The Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs

News & Media

Call for papers: Beyond self-reports – ways to obtain more comprehensive insights into substance use events

 dar logo edited

  Beyond self-reports – ways to obtain more comprehensive insights into
  substance use events


Drug and Alcohol Review is planning a special issue on “Beyond self-reports – ways to obtain more comprehensive insights into substance use events”. Emmanuel Kuntsche, Cassandra Wright and Johannes Thrul will act as Guest Editors.

For more than a century, most information on personal substance use has been collected by asking participants to report their behaviour retrospectively in questionnaires [1]. While considered cost-efficient and convenient, this approach largely underestimates substance use in a given population. For example, survey estimates reproduce only 30–70% of the total per capita alcohol consumption compared with sales data [2]. This is primarily attributable to memory deficits, as people tend to remember only part of the amounts consumed and have difficulties calculating standard drink units [3-5]. More precise estimations require methods that record behaviours in or close to real time or match objective data with discrete alcohol or other substance use events. This is also important because environmental features of substance use events, including the user’s location, how many others are present, how noisy the place is, how to get from there to another place or home, become less salient over time and are thus difficult or impossible to recall [6,7]. Macro-level factors such as alcohol outlet density and public transport options are also difficult to capture with self-reported data. Nevertheless, these environmental features are crucial in shaping substance use behaviours and related problems.

Fortunately, the development of sensor technology as well as improvements in administrative data quality and accessibility offer exciting possibilities to overcome the limitations of retrospective recall and potentially provide data with unpreceded precision, both in terms of measuring alcohol consumption (via breath and perspiration samples and sales statistics) and contextual factors (using GPS, smartphone and public surveillance cameras, emergency room data, transportation statistics, etc.). However, these novel possibilities come with challenges relating to analysing and interpreting enormous amounts of data and linking these data to the real-life experiences and (substance use) behaviour of individuals in meaningful ways. They also generate unique privacy and ethical concerns.

In a field in which implementation of sensor technology and large-scale use of administrative data are still in its infancy, this Special Issue aims to bring together contributions that use these kinds of objective data, possibly combined with self-reports, to obtain a more comprehensive picture of substance use events.

If you are interested in submitting a paper for this issue, or have any queries, please contact the Editorial Office – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Papers must follow the author guidelines and word limits. Please note that all papers will need to be entered on Manuscript Central and will be subject to peer review by at least two independent reviewers. When submitting, authors should choose ‘Special issue’ as the manuscript type, and note in the cover letter which special issue/section the paper is intended for.

Authors are asked to submit their papers by the end of May 2020.


  1. Kuntsche E, Labhart F. The future is now – Using personal cell phones to gather data on substance use and related factors. Addiction 2014;109:1052-3.
  2. Ramstedt M. How much alcohol do you buy? A comparison of self-reported alcohol purchases with actual sales. Addiction 2010;105:649-54.
  3. Ekholm O. Influence of the recall period on self-reported alcohol intake. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2004;58:60-3.
  4. Lee PN, Thornton AJ, Forey BA, Hamling JS. Environmental tobacco smoke exposure and risk of stroke in never smokers: An updated review with meta-analysis. J Stroke Cerebrovas Dis 2017;26:204-16.
  5. Ravi D, Ghasemiesfe M, Korenstein D, Cascino T, Keyhani S. Associations between marijuana use and cardiovascular risk factors and outcomes: A systematic review. Ann Intern Med 2018;168:187-94.
  6. Hughes K, Quigg, Z, Eckley L, Bellis M, Jones L, Calafat A, et al. Environmental factors in drinking venues and alcohol-related harm: the evidence base for European intervention. Addiction 2011;106:37‑46.
  7. Kuntsche E, Dietze P, Jenkinson R. Understanding alcohol and other drug use during the event. Drug Alcohol Rev 2014;33:335-7.

APSAD Office will be closed from 25 Dec and will reopen 6 Jan


We thank you for your continued support of APSAD and look forward to working together in the year ahead.


Updated guide to drug interactions with smoking cessation

NSW Health have a range of resources and clinical decision support tools available on their website to support smoking cessation interventions in healthcare settings.  There are currently 10 tools listed on the website. Tool 7 Quick Guide to Drug Interactions with Smoking Cessation provides guidance about dose adjustments to medications when a person starts or stops smoking or changes how much they smoke.  It includes a list of medications that are affected by smoking and cessation, e.g. clozapine, insulin and warfarin and has recently been updated to include methadone. For more information, click on the above link.
To access other tools on the website, click on the following link: Tools for Health Professionals.


