The Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs

News & Media

APSAD Media Release - Doctors strongly oppose Welfare Reform Bill and drug testing trial

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

Chair of the APSAD Medical Special Interest Group, 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.

“Our Group represents addiction medicine specialists, general practitioners, psychiatrists and other doctors in the APSAD membership,” said Dr Gill, who is APSAD Vice President/President-Elect and has worked as a specialist in the alcohol and other drugs field for more than 25 years.

“As medical practitioners who work with patients 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

  • The cost will be considerable, with few, if any, benefits

  • 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 Aboriginal people

  • 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.

 

Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs (APSAD)www.apsad.org.au

The Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugsis the Asia Pacific's leading multidisciplinary organisation for professionals involved in the alcohol and other drug field. APSAD is dedicated to:

  • promoting evidence-based improvements in the treatment and prevention of drug and alcohol-related problems
  • raising awareness about the problems related to the use of alcohol and other drugs
  • promoting best standards in research in the drug and alcohol field
  • providing development and support to professionals working in the drug and alcohol field. 

Submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee’s inquiry into Social Services Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform) Bill 2017

APSAD is closely involved with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), particularly with its Australasian Chapter of Addiction Medicine (AChAM).

APSAD formally supports the RACP’s submission to the Senate inquiry, which strongly opposes the measures contained in schedules 12, 13 and 14 of the Bill and urges they not be pursued. 

www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/WelfareReform/Submissions

 

Call for Late Breaking Abstracts - submission is OPEN

We invite you to submit a Late Breaking Abstract for the APSAD Melbourne 2017 Conference. 


Late-Breaking Abstract Submissions open Monday 17 July The Late Breaking Presentations sessions are lively and informative with fast paced 5-minute presentations. The session is dedicated to new information or important findings not (fully) available before the general abstract deadline. The Late Breakers are held as a standalone session, this is an opportunity to address all conference delegates, and is one of the most popular sessions at the conference.  

 

Late Breaking Abstract Submission Deadline: Sunday 20 August

Please note that the Late Breaking Abstract deadline is NOT an extension of the general abstract submission deadline.

 

For further information about the Late Breaking Session and how to submit visit the conference website

 

APSAD Conference

 

Drug and Alcohol Review Hard Copies - Now Optional

As we move further into the digital era and less people are reading print copies, APSAD is offering members the choice to “opt out” of receiving hard copies of the Drug and Alcohol Review. Members will retain digital access to the journal via the APSAD website for every article published. You can also contact the APSAD Office to request PDF copies on any articles of interest. You can easily opt back into print copies at any time if you realise you’ve made a mistake.

To opt out of receiving hard copies of the journal contact the APSAD office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Wiley are currently working on a Smartphone App for the Drug and Alcohol Review, we are hoping will be available to members in the next few months and we will keep you informed. 

If you are having problems with logging into the Members’ Area of the APSAD website let us know so we can fix this for you. You can call us on (02) 9252 2281 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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New caterogy of membership retired members

New APSAD Membership Category from 1st July
A new membership category for retired members is being introduced in the new financial year providing long-term APSAD members the ideal way to stay in touch with former colleagues and keep up with the latest sector news. This membership category is available to existing members (>5 years continuous membership) who are no longer in paid employment due to retirement.

APSAD Retired Member

  • For long-term APSAD members who have retired / almost retired from practice, but wish to continue their association with APSAD.
  • For members aged 65 years or over, with at least 15 years’ continuous membership in APSAD.
  • Allows continuing active participation in committees if desired.
  • Annual subs take into account the members’ reduced income.
  • Same voting rights and access to services as for the Individual Member category
 

Membership fee changes notice

Membership Fee Changes from 1st July 2017

The APSAD Council after consultation with members at the AGM held on 1st Nov 2016 in Sydney has reviewed membership fees in parallel with budgeting for the 2017-2018 financial year, and from 1st July 2017 will increase Individual Membership dues from $200 to $210 per year from the 1st July 2017 with Concession dues increasing to $163.

Student Membership dues will increase to $105.

Small Institutional Membership dues will increase to $468 and Large Institutions to $914

The Council will continue to review these on an annual basis but aim to keep membership fees affordable and competitive against those of other professional societies.

Individual: $210  
Concession: $163 for those with a gross income < $50k
Student: $105  
Retired: $150  for long term APSAD members (>6yrs continuous membership) who have retired
Small Institution: $468  
Large Institution: $914  
 

APSAD Conference Abstract Mentor Program

Need Assistance with your Abstract for this year's conference? 

