roxon should deliver plain talking, not plain packaging.
Smoking rates in Australia have been falling for decades, without Health Minister Nicola Roxon's latest proposal for even more hideous cigarette packaging. In 1945, almost three-quarters of Australian men smoked. At the last count, the proportion of Australians aged 14 and over who smoked had fallen from 30.5 per cent in 1988 to 16.6 per cent.
"'Necessary Evil' hopes to be a weekly interview web-show that offers an alternative to the commercial media's portrayal of illicit drugs and the people who use them. It aims to do this in a respectful, authentic, accurate and sincere manner, being sure to shrug its shoulders when something is not known at whatever point in time.
Young Facebook, MySpace and Twitter users will be targeted with a new wave of anti-smoking messages as part of a program to stop teenagers taking up the habit.
New research on mass media intervention for the prevention of smoking among young people found existing media techniques, including billboards and television and radio advertising, were still trapped in communications strategies dating back to the 1980s.
Calls for alcohol labelling to help stamp out drinking during pregnancy
29th March 2011
THE high risk of foetal alcohol syndrome to the babies of drinking mothers has spurred a bipartisan group of federal MPs to call for the introduction of health warnings on liquor products.
The Liberal MP Sharman Stone says the federal government finds it easy to plough money into anti-smoking campaigns but has failed to force warnings on alcohol to alert women to the risk of birth defects and learning and behaviour disorders afflicting babies of mothers who drank during pregnancy.
Huge liquor barns fly under the radar in the alcohol debate
25th March 2011
The sale of bulk liquor at cheap prices and with no safeguards is not in the community's interest
It is indicative that while the debate rages on about the responsible service of alcohol the issue of the responsible consumption of alcohol is ignored. Yesterday's report detailing attempts by Coles and Woolworths to underprice beer to lure people into their liquor traders is disturbing to say the least.
Tobacco products will be banned from being advertised on the internet, under draft laws passed in the lower house.
The legislation will bring online and mobile phone tobacco advertising in line with restrictions already in place in other media, as well as points of sale.
The coalition has supported the government bill, but came under attack by Labour during the course of the debate for continuing to accept political donations from tobacco companies.
Health Minister Nicola Roxon says the passage of the legislation is an important step towards reducing smoking rates, but more has to be done in the area of tobacco control.
The laws won't ban tobacco sales on the internet so as not to disadvantage rural and regional dwellers when they buy groceries online.
The bill will now go to the Senate.
Blitz to dry up booze for kids
21st March 2011
PARENTS are being urged to dob in adults who supply alcohol to their children under tough new laws carrying fines of more than $7000.
Legislation to be introduced to State Parliament this week will make it illegal for adults to provide alcohol to anybody else's children visiting their homes, unless they gain permission from the children's parents.
The new law will close a loophole that has angered parenting groups and drug and alcohol campaigners for a decade.
Cannabis-derived ice cream, cake and beer given OK on health grounds
Wednesday 16th March, 2011
CANNABIS ice cream, cake and beer have been cleared on health grounds by Australia's food watchdog, despite fears the "marijuana munchies" could trigger positive drug tests.
A Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) investigation concluded that industrial hemp contained such low levels of the psychoactive substance delta 9-tetraydrocannabinol (THC) that anyone consuming the food would not feel its effect, The Australian reported.
Australian Greens Want End to Future Fund Owning Tobacco Shares
Wednesday 16th March, 2011
The Australian Greens, who helped Prime Minister Julia Gillard win power, want the government’s Future Fund investment program changed to prevent the holding of tobacco company shares.
The investments are held as Australia introduces some of the toughest anti-smoking laws in the world, including becoming the first nation to ban brand names on tobacco packs. In addition to raising the excise on tobacco by 25 percent last year, the government banned the public display of cigarettes in stores.
Australia, where sales of tobacco products totalled A$10.9 billion in 2009, records about 15,000 deaths a year from related diseases, according to government statistics. Smoking is the largest preventable cause of death, according to the Australian Medical Association.