National AOD Workforce Survey

National AOD Workforce Survey

It’s been over 10 years since the last National AOD Workforce Survey.

The 2019 Survey being conducted by the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA, Flinders University) is now open.

If you work in the AOD sector or have AOD clients, tell us about your work, wellbeing and professional development needs.

Your input will help inform AOD workforce planning and related workforce development priorities and initiatives. By completing the survey, you also get the chance to win an iPad.

This 15-minute anonymous survey can be accessed at:

The survey is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.


Survey call out


Scholarships for Victorian AOD workers to undertake the Graduate Certificate of Addictive Behaviours in 2020

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Victoria is offering 20 scholarships (worth approximately $9,000 each) to workers within the Victorian Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) sector to undertake two (2) units within the Master of Addictive Behaviours and qualify for a Graduate Certificate in Addictive Behaviours. This course is online, February 2020 to November 2020, and is facilitated by Turning Point in conjunction with Monash University. The scholarships are an opportunity for workers within the Victorian AOD sector to gain access to a specialised AOD qualification at a postgraduate level.


Scholarship Information

The scholarship is valued at approximately $9,000 per person and will be limited to the cost of tuition/course fees only and the applicant will be responsible for the balance which includes student fees, any costs related to computers, late enrolment fees, textbook, student services fees and other incidentals. The expected cost to the applicant is approximately $4,000 to complete the Graduate Certificate of Addictive Behaviours in 2020.

Eligible applicants are requested to submit a curriculum vitae and a 500 word statement of purpose outlining reasons for undertaking the course and why they believe they should be awarded a scholarship.

Expression of Interest

Please complete the Scholarship Expression of Interest form available here and return to Student Administration, Michelle Iannacone via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with a copy of your curriculum vitae and your 500 word statement of purpose.

The closing date for the Scholarship Expression of Interest has been extended to Wednesday 27th November 2019. 

Successful applications will be notified in writing and will be required to complete the admission process into the course via Monash University by Friday 6th December 2019.

For more information about eligibility and to register your Expression of Interest please go to:   


Practitioner views on assessment of drug and alcohol problems (online survey)

 The UQ Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research (CYSAR) is conducting a short survey on Australian health practitioner perspectives on using standardised assessments for drug and alcohol problems, funded by the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). The survey will take only 10-15 mins for the chance to win a $200 Coles-Myer gift card.
Any health professional who has worked with individuals experiencing a drug or alcohol problem is eligible (even comorbid AOD problems). 
Further details of the study can be found at the link: 

Media Release - Professionals strongly oppose Welfare Reform Bill & drug testing trial

Professionals from the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs (APSAD) strongly oppose the Federal Government’s Welfare Reform Bill and drug testing ‘trial’ for welfare recipients.

APSAD continues to strongly oppose the Federal Government’s Welfare Reform Bill and its planned drug testing ‘trial’ for welfare recipients.

President of APSAD Dr Tony Gill, said the ‘trial’ will harm the health of people who use drugs, and waste a great deal of money that could be far better spent on providing voluntary treatment.

“APSAD is the Asia Pacific's leading multidisciplinary organisation for professionals involved in the alcohol and other drug field. APSAD membership includes researchers, counsellors, psychologists, and doctors such as addiction medicine specialists, general practitioners, and psychiatrists,” said Dr Gill, who is APSAD President and has worked as a medical specialist in the alcohol and other drugs field for more than 25 years.

“As professionals who work with people with drug and alcohol-related problems, we are very clear that the drug testing ‘trial’ as currently planned is unworkable for numerous reasons.

  • The ‘trial’ is not supported by any scientific evidence, medical groups have not been consulted and have had no input into it, and it is widely opposed by relevant experts
  • Similar attempts have been found to be costly and/or unworkable in New Zealand, Canada, the USA and UK
  • Drug testing does not tell you in someone has a problem
  • By far the biggestharms from drug and alcohol use in Australia result from alchohol use, and it is not included
  • The ‘trial’ may result in people with significant health problems having reduced, or  in some cases no, access to income
  • The ‘trial’ will further widen the Gap of Health status for First Nations peoples
  • A ‘trial’ cannot be relevant to many parts of the nation as there are many areas, including rural and regional ones, with very few drug and alcohol services as well as  poor access to pathology services
  • Already there are not enough drug and alcohol services available in Australia to provide access to treatment for people who need them. Many people who currently want treatment face long waiting periods. This will be made worse by automatically referring in a whole lot of people who don’t need specialist treatment under the proposed ‘trial’
  • Some APSAD members believe the trial is unethical and may decide to refuse to participate.