The APSAD Conference is running the Abstract Mentor Program with the assistance of our volunteer abstract mentors. The aim of the program is to provide an opportunity for First Peoples (Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori), Community Groups, Consumers, and Early Career Researchers to have their draft abstracts mentored by more experienced authors before submitting their abstract to the conference.

For further information visit the Mentor page on the conference website.

 

 

APSAD 2017 Conference

Save the date: 

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APSAD AWARDS – NOMINATIONS NOW OPEN

APSAD is now calling for nominations for the 2018 APSAD Awards in five categories:

  • Early Career
  • Senior Scientist
  • First Peoples
  • Clinician
  • Mentor

Go to the APSAD Awards page for more information

Nominations close on 3 September 2018

2017 APSAD Award winners resized

 

Clinician's Corner | Drug and Alcohol Review

Clinician's Corner | By Associate Professor Frances Kay-Lambkin

Modifiable health risk behaviours and attitudes towards behaviour change of clients attending community-based substance use treatment services.

People diagnosed with substance use disorders face a wide range of challenges and stigmatisation related to their lifestyle, behaviours and effects of their condition throughout their lives.  In their forthcoming paper in Drug and Alcohol Review, available on Early View, Tremain et al. highlight how health risk behaviours independent of primary substance use, such as tobacco smoking, play a key role in the experience of harm, and contribute to the 23-year life expectancy gap between people diagnosed with substance use disorders and the general population. They then explore the leading health risk behaviours exhibited by a sample of people seeking treatment for substance use disorders.

Tremain et al. show that tobacco use, insufficient fruit and vegetable intake, and insufficient physical activity form a cluster of health risk behaviours that account for the greatest risk of chronic health diseases, both in the general population and in people seeking treatment for substance use disorders.  However, the authors found that these health risk behaviours are reported much more frequently by people diagnosed with substance use disorders, and within this population, young people (aged 18-34 years) are 4.4 times more likely to smoke tobacco than are people in older age groups.

The good news is that tobacco use, physical inactivity, and insufficient fruit and vegetable intake represent health behaviours that are amenable to change.  Further, Tremain et al. found that up to 61% of people engaged in substance use treatment services in New South Wales have already considered modifying these behaviours, and up to 97% thought it acceptable to be provided access to preventive interventions to reduce this health risk. Younger people in the Tremain et al. sample were more interested than other age groups in increasing their fruit and vegetable intake, indicating that a potential strategy for engaging this typically challenging age group in substance use treatment services may be to offer a broader “lifestyle-focussed” intervention.

While more research is needed in this area to determine the most effective strategies for supporting people diagnosed with substance use disorders to address tobacco use, fruit and vegetable intake, and physical activity, Tremain et al. provide a compelling argument for integrating lifestyle-focussed assessment and interventions (including the integration of the many apps and online programs currently available) into substance use treatment services in Australia.

A full copy of this paper is available online.

Tremain D, Freund M, Wolfenden L, Wye P, Bowman J, Dunlop A, Gillham K, Bartlem K, McElwaine K, Gow B, Wiggers J. Modifiable health risk behaviours and attitudes towards behaviour change of clients attending community-based substance use treatment services. Drug Alcohol Rev 2016; Available on Early View.

 

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Join in the conversation on the APSAD Early Career Networking group page on LinkedIn

This week's post to the ECR Networking Group conversation: 

How do you measure Research Impact? Posted by Dr Jason Ferris 

So, many of you may have heard that the wheels of 'impact' are changing again (see here for a refresh http://www.arc.gov.au/research-impact-principles-and-framework).

This issue has begun raising its head here at UQ as we prepare (in advance) for what might be the metrics behind 'measuring the societal benefits from research'. So, I thought it might be interesting what you have done to make 'impact' less about a journal (and its impact factor) and more about change.

I am mindful here of an exemplar by one of our own Caitlin Hughes - Which if I remember correctly lead to a change in 'legal thresholds' associated with serious drug offences. Correct me if I am wrong. Caitlin's research lead to a true change in policy - the gold standard of impact. 

So, what have you done, or what are you thinking of doing as the machinations around impact adjust again?

To join the conversation join us on LinkedIN 

APSAD ECR LinkedIn Group

 

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