The monthly ACT ATOD Research eBulletin is a concise summary of newly-published research findings and other research activities of particular relevance to ATOD and allied workers in the ACT.
Its contents cover research on demand reduction, harm reduction and supply reduction; prevention, treatment and law enforcement. ATODA's Research eBulletin is a resource for keeping up-to-date with the evidence base underpinning our ATOD policy and practice.
In 2012 researchers, led by Dr Kerry Armstrong, were funded by the NRMA–ACT Road Safety Trust to undertake a study of aspects of the ACT’s roadside drug testing regime. They contracted a commercial organisation to conduct 800 telephone interviews of ACT residents (400 aged 17-29 years and 400 aged 30 years and above) using random digit dialling, obtaining a 56% response rate which is about what one would expect for this type of survey and is similar to the response rate for the
Key findings regarding drug driving behaviour, based on the self-reports of the people interviewed, include the following:
A key focus of the study was on the deterrence effect of roadside drug testing and, in this regard, the findings are fascinating:
‘The classical deterrence theory variables of certainty of apprehension, severity and swiftness of sanctions were not predictive of intentions to drug drive in the future. In contrast, having avoided apprehension and having known of others that have avoided apprehension were predictive of intentions to drug drive in the future (p. 35).’
The authors also drew attention to the policy and practice implications of their findings:
‘Increasing perceptions of the certainty of apprehension, increased testing frequency, and increased awareness of the oral fluid drug screening program could potentially lead to reductions of drug driving and result in safer road environment for all ACT community members (p. 35).’
: Armstrong, K, Watling, CN & Davey, J 2014, Deterrence of drug driving: the impact of the ACT drug driving legislation and detection techniques, Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety – Queensland, Brisbane.
Are consumers setting the Australian drug policy agenda? These and other paradigm challenging questions will be considered at this year's conference.
Alcohol, tobacco and other drug research, policy and practice are continually evolving. Various approaches underpin our understanding of, and responses to, the related harms, and have a direct impact on the choices, information and interventions available for people who use (and are affected by) psychoactive substances. This conference will bring together our sector (researchers, practitioners, policy makers, consumers and families) to discuss real world scenarios and to help us consider their implications. Topics include:
ATODA members: $88.00, Non-ATODA members: $118.00, Consumers and families: Free (limited places – 10% of the registrations are fully subsidised, contact ATODA to access)
This bulletin discusses the prevalence of stimulant overdose (Stim OD) in a sample of EDRS participants, that is, a group of regular (at least monthly) recreational psychostimulant consumers over the past six month period, with a focus on results from the most recent EDRS 2013 survey.
These findings highlight the need to continue harm reduction strategies aimed at minimising risk of stimulant overdose and raising awareness of the risks of ecstasy impurity.
This paper aims to fill this research gap by examining motivations and substance use amongst property and violent offenders in Australia. More specifically, this bulletin: 1) Examines the prevalence of property and violent crime amongst a sample of people who inject drugs, in 2008 & 2013; 2) Determines whether property and violent offenders were under the influence of drugs the last time they committed an offence; and 3) Explores the motivations for committing property and violent offences.
Do young women today drink more alcohol than their mothers did at their age?
A study based at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane compared alcohol use among a generation of young women born in Australia from 1981 to 1983 with that of their mothers at the same age. Alcohol use by over one thousand pregnant mothers aged 18 to 25 years who attended the hospital from 1981 to 1983 was compared with their daughters who were between the same ages when assessed 21 years later. The findings indicated that ‘…daughters were at greater odds of consuming high…and moderate…levels of alcohol than their mothers. Not having a dependent child roughly doubled the odds of all levels of drinking in both cohorts. Undertaking or completing tertiary education had no effect on consumption. There was an interaction between mothers’ or daughters’ drinking and partner status…having a partner doubled the daughters’ odds of consuming high levels of alcohol…while the odds of drinking at the highest level were more than 5 times for mothers who were single’.