“Problematic drug use should be treated as a health problem, not a reason for increasing stigma and reducing access to welfare,” Dr Gill said.

 “The causes of drug problems in individuals are complex. Effective treatment for people with drug problems and support for their families is the right approach, not increasing stigma towards people who use drugs. 

“The Federal Government’s planned ‘trial’ of drug testing for people receiving welfare payments is a bad idea.

“It makes no sense to spend so much money unnecessarily on something that doesn’t work, when we know that treatment services are already chronically underfunded.

“This scheme would either rely on cheap tests that are inaccurate, in order to save money, or spend exorbitant costs on high quality yet still inconclusive testing.

“Furthermore, there is no evidence that it will actually assist people to get back to work,” he said.


For comment or further information, contact Dr Tony Gill through APSAD 02 9252 2281.

Download the media release.


Calling for Late Breaking Abstract Submissions

If you missed the chance to submit your abstract in the first round due to incomplete data, or you have exciting new research, this is your last chance to be included in a fantastic program filled with internationally distinguished speakers and innovative research and clinical practice.

The Late Breaking sessions are informative fast-paced 5-minute presentations. The sessions are dedicated to new information or important findings not fully available before the general abstract deadline. Presentations are five minutes and should have no more than five slides. This session is one of the most popular sessions at the conference.

Late Breaking presentations are held as a single stream, this is an opportunity to present to all conference delegates, and is a popular session at the conference.

Late Breaking Abstract Deadline: 11.59pm (AEST) Sunday 18 August 2019 (NO EXTENSIONS)


Late Breaking Prize

APSAD has a sponsored prize for best Late Breaking Presentation delivered at the Conference. The person judged as preparing and delivering the Best Late Breaking Presentation receives a certificate and a book voucher valued at $100. The award will be announced at the closure of the conference.There will also be a certificate for the runner up and an honourable.

APSAD 2019 Logo Stacked


Engaging Consumers: Tricky or Transformational?





Webinar Recording Now Available. Click on the link to view. 

Engaging consumers: Tricky or transformational?

Develop your skills and understanding of engaging and supporting consumers In this recorded webinar, we delve into the role of language, consumers and research and hear consumers experiences of engagement.

Watch to acquire insights into the significance of lived experience in relation to consumer participation, gain an understanding of the role which language can play regarding access and equity and increase your awareness about the developing role of consumers in research.

Facilitators and presenters

Facilitator: Suzie Hudson

Presenters: Chris, Fiona Poeder, Annie Madden, Maureen Steele

This webinar was brought to you in partnership with the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and Other Drugs and the Network of Alcohol and other Drugs Agencies.


Professor Robert West webinar: Addiction Paper Authoring Tool (PAT)

We are delighted to announce an upcoming webinar with Professor Robert West, Editor-Chief of Addiction. Department of Behavioural Science and Health University College London

When: 16 April 2 pm to 3 pm (AEST)

Addiction Paper Authoring Tool (PAT)

Addiction PAT, aims to assist researchers in writing research reports that contain all the required information, presented clearly and using consistent terminology, and structured in a way that makes it easy to see what was done and why, what was found and what this means. It also stores the key information in a computer readable form making it much easier and quicker to use the paper in systematic reviews and meta-analyses. The first version of Addiction PAT focuses on 2-arm randomised controlled trials but it contains modules that can facilitate writing of any research report. Behind Addiction PAT is the beginnings of an Addiction Ontology, a formal system for representing knowledge in addiction and research methods that is used to provide intelligent prompts for authors and facilitate evidence integration and theory development and use.

The scope of Addiction PAT and the Addiction Ontology includes all addictions including the use of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs as well as behavioural addictions such as gambling.  

Robert will cover examples from the smoking field, including mention of a new E-cigarette Research Ontology that Cancer Research UK has commissioned to help identify gaps in the literature and evaluate research findings using a consistent evaluative framework.


Please click the link to join the webinar:

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Or Telephone:
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
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Australia: +61 8 7150 1149  or +61 2 8015 2088 
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Webinar ID: 574 360 311
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