The Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs

News & Media

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

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


Free AOD webinars for APSAD members

We are pleased to announce an exciting new partnership with the Insight Training and Education Unit in Queensland. APSAD members are now able to access FREE webinars of Insight’s Seminar Series Program.

Insight is a leading provider of alcohol and other drug training, education, information and advice for workers and services across Queensland.  They deliver a free seminar program each semester on a range of AOD related themes and topics. The seminars are delivered on the first Wednesday each month at 10am (AEST).

The first seminar for 2016 kicks off on Wednesday the 2nd March. This semester’s program draws together a diverse range of topics including pain management, Hep-C treatment, emotional regulation and motivational interviewing. This program also has a particular focus on methamphetamine as part of the Queensland Government’s response to ‘ice’.
To access full details please log in the Members' Area and go to the Workshop page on the APSAD website. 

Insight training calander Seminar 1-2016


Drug and Alcohol Review

Clinician's Corner - 

Synthetic cannabinoid withdrawal: A new demand on detoxification services

Between July 2013 and May 2014 the New Zealand Government legalised the sale of 40 synthetic cannabinoids via 156 licensed retail outlets. McFarlane and Christie report on 47 synthetic cannabis presentations at a medical detoxification service in Auckland during this period. This represented 4% of presentations (cf. 1.4% for natural cannabis).

Synthetic cannabis products are marketed as smoke-able herbal mixtures that contain inert vegetable matter infused with various psychoactive chemicals that mimic the effects of natural cannabis. McFarlane and Christie found that patients reporting smoking about five grams of synthetic cannabis per day, and smoked a variety of brands.

Around half of the patients (25 of 47) required medically supervised withdrawal. The most common withdrawal symptoms were agitation, irritability, anxiety and mood swings. Almost half reported nausea and vomiting.

Withdrawal symptoms were managed using diazepam initially (5–25 mg/day) and if this was unsuccessful, quetiapine (with doses ranging from 25 to 475 mg/day, for a mean of 8 days). Both patients and staff reported that quetiapine was more effective than diazepam at alleviating agitation, irritability and anxiety.

The observations of McFarlane and Christie suggest that synthetic cannabis use can bring about a withdrawal syndrome that may place additional demands on medically supervised withdrawal services. They point out that, at present, there is no clear evidence base for a pharmacological treatment of cannabis withdrawal.

To read more visit the full paper on the Wiley Online library.
A complimentary PDF of the article is available to APSAD members by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

†Macfarlane V, Christie G. Synthetic cannabinoid withdrawal: A new demand on detoxification services. Drug and Alcohol Review 2015;34:147-53.  

Clinician Corner January 2015 Update

A recent study by Tung et al raises concerns about a local increase in the incidence of infective endocarditis among people who inject drugs. 

Tung et al. examined recorded cases of endocarditis from a regional hospital in Australia between 2003-2006 and 2009-2013. They found that although the overall incidence of infective endocarditis decreased in the population, the incidence of infective endocarditis related to injecting drug use increased from 0.5 to 0.8 cases per 100,000 person years.

This trend stands in contrast to overall declines in injecting drug use and related cases of infective endocarditis both in Australia and elsewhere. It may reflect a local increase in the injection of drugs or it may reflect an increase in the risk of infective endocarditis among people who inject drugs.

Factors that can increase the risk of infective endocarditis include the injection of talc and other insoluble agents that are contained in pharmaceutical preparations, vasospasm and skin lesions that can occur with stimulant use, and the use of saliva as a drug dilatant. These risk factors may have be exacerbated by a local shift away from injecting heroin to injecting other drugs, such as pharmaceutical opioids, performance enhancing drugs and methamphetamine.

This recent local trend highlights the need to be vigilant for signs of infective endocarditis among people who inject drugs, and to continue to educate people who inject drugs about ways to reduce the risks for infective endocarditis (e.g., using filters, alcohol swabs and sterile dilatants), even in the context of overall declines in injecting drug use and related cases of infective endocarditis.

To read more visit the full paper on Early View.
A complimentary PDF of the article is available to APSAD members by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Tung MKY, Light M, Giri R, Lane S, Appelbe A, Harvey C, Athan E. Evolving epidemiology of injecting drug use-associated infective endocarditis: A regional centre experience. Drug and Alcohol Review 2014  

Keynote Presentation now on YouTube

Keynote presentations from the 2014 APSAD Conference are now available to view on our YouTube channel!