The researchers hypothesised that the increase in youth drinking ‘…is a response to liberalization of alcohol regulation, promotion, and the disappearance of more negative social attitudes toward alcohol present in the early 1980s’. They suggest that ‘Not having a dependent child is likely to increase female drinking by increasing opportunities to consume alcohol by lengthening the time spent socializing with friends without parental responsibilities’. They recommend that future research should explore ‘how social changes have altered the gender roles for young women within relationships in ways that allow them to drink much more alcohol than was acceptable in their mothers’ generation’. They note ‘…the likely role of aggressive marketing campaigns by the alcohol industry that have increasingly targeted young women by producing sweeter alcoholic beverages (alcopops) that specifically appeal to women drinkers. These changes have occurred in a social environment in which alcohol regulation has been liberalized and enforcement reduced, allowing readier access to much cheaper alcohol than was available to women in previous generations’.
Alati, R, Betts, KS, Williams, GM, Najman, JM & Hall, WD 2014, ‘Generational increase in young women’s drinking: a prospective analysis of mother-daughter dyads
’, JAMA Psychiatry, online ahead of print
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Are fewer Australian women drinking during pregnancy?
An analysis of data from the National Drug Strategy Household Surveys revealed that ‘…there was a steady decrease in women’s reporting of alcohol consumption from 2001 to 2007: in 2001, 44%, in 2004, 33% and in 2007, 25% of women reported drinking alcohol during the most recent pregnancy. The data for 2010 diverge from this pattern. In 2010, 49% of women reported drinking during pregnancy before they knew they were pregnant, while, by comparison, 20% of women reported drinking during pregnancy after they knew they were pregnant’.
The researchers concluded that ‘…the rate of reported alcohol consumption during pregnancy in Australia is decreasing over time, and this may be more attributable to the year of pregnancy than to the age or birth cohort of the pregnant woman. Despite this, public health advocates need to be aware that the rates of drinking before knowledge of pregnancy are as high as drinking rates during pregnancy were 10 years ago. There is much work to be done in decreasing the rate of consumption before knowledge of pregnancy; also, as the rate of drinking after knowledge of pregnancy gets lower, the rate of decrease is declining. Public health campaigns should not target only those women who know they are pregnant. Rather, we recommend that there should be a campaign addressing the need to be careful of alcohol consumption during child-bearing years, as well as an investigation into the relationship between contraception methods and FASD [Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders]’.
Callinan, S & Ferris, J 2014, ‘Trends in alcohol consumption during pregnancy in Australia, 2001–2010
’, International Journal of Alcohol and Drug Research, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 17-24.
Comment: The Australian Government recently allocated funding to the National Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Action Plan, which includes the ‘Women Want to Know’ Project that encourages health professionals to routinely discuss alcohol and pregnancy with women and to provide advice that is consistent with the National Health and Medical Research Council's Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol. In February 2014 research funding from the Australian Government, through the National Health and Medical Research Council, included a targeted call for FASD.
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What is the effect of substantially reducing the penalties for cannabis possession?
Cannabis possession was depenalised in the United Kingdom in 2004. Researchers analysed the effects of this depenalisation on crime, consumption of cannabis and other drugs as well as other forms of risky behaviour and consumption. They concluded that ‘We exploited differences in the expected punishment for cannabis consumption through the 2004 cannabis declassification in the UK across various age groups. Our results from difference-in-differences estimates do not suggest strong increases in cannabis consumption or indeed crime, risky behaviour or drug consumption more generally in the age groups that benefitted more from the declassification. There is some evidence that cannabis consumption and some forms of property crime increased among 15 to 17 years old. At the same time, however, racially motivated attacks and victimisation risks dropped. Overall, the estimates certainly do not suggest that individuals react very strongly to reductions in penalties associated with cannabis consumption, neither in terms of drug consumption nor in terms of other forms of criminal or risky behaviour’.
