Overdose Awareness Day 2014
ATODA eBulletin - www.atoda.org.au

Overdose Awareness Day 2014

Overdose is a continued, substantial and preventable contributor to death, disability, and injury among people who use drugs and alcohol in the ACT, in Australia and globally.

About Overdose Awareness Day

Held each year on 31 August, Overdose Awareness Day aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death, especially for those mourning the loss of family and friends. It also spreads the message that the tragedy of overdose death is preventable. For more information on the day or to get involved visit overdoseday.com

What is an overdose?

An overdose means having too much of a drug and/or alcohol (or combination of these) for your body to be able to cope with. There are a number of signs and symptoms that show someone has overdosed, and these differ with the type of drug used. For more information visit the Overdose Day website or see the Alcohol and Drug Services' signs of alcohol overdose card.

ACT Annual Remembrance Ceremony: 20 October 2014
Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform (FFDLR)

Each year in spring people are invited to gather to remember those who have lost their lives to illicit drugs at a Remembrance Ceremony organised by Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform (FFDLR) at Weston Park. This Remembrance Ceremony is held in memory of those who have died from the use of illicit drugs and who remain loved as friends and family members.

FFDLR felt that a memorial would help break a silence of prejudice and ignorance that has left many to bear their grief in isolation and shame. Some felt anger at the lack of help and at the pressures to abandon those we loved. There were also strong feelings that the death of most if not all those for whom we mourn should have been avoided. They met their death not so much from any inherent danger of the drugs involved but from policies and practices that shrouded the composition of the drug and forced on many the life of an outcast.

The ceremony is attended by around 100 people each year – family members, friends, and concerned people from the community. Names of those to be remembered are read out. It is a very moving ceremony and appreciated by those who attend. It also helps raise awareness about the need for better drug policies.

Further information will be available soon. Contact Brian or Marion McConnell on mcconnell@ffdlr.org.au or visit www.ffdlr.org.au

ACT Opioid Overdose Prevention and Management Program

Canberra Alliance for Harm Minimisation and Advocacy (CAHMA)
Australia’s first overdose prevention and management program that provides naloxone on prescription to potential overdose victims is being implemented in the ACT.  This important public health program has been driven by the Canberra Alliance for Harm Minimisation and Advocacy (CAHMA) and the multidisciplinary Implementing Expanded Naloxone Availability in the ACT (I-ENAACT) Committee.

The program aims to:
  • Increase effectiveness of interventions in opioid overdose management;
  • Provide comprehensive overdose management training to potential overdose witnesses;
  • Provide Naloxone under prescription to potential overdose victims; and
  • Reduce opioid overdoses through overdose prevention education. 
For more information:  Contact Sione Crawford, Manager, CAHMA on (02) 6279 1670 or SioneC@cahma.org.au or www.cahma.org.au/Naloxone.html

Key Interim Findings - Independent evaluation of the ACT Naloxone Program
World-leading experts Professor Simon Lenton, National Drug Research Institute, Professor Paul Dietze, Burnet Institute, Dr Anna Olsen, Kirby Institute and Mr David McDonald, Social Research & Evaluation, are evaluating the ACT naloxone program. Within the program’s first 18 months of operation, the key interim evaluation findings included:
  • Data from a total of 140 program participants was available for analysis in the interim report.
  • Participants’ overdose identification and response knowledge, particularly their knowledge about naloxone, was higher after the completion of training than before training.
  • All reported overdose reversals (n=23) using program-issued naloxone were successful.
  • Participants displayed a good knowledge of overdose identification and response and were able to administer naloxone in a non-medical setting.
  • Approximately 50% of overdose responders interviewed called an ambulance. The importance of ambulance call-outs in overdose situations needs to be further elaborated on in program training.
  • An additional positive outcome includes the participants’ experience of empowerment.
Read interim evaluation report here.

Report findings confirm ACT Naloxone Program saves lives
"I am very pleased that the interim findings have indicated positive results for the program," the Chief Minister said."Its also great to see similar programs being rolled out in New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria," she concluded.
Read the full media release from Ms Katy Gallagher, ACT Chief Minister and Minister for Health here.

Consultation: Protecting the ‘Good Samaritans’ who administer naloxone
Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT (ATODA)
To mark Overdose Awareness Day, ATODA has developed a draft discussion paper and is seeking stakeholder feedback by 15 September 2014.
The purpose of this paper is to explore potential legal aspects of layperson (or peer) administration of naloxone under the Implementing Expanded Naloxone Availability in the ACT (I-ENAACT) Program, in particular the operation of “Good Samaritan” provisions of the Civil Law (Wrongs) Act 2002 (ACT) (Civil Wrongs Act).
For further information or to provide feedback please contact Carrie Fowlie, Executive Officer, ATODA on carrie@atoda.org.au or (02) 6255 4070. Feedback is due by 15 September 2014.

New WHO Guidelines: HIV & naloxone
The World Health Organization has released the Consolidated guidelines on HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for key populations. We the new recommendation:

‘People likely to witness an opioid overdose should have access to naloxone and be instructed in its use for emergency management of suspected opioid overdose’ (p. xviii).

Pending release: WHO Guidelines on the Management of Opioid Overdose
The World Health Organization is developing guidelines on the management of overdoses due to drugs such as heroin and prescription opioids. They have sought the preferences of people who might be affected by the guidelines, such as people who use opioids, their friends and families, emergency care services and the health care staff who treat opioid opioid overdose are one factor being considered in the development of these guidelines.

This international naloxone website is a place for harm reduction service providers to find the tools and resources they need to get naloxone — the safe, cheap and highly-effective antidote to opioid overdose — into the hands of the people who need it most: drug users, their families, friends, and other laypeople like outreach workers and staff of harm reduction services.

Support Services

In the ACT, police will not be called to a drug overdose unless there is a threat of violence or the caller specifically requests their attendance. For more information see AIVL's factsheet about calling an ambulance.

Canberra and the surrounding region also have a range of support services for all people affected by overdose. Details can be found in the ACT Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Services Directory. Some available services include:
  • Family Drug Support 24 hour support line can also be contacted 24 hours a day on 1300 368 186 or online here
  • Lifeline can also be contacted 24 hours a day on 13 11 14

Contact ATODA:

Phone: (02) 6255 4070
Fax: (02) 6255 4649
Email: info@atoda.org.au
Mail: PO Box 7187,
Watson ACT 2602
Visit: 350 Antill St. Watson

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The Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT (ATODA) is the peak body representing the non-government and government alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD) sector in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). ATODA seeks to promote health through the prevention and reduction of the harms associated with ATOD. 

Views expressed in the ACT ATOD Sector eBulletin do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT. Not all third-party events or information included in the eBulletin are endorsed by the ACT ATOD Sector or the Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT. No responsibility is accepted by the Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT or the editor for the accuracy of information contained in the eBulletin or the consequences of any person relying upon such information. To contact us please email ebulletin@atoda.org.au or call (02) 6255 4070.