Study Shows Drug-Addicted Individuals May Have Less Brain Matter
Monday 14th March, 2011
You're probably familiar with the famous 1980s commercial "This Is Your Brain On Drugs," in which a Partnership For Drug Free America compares your brain under the influence to a sizzling egg in a frying pan.
If a new study from the Department of Energy's Brookhaven Natural Laboratory is any indication, the PSA-turned-pop culture phenomenon might not be too far from the truth. Research released this week suggests that people addicted to certain types of drugs might actually have lower density in crucial parts of their brain.
It's hard to give up smoking - so, of course, there are a huge number of iPhone apps that promise to help. Most simply text a series of short and occasionally interactive messages that guide a person through their battle to give up. Some also track the dollars saved and health benefits accrued since quitting. But do any of them really work?
DOCTORS are writing thousands of suspect prescriptions for a pharmaceutical variation of heroin, much of it destined for the black market forcing the federal government to investigate the actions of 50 medical practitioners.
Alcohol experts call for greater control over underage
Australian Drug Foundation 16th February 2011
FEDERAL: The Australian Drug Foundation says parents must be in control of their children’s access to alcohol. But half of Australia’s parents are without support from necessary secondary supply laws, which would make it illegal for any person to provide children with alcohol unless they have parental permission.
Cars That Detect Grog Via Your Hands Being Considered
By David Richards | Wednesday | 02/02/2011
Australian automotive distributors and manufacturers may be forced to offer vehicles for sale with a built in alcohol-detection system after both the US and UK Governments said that they were currently reviewing new technology that prevents a car from starting if alcohol is detected.
Ecstasy users age as use continues into late adulthood
Universityof New South Wales1 February 2011
Australiais seeing an ageing population of ecstasy users who started using ecstasy in their youth and are still using as they reach their 40s, according to a report from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, Research to explain and respond to the ecstasy situation in Australia: A birth cohort analysis of national ecstasy use trends.
NSW CID has just released a new Health Fact Sheet looking at people with Intellectual Disability and Alcohol and Other Drugs. It outlines how to assist a person with intellectual disability access support services, how to find an appropriate service and how to help the service work with a person with Intellectual Disability.
Latest National Teen Drug Usage Statistics Released
Acting Minister for Health and Agein, 18th January 2011
The National Drug Strategy Monograph: Australian secondary school students’ use of tobacco, alcohol, and over-the-counter and illicit substances in 2008, has today been released by the Acting Minister for Health and Ageing, Mark Butler.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 18 January 2011
Beer consumption in Australia has fallen gradually but consistently since the 1960s, while wine and spirits consumption have increased, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
At the start of the 60's, beer made up three quarters (76%) of all pure alcohol consumed, but in recent years this has fallen to under half (44%).
Wine has increased threefold over the same time (12% of all pure alcohol consumed in 1960-61 to 36% in 2008-09) while spirits have nearly doubled (12% to 20%).
In 1960-61 Australians consumed the equivalent of 9.3 litres of pure alcohol per person, climbing to a high of 13.1 litres in 1974-75. Consumption started to fall in the early 80's, hitting a low of 9.8 litres in 1995-96. Since then, it has crept up again to 10.4 litres in 2008-09, which is still a fifth lower than the 1974-75 peak.
In terms of volume, Australia's annual beer consumption increased sharply in the decade after 1944-45, doubling from 77 litres per person to 155 litres in 1954-55. In 2008-09 Australians consumed an average 107 litres of beer. Wine was at its lowest after the war, at only 7 litres per person and has increased to 29 litres in 2008-09.
The role of VET in alcohol & other drugs workforce development
From National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA)
This new NCETA report examines the role of vocational education and training (VET) in addressing the workforce development needs of the alcohol and other drugs sector of the health and community services industries. It pays specific attention to AOD managers' levels of satisfaction with VET training and also addresses the crucial issue of minimum qualifications.