Braakmann, N & Jones, S 2014, ‘Cannabis depenalisation, drug consumption and crime—evidence from the 2004 cannabis declassification in the UK
’, Social Science & Medicine, vol. 115, pp. 29-37.
Comment: This study builds on the body of evidence demonstrating that the harshness of penalties for drug offences has little impact on the amount of drug use and its consequences—other than criminal justice system-caused consequences.
What does NIDA say about the adverse health effects of cannabis use, and indications for medicinal cannabis?
NIDA is the US National Institute on Drug Abuse. The article commences ‘In light of the rapidly shifting landscape regarding the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes [in the USA], patients may be more likely to ask physicians about its potential adverse and beneficial effects on health. The popular notion seems to be that marijuana is a harmless pleasure, access to which should not be regulated or considered illegal… Although multiple studies have reported detrimental effects, others have not, and the question of whether marijuana is harmful remains the subject of heated debate. Here we review the current state of the science related to the adverse health effects of the recreational use of marijuana, focusing on those areas for which the evidence is strongest.’ It goes on to give a balanced, well-referenced explication under the headings Adverse Effects, Risk of Addiction, Effect on Brain Development, Possible Role as Gateway Drug, Relation to Mental Illness, Effect on School Performance and Lifetime Achievement, and Risk of Motor-Vehicle Accidents.
Importantly, the article then explicates the ‘Clinical conditions with symptoms that may be relieved by treatment with marijuana or other cannabinoids’, namely glaucoma, nausea, AIDS-associated anorexia and wasting syndrome, chronic pain, inflammation, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. It concludes ‘As policy shifts toward legalization of marijuana, it is reasonable and probably prudent to hypothesize that its use will increase and that, by extension, so will the number of persons for whom there will be negative health consequence’.
Volkow, ND, Baler, RD, Compton, WM & Weiss, SRB 2014, ‘Adverse health effects of marijuana use
’, New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 370, no. 23, pp. 2219-27.
Comment: NIDA is the world’s largest research institute in this field. Its focus is on the bio-medical and bio-neurological aspects of substance use disorders; it promulgates the ‘addiction is a brain disease’ proposition. The first author is NIDA’s Director. Considering its key role in providing the evidence base about the impacts of drugs on the body, it is highly significant that NIDA has both acknowledged the medical indications for medicinal cannabis and has promulgated this information in such a prominent medical journal.
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How much drug use takes place in Australian prisons?
A study of drug supply reduction strategies in Australian prisons focused on adults in full-time custody in 2009. The researchers found that ‘The two main supply reduction strategies identified in all Australian prisons were the use of drug detection dogs and urinalysis programs. Despite an extensive use of drug searches and urinalysis, the detection of drugs was modest for both strategies. The most commonly used drug was cannabis with the detection of drugs such as amphetamines and heroin being very low’. They recommended that ‘…urinalysis comprises targeting testing regimes and that random testing ceases in order to be a more cost effective use of resources for drug detection’. They concluded there were two possible reasons for the relatively low rate of detection: ‘…either drug use was very low in prison or that it was well concealed from the authorities. A comparison of random testing with targeted testing of inmates, where the former yields fewer positive results shows drug use was likely to be low rather than well concealed’.
Dolan, K & Rodas, A 2014, ‘Detection of drugs in Australian prisons: supply reduction strategies
’, International Journal of Prisoner Health, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 111-7.
Which is more effective: prison-based therapeutic community drug treatment or outpatient counselling?
