How can we measure outcomes focusing on the patient perspective in addiction science? Professor Joanne Neale gives an overview of her work developing Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) to assess health status or health-related quality of life, focusing on the patient perspective. PROMs can be generic (e.g. the SF-36) or condition specific (e.g. the Beck Depression Inventory). They are widely used and accepted across a range of health fields, but less commonly used in the addictions.
In early March 2016, a parliamentary drug summit, convened by the Australian Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy and Law Reform, debated drug policy reform in Australia.
NDARC Professor Alison Ritter, head of the Drug Policy Modelling Program (DPMP), and Nicole Lee, Associate Professor at the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI), Curtin University write about the different options for reform, their possible effects and the views of the Australian public on the issue.
Violence is a major global public health concern and a leading cause of injury, disability, and mortality worldwide. Two salient factors linked to violence perpetration are posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorder (SUD) – conditions that are also likely to co-occur. Dr Emma Barrett writes about her research to develop effective psychological treatments to reduce violence in people with co-occurring PTSD and SUD.
What does smoking pot do to your mental health? Dr Peter Gates, Senior Research Officer at the National Cannabis Information and Prevention Centre (NCPIC) talks about the potential harms of cannabis use for our brain and mental health.
The intersection of drugs and the internet is not a new thing. People have been sharing their thoughts about drugs – the fun aspects, adverse effects, harm reduction messages – for many years. The offering of substances for sale online is also not new. There are many websites that list pharmaceutical drugs for sale without a prescription. What is more recent is the advent of secure and encrypted online (‘darknet’) marketplaces that are only accessible via anonymising software such as The Onion Router (TOR). Amanda Roxburgh gives an overview of the rise and fall of the darknet's largest marketplaces over time.
Opioids make the largest contribution to illicit drug-related death, and overdose is the leading cause. One important issue in terms of response is the time between the last use of heroin and death. Is there time to intervene, or are such deaths so rapid as to make intervention impossible? Professor Shane Darke says there is time to save lives.
In both Australia and England, there have been challenges to established ways of treating people who have problems with drugs. Treatment, it has been claimed, does not do enough to help people ‘recover’ from drug dependence. In both countries, people who run the treatment system have had to respond to this challenge. In England, this has involved ‘absorption’.
Online drug marketplaces on the "dark web" have begun to resemble traditional organised crime, and Australian drug dealers are the most prevalent users of this system per capita than any other nationality, writes SMH reporter Phoebe Moloney.
This feature article on neuroscientist Marc Lewis and his new book discusses his theory that callenges the modern-day concensus on drug dependence as a brain disease, arguing that in "in reality it is a complex cultural, social, psychological and biological phenomenon" as NDARC Professor Alison Ritter describes.