Understanding how many people inject drugs is critically important for the effective provision of public health and harm reduction services. However, the severe stigma that is often attached to injecting drug use, and illicit nature of this behaviour, means that it is often difficult to have a clear picture of how many people inject drugs in a given nation or region.
There is a lot that Australian governments could learn from New Zealand. I had the pleasure of participating in the New Zealand 2017 Parliamentary Drug Policy Symposium, held on 5-6 July, 2017. The purpose of the Symposium was to bring together community leaders, politicians, experts, practitioners and people with lived experience to discuss a new healthy approach to drug policy and drug laws.
Methamphetamine (usually colloquially referred to as “ice”) is a major public health problem in Australia. When we think of methamphetamine-related death, however, we tend to focus on overdose. This is a very real and valid concern. But the extent of the problem extends far beyond drug toxicity.
An increase in opioid prescribing for chronic pain has led to increased concern regarding opioid dependence. Identification of risk factors associated with the development of dependence in primary care is crucial.
The use of image and performance enhancing drugs – in particular steroids – is a growing area of concern globally. The use of these drugs has traditionally been limited to elite athletes and professional bodybuilders. But now their use is becoming normalised as part of a fitness and beauty regime for people who want to gain muscle, become leaner, and improve their appearance.
Women are catching up to men in rates of alcohol consumption and this has important implications for how we think about our community response to harmful alcohol use.
More than 6000 students from 71 schools recruited in 2014 as 13 and 14 year olds are participating in a unique ongoing study investigating the effectiveness of Internet-Based Prevention for Anxiety, Depression and Substance Use in Young People. The Climate Schools Combined (CSC) Study represents the latest in a collaborative program of work led by Professor Maree Teesson and Dr Nicola Newton aimed at preventing substance use and mental health problems among Australian youth.
It is generally thought that opiate withdrawal is unpleasant but not life-threatening, but death can, and does, occur. The complications of withdrawal are often underestimated and monitored inadequately.
The opioid withdrawal syndrome is often characterised as a flu-like illness, subjectively severe but objectively mild. Signs and symptoms include dysphoria, insomnia, pupillary dilation, piloerection, yawning, muscle aches, lacrimation, rhinorrhea, nausea, fever, sweating, vomiting and diarrhoea.
It’s unquestionable that detention and jail are not good places for teenagers to find themselves, as is the oft-repeated cliché that prevention is better than cure. So why are we increasingly locking up kids instead of finding upstream programs to minimise the number of them who end up in detention?
Worldwide, around 30 million people enter and leave prison each year. Of these people, around 4.5 million have hepatitis C, almost 1 million have HIV and 1.5 million have hepatitis B infections.
In many countries, prisons are underfunded and overcrowded, and injecting drug use is common. Those who enter prison uninfected are at risk of becoming infected, as few countries provide the range of prevention programs required to halt transmission inside.