A study undertaken in Pennsylvania, USA, compared the effects of prison-based therapeutic community (TC) drug treatment and outpatient (OP) group counselling, over a three-year follow-up period. The results of the study ‘…failed to demonstrate the predicted superiority of prison TC over less intensive Outpatient counseling, and failed to support…predictions that higher risk inmates would do better in TC’. The researchers stated that ‘Further research is needed to improve our understanding of inmate responsivity to treatment, and to help target individual and programmatic factors that facilitate recovery and desistance from crime. Critical (and heretofore unexamined) interactions between inmate levels of risk, psychosocial characteristics (negative affect), and treatment modality (TC vs. OP) were likely responsible for the unexpected failure of TC to reduce reincarceration compared to an Outpatient group counseling intervention. Prison TC, for example, may be unsuitable for inmates with high levels of negative affect and high levels of risk’.
Welsh, W, Zajac, G & Bucklen, K 2014, ‘For whom does prison-based drug treatment work? Results from a randomized experiment
’, Journal of Experimental Criminology, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 151-77.
How effective are public service announcements designed to reduce smoking?
An American study examined whether antismoking public service announcements (PSAs) on television could increase smoking behaviour immediately following exposure. ‘56 smokers were randomly assigned to watch a short television segment with a commercial break that included either (1) a Philip Morris ‘QuitAssist’ PSA; (2) a Legacy “truth” antismoking PSA; or (3) a control PSA. Smoking behaviour was assessed during a short break immediately following television viewing… Participants who saw the Philip Morris antismoking PSA were significantly more likely to smoke during a break (42%) compared with participants in the control condition (11%), and participants in the ‘truth’ condition were marginally more likely to smoke (33%).’ The researchers concluded that ‘these results suggest that almost any reminder of smoking, tobacco or cigarettes could automatically trigger an immediate desire to smoke among smokers’.
They commented ‘Public health researchers might consider evaluating potential priming effects of anticonsumption campaigns by measuring short-term outcomes immediately following exposure, such as craving, smoking urge and/or actual smoking behaviour. This information would enable cost-benefit analyses of short-term negative versus long-term positive effects, as well as reinforce the need for continued funding of public health campaigns to ensure sufficient reach and duration to achieve long-term objectives. In particular, industry-sponsored messages, such as tobacco company antismoking campaigns that are not associated with improvements in long-term smoking outcomes, should be treated with scepticism and independently evaluated for ironic effects on unhealthy consumption’.
Harris, JL, Pierce, M & Bargh, JA 2014, ‘Priming effect of antismoking PSAs on smoking behaviour: a pilot study
’, Tobacco Control, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 285-90.
Comment: Wikipedia explains that ‘Priming is an implicit memory effect in which exposure to one stimulus influences a response to another stimulus’. This study highlights the dangers of permitting the tobacco industry (and by extension the alcohol industry) to become involved in initiatives that are touted as being preventive. It seems safe to assume that the tobacco industry had already undertaken this type of research and had discovered that their ‘anti-smoking’ ads actually stimulate smoking among viewers.
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How easy is it to obtain chop-chop from tobacconists since the introduction of plain packaging of tobacco?
A study conducted by Cancer Council Victoria assessed the availability of unbranded tobacco (chop-chop) in Melbourne following the introduction of plain packaging legislation. The three-month study involved 54 tobacconists of whom two-thirds indicated they did not know what chop-chop was and a further 15% confused it with roll-your-own tobacco. ‘Retailers offered to sell unbranded tobacco on just five (3%) of 162 occasions…They provided specific information as to where unbranded tobacco could be found on five occasions (3%).’ The researchers concluded that ‘…the availability of unbranded tobacco from tobacconists in Melbourne appears to be low and shows no signs of increasing in the months following the introduction of plain packaging legislation in Australia’.
Scollo, M, Bayly, M & Wakefield, M 2014, ‘Availability of chop-chop in Victorian tobacconists following introduction of plain packaging
’, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, vol. 38, no. 3, pp. 293-4.
Comment: The tobacco industry is promulgating, internationally, much false information about the impacts of Australia’s plain packaging initiative. This study suggests that their claims about it increasing the availability and use of chop-chop are false.
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How effective are text messaging programs in helping people to quit smoking?