This is a great resource if you missed the opportunity of attending the conference.

Presentations include:

  • Sarah Larney - Harm production and harm reduction in prisons and post release.
  • Glenys Dore - Involuntary Drug and Alcohol Treatment New South Wales Style.
  • Simon Adamson -  Controlled Drinking the Science and the Art.
  • Judith Prochaska - Tobacco Use Treatment Updates for Behavioural Health Populations
  • Kathleen Brady - Stress and Addictions Neurobiologic Interface
Additional keynote presentations from the 2014 Conference will be added to our YouTube channel within the coming weeks.
Don't forgot APSAD Member's can log into the "Member's Area" on our website to view the presentation slides for concurrent sessions from previous APSAD Conferences.


Visit us on YouTube 



Australian National Council on Drugs to be renamed

Australian National Council on Drugs will be renamed as the Australian National Advisory Council on Alcohol and Drugs (ANACAD) which recognises the advisory Council’s focus on alcohol as well as drugs.
“ANACAD’s key role will be to provide advice to the Government on a range of national drug and alcohol issues, including advice on emerging issues and new substances, to ensure the Government is well placed to respond.
Read the Media Release for further details


Clinician Corner - Drug and Alcohol Review Update

Text message reminders improve patient attendance according to a review of the evidence conducted by Joanna Milward and colleagues, now available on Drug and Alcohol Review’s Early View.

Patients who miss their appointments are at risk of poorer outcomes. Missed appointments are costly for services and can result in valuable resources being wasted.

Forgetfulness is one of the most common explanations for missed appointments. Text message appointment reminders are a cost-effective intervention that has been shown to dramatically improve attendance in health-care settings. Text message reminders are often generic but they can be personalised, for example, by including the person’s name. Reminders need to be sent within a week prior to the appointment, with most reminders being sent 1, 2 or 3 days in advance.

The effectiveness of using text message reminders has not been explored in substance use services. However, surveys suggest that the majority of clients have mobile phones and are receptive to communicating via text messages. One potential barrier to communicating via text is the frequency with which some clients change their mobile phone number.

To read more visit the full paper on Early View.
A complimentary PDF of the article is available to APSAD members by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A reminder that APSAD members can view the Drug and Alcohol Review online, dating back to the very first issue, simply by logging into the Member's area on the APSAD Website.

Milward J, Lynskey M, Strang J. Solving the problem of non-attendance in substance abuse services. Drug Alcohol Rev 2014 [Epub ahead of print].




Call for Mentors

APSAD has recently formed an Early Career Researchers (ECR) Committee, which is focused on linking ECRs with senior researchers, and providing networking opportunities. The ECR group is open to APSAD members and currently to non-members.

APSAD is looking for mid or senior-career researchers to join our informal network, and share their experiences and insights with ECRs. Mentoring can be as formal or informal as the mentor and mentee desire. Just by having a sounding board when questions arise; a friendly ear to talk about career options can be invaluable to ECRs starting out in their careers.
To find out more about APSAD and the ECR network, please visit the APSAD website and view our LinkedIn group and join the discussion
Download the form to register your interest in mentoring. Mentors will be listed on the APSAD Website with a link to their biography.
APSAD Conference inaugural ECR Breakfast
We are excited to announce that our first ECR networking event will take place this year at the APSAD Conference. To view the details for this please visit the Conference Website or Click here to register
For further information please contact the APSAD Office Ph: (02) 9252 2281 E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or contact our ECR committee representatives via email Suzanne Nielsen This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Christina Marel This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Drug and Alcohol Review Update

Drug and Alcohol Review a new virtual issue is available on ‘Managing methamphetamine dependence: interventions and beyond’. This virtual issue brings together papers on pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy and community-based interventions for methamphetamine use.

Click here to view on the Wiley Online Library 



The National Drug and Alcohol Services Directory (NDASD)

New Website Directory 

Allows users to run easy and comprehensive searches for Alcohol and Other Drug services anywhere across Australia. The project is a collaboration between the Commonwealth Department of Health, Turning Point and Monash University, and is a really useful resource for anyone looking to link in with an Alcohol or Other Drug treatment service in Australia. This includes individual service users, primary health providers, community and public service providers, GPs and other health professionals.

Visit the NDASD directory