A study conducted in the United States evaluated the efficacy of a facilitated text messaging program, Text2Quit
, aimed at smokers searching for quit-smoking information on the internet. The researchers reported ‘The study results are encouraging. Participants who were randomized to receive Text2Quit had a greater likelihood of biochemically confirmed repeated point prevalence abstinence at 6 months post-enrollment, the primary outcome of the study. The biochemically confirmed quit rates—11.1% in the intervention group and 5.0% in the control—are roughly similar to those reported previously in other text messaging studies and to studies of population-based cessation methods like quitline phone counselling’. They concluded that the results from this trial ‘…provide preliminary evidence of the relative efficacy of a facilitated text messaging intervention for smoking cessation…These results provide initial support for the relative efficacy of the Text2Quit program’.
Abroms, LC, Boal, AL, Simmens, SJ, Mendel, JA & Windsor, RA 2014, ‘A randomized trial of Text2Quit, a text messaging program for smoking cessation
’, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, online ahead of print.
Comment: Although Text2Quit is a commercial initiative, the evaluation was undertaken by independent academic researchers from the Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University, Washington, DC. Australian government funded and run text based quit programs are available including www.quitcoach.org.au and www.quitnow.gov.au/internet/quitnow/publishing.nsf/Content/quit-buddy
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What types of non-television advertising are most cost-effective in encouraging people to stop smoking?
A study in Western Australia assessed ‘…the relative cost-effectiveness of various non-television advertising media in encouraging 25–39 year-old male smokers to respond to a cessation-related call to action’. This involved the development of two testimonial advertisements featuring members of the target group for radio, press and online media. ‘Multiple waves of media activity were scheduled over a period of seven weeks, including an initial integrated period that included all three media and subsequent single media phases that were interspersed with a week of no media activity. The resulting Quit website hits, Quitline telephone calls, and registrations to online and telephone counselling services were compared to advertising costs to determine the relative cost-effectiveness of each media in isolation and the integrated approach.’ The findings were that ‘The online-only campaign phase was substantially more cost-effective than the other phases, including the integrated approach’. The researchers concluded that ‘This finding is contrary to the current assumption that the use of a consistent message across multiple media simultaneously is the most cost-effective way of reaching and affecting target audiences...Online advertising may be a highly cost-effective channel for low-budget tobacco control media campaigns’.
Clayforth, C, Pettigrew, S, Mooney, K, Lansdorp-Vogelaar, I, Rosenberg, M & Slevin, T 2014, ‘A cost-effectiveness analysis of online, radio and print tobacco control advertisements targeting 25–39 year-old males
’, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, vol. 38, no. 3, pp. 270-4.
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Do smoke-free bans in work and public places lead to increased smoking in homes and cars?
European researchers evaluated the correlation between the implementation of tobacco control policies, particularly smoke-free bans at work and in public places, and smoking prevalence in private venues in the countries of the European Union. They analysed data of tobacco control activities in European countries in 2007 as compiled using the Tobacco Control Scale
and information on the level of smoking permissiveness in houses and cars from the Special Eurobarometer on Tobacco
conducted in 2009. They found that ‘Current evidence at the ecological and individual levels indicates no increase in the prevalence of smoking in private venues (houses and cars) following the enactment of comprehensive smoke-free legislation, in particular comprehensive smoking bans in work and public places’. They recommended that ‘…promotion of smoke-free houses and cars should be a priority for public health interventions. Such private venues, particularly homes, are the main settings where children are exposed to SHS [second hand smoke] and children are the most vulnerable to the harmful effects of SHS exposure’.
Martínez-Sánchez, JM, Blanch, C, Fu, M, Gallus, S, La Vecchia, C & Fernández, E 2014, ‘Do smoke-free policies in work and public places increase smoking in private venues?
’, Tobacco Control, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 204-7.
Comment: This is good news for people concerned about the possible unintended adverse consequences of public place and workplace smoking bans.
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Is it possible to estimate the proportion of cases of lung cancer legally attributable to smoking?
. The plaintiffs lawyers for a class action suit, which was launched in Quebec on behalf of all patients with lung cancer whose disease was caused by cigarette smoking, asked us to estimate what proportion of lung cancer cases in Quebec, if they hypothetically could be individually evaluated, would satisfy the criterion that it is more likely than not that smoking caused the disease.
. The novel methodology we developed is based on the dose response relationship between smoking and lung cancer, for which we use the pack-years as a measure of smoking, and the distribution of pack-years of smoking among cases.
. We estimated that the amount of smoking required to satisfy the ‘more likely than not’ criterion is between 3 and 11 pack-years. More than 90% of the Quebec cases satisfied even the most conservative of these thresholds.
. More than 90% of cases of lung cancer in Quebec are legally attributable to smoking. The methodology enhances the ability to conduct class action suits against the tobacco industry.
Siemiatycki, J, Karp, I, Sylvestre, M-P & Pintos, J 2014, ‘Estimating the proportion of cases of lung cancer legally attributable to smoking: a novel approach for class actions against the tobacco industry
’, American Journal of Public Health, online ahead of print.
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What evidence is there that community opioid overdose prevention and naloxone distribution programs prevent overdose deaths?
A systematic review of the literature on community opioid overdose prevention and naloxone distribution programs found that ‘The current evidence from nonrandomized studies suggests that bystanders (mostly opioid users) can and will use naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses when properly trained, and that this training can be done successfully through OOPPs [opioid overdose prevention programs]’. The reviewers state that ‘…OOPP participation is associated with overdose reversals, increased knowledge and ability to respond appropriately in an overdose situation, and the ability of nonmedical bystanders to safely administer naloxone. Although participation in OOPPs may not increase EMS [Emergency Medical Services] notiﬁcation, some participants do use other appropriate strategies, including rescue breathing and placing victims in the recovery position. Although naloxone is a life-saving medication, other strategies are essential to prevent the occurrence of an overdose and it is necessary to provide response strategies if a naloxone kit is not readily available and/or there are any problems contacting EMS. Given that OOPPs provide training on overdose risk factors, prospective large-scale longitudinal studies are needed to determine whether participation is associated with a decreased risk of fatal and nonfatal overdose. Testing the effectiveness of training requires a more standardized approach to evaluation, including tools to accurately measure change in knowledge, demonstration of achieved knowledge, and more careful follow-up. Opioid overdose prevention programs have the potential to reduce opioid overdose morbidity and mortality, but their effectiveness is currently unknown. Well-designed studies are needed to evaluate the extent to which OOPPs reduce drug-related morbidity and mortality, examine strategies to implement OOPPs into existing clinical practices, and determine the population-level beneﬁt of OOPPs’.
Clark, AK, Wilder, CM & Winstanley, EL 2014, ‘A systematic review of community opioid overdose prevention and naloxone distribution programs
’, Journal of Addiction Medicine, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 153-63.
Comment: Australia’s first large-scale OOPP incorporating naloxone prescribing is being conducted in the ACT: http://www.atoda.org.au/policy/naloxone/. The report on its evaluation is expected to be published in the first half of 2015.
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Is there an association between illicit drug use, intoxication and involvement with harm and violence in licensed venues at night?
Almost 4,000 night-time patrons of licensed venues in Geelong and Newcastle were interviewed between March 2010 and June 2011 about their consumption of illicit substances, their involvement in a prior violent incident, and their level of intoxication. The researchers found that ‘Self-reported illicit drug use was relatively infrequent (6.2%) when compared to high-risk alcohol consumption and predrinking behavior, contrary to general public perception amongst both abstainers and substance users that illicit drug use is a normal behavior…However, illicit substance users contribute significantly to the burden of harm associated with violence and high level intoxication. ATS [amphetamine-type substance] consumption rates (past 12 months) at the time of interview were almost double the population rate. Unsurprisingly, this rate is highest for people who attend late-trading nightclubs, rather than those who go to bars or pubs. Illicit substance users are entering NEDs [night-time entertainment districts] at a higher level of intoxication compared to other participants and are at an increased risk of having experienced violent or aggressive harm. In particular, findings lend support to the notion of high risk sub-group of stimulant-based substance users. While all illicit drug users were at increased risk of having experienced violence compared to the remainder of the sample, stimulant users were over represented compared to other illicit drugs. This study found a significant difference in the level of risk associated with the use of illicit drugs. While 15.5% of the whole sample reported involvement in aggressive incidents was (sic), the risks increased dramatically to 26.4% for cannabis use; 30.6% for those using methamphetamines; and 42.9% for ecstasy. These findings are comparable to previous research not specific to NED attendees which found that 42% of methamphetamine users had been the victim of violence in the past 12 month…and that cocaine users were four times as likely to have experienced violence within the past 12 months than the general population…’.
Miller, P, Droste, N, Martino, F, Palmer, D, Tindall, J, Gillham, K & Wiggers, J 2014, ‘Illicit drug use and experience of harm in the night-time economy
’, Journal of Substance Use, online head of print.
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Is the use, sale or promotion of alcohol by schools inconsistent with education values and/or ethical principles?
‘In 2011, the Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD) suggested that the use, sale or promotion of alcohol for the purpose of fundraising by schools was not consistent with education values or ethical principles. It argued that fundraising with alcohol offended the “whole school approach to health” as it normalised alcohol for school students and could lead to underage people adopting a positive attitude toward early drinking…Following the initial publicity, on seven occasions between September 2012 and mid-2013, parents confidentially informed the Australian Drug Foundation (ADF) of their opposition to the consumption of alcohol by adults at school functions, particularly when students were present. Schools nominated by those parents included government and Catholic primary schools and Catholic secondary schools in suburban Melbourne and country Victoria’. An article in the current issue of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health discusses this issue. It states that ‘Alcohol is used in Australian schools for three broad and overlapping purposes: to generate revenue; for ritualised or celebratory purposes; and recreational usage...there is no consensus across Australian jurisdictions regarding the use of alcohol within schools’.
The authors conclude that ‘The varied nature of the views of national, state and territory policymakers, and the diversity of opinion among teachers and parents, indicates the promotion and use of alcohol in Australian schools is a divisive one. It is a matter that appears to be growing in public awareness and concern. Yet the extent of drinking at school functions is unknown and further investigation is required to ascertain its purpose, prevalence, impact and outcome’.
Munro, G, Buykx, P, Ward, B, Rae, J & Wiggers, J 2014, ‘Adult drinking in Australian schools’, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, vol. 38, no. 3, pp. 205-8.
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What are the key barriers to and facilitators of the use of evidence by drug policy workers?
‘The gap between research and practice or policy is often described as a problem. To identify new barriers of and facilitators to the use of evidence by policymakers, and assess the state of research in this area, we updated a systematic review…145 new studies were identified, of which over half were published after 2010. Thirteen systematic reviews were included. Compared with the original review, a much wider range of policy topics was found. Although still primarily in the health field, studies were also drawn from criminal justice, traffic policy, drug policy, and partnership working. The most frequently reported barriers to evidence uptake were poor access to good quality relevant research, and lack of timely research output. The most frequently reported facilitators were collaboration between researchers and policymakers, and improved relationships and skills. There is an increasing amount of research into new models of knowledge transfer, and evaluations of interventions such as knowledge brokerage.
‘Timely access to good quality and relevant research evidence, collaborations with policymakers and relationship- and skills-building with policymakers are reported to be the most important factors in influencing the use of evidence…Few studies provide clear definitions of policy, evidence or policymaker. Nor are empirical data about policy processes or implementation of policy widely available. It is therefore difficult to describe the role of evidence and other factors influencing policy. Future research and policy priorities should aim to illuminate these concepts and processes, target the factors identified in this review, and consider new methods of overcoming the barriers described.’
Oliver, K, Innvar, S, Lorenc, T, Woodman, J & Thomas, J 2014, ‘A systematic review of barriers to and facilitators of the use of evidence by policymakers’, BMC Health Services Research, vol. 14, p. 2.
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Australian Association of Smoking Cessation Professionals 2014, E-cigarette information sheet, Australian Association of Smoking Cessation Professionals, Camperdown, NSW, http://aascp.org.au/health-professionals/latest-news/aascp-information-sheet-on-electronic-cigarettes-now-available/.
Britton, J & Bogdanovica, I 2014, Electronic cigarettes: a report commissioned by Public Health England, Public Health England, London, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/electronic-cigarettes-reports-commissioned-by-phe.
European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction 2014, Drug use, impaired driving and traffic accidents, 2nd edn, EMCDDA, Lisbon, http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/insights/2014/drugs-and-driving.
---- 2014, European Drug Report 2014: trends and developments, EMCDDA, Lisbon, http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/edr/trends-developments/2014.
Keleher, H 2014, ‘Opioid prescribing: a public health problem but how should Australia intervene?’, intouch: newsletter of the Public Health Association of Australia Inc., vol. 31, no. 5, pp. 6-7, http://www.phaa.net.au/documents/140527Intouch_JUNE.pdf.
LSE Expert Group on the Economics of Drug Policy 2014, Ending the drug wars: report of the LSE Expert Group on the Economics of Drug Policy, London School of Economics, London, http://www.lse.ac.uk/IDEAS/Projects/IDPP/The-Expert-Group-on-the-Economics-of-Drug-Policy.aspx.
National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Committee 2014, Alcohol and other drug treatment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Australian National Council on Drugs, Canberra, http://nidac.org.au/.
---- 2014, What works: doing it our way. Resolutions from the Third National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Conference, NIDAC, Canberra, http://nidac.org.au/.
NSW Parliamentary Research Service 2014, Medical cannabis, Issues Backgrounder no. 5, Parliament of NSW, Sydney, http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/Prod/parlment/publications.nsf/0/146F34C4932A7E69CA257B190018E495/$File/Medical+cannabis,+Issues+Backgrounder+June+2014.pdf.
Stafford, J & Burns, L 2014, Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS): National Report 2013, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, http://ndarc.med.unsw.edu.au/resource/illicit-drug-reporting-system-idrs-national-report-2013.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 2013, Addressing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series 58, HHS Publication no. (SMA) 13-4803, Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD, large file warning: 5 MB http://store.samhsa.gov/product/TIP-58-Addressing-Fetal-Alcohol-Spectrum-Disorders-FASD-/SMA13-4803?WT.mc_id=EB_20140605_SMA13-480.
Transform Drug Policy Foundation 2014, How to regulate cannabis: a practical guide, updated edition, Transform, [Bristol, UK], http://www.tdpf.org.uk/resources/publications/how-regulate-cannabis-practical-guide.
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2014, 2014 Global Synthetic Drugs Assessment: amphetamine-type stimulants and new psychoactive substances, sales no. E.14.XI.6, UNODC, Vienna, large file warning 5.5 MB http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/frontpage/2014/May/methamphetamine-trafficking-increases-new-psychoactive-substances-flood-markets-according-to-new-unodc-report.html?ref=fs2.
---- 2014, Patterns and trends of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) and other drugs - challenges for Asia and the Pacific 2013, UNODC, Vienna, http://www.unodc.org/southeastasiaandpacific/en/ats-2013.html.
---- 2014, World Drug Report 2014, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, New York, http://www.unodc.org/wdr2014/.
World Health Organization 2014, World Health Statistics 2014, World Health Organization, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2014/world-health-statistics-2014/en/.
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