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Don’t believe the hype, teens are drinking less than they used to

image - Youth Alcohol Square

Ask your friends and colleagues about young Australians and alcohol and I bet they’ll say something about a generation out of control or a binge-drinking epidemic.

The media regularly brings the worst outcomes of young people’s drinking to our attention and points to a problematic drinking culture supposedly unique to young Australians. Little wonder people believe things have never been so bad.

The reality is startlingly different. Data recently released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows alcohol consumption in Australia has reached its lowest point since the early 1960s, having declined steadily since the mid-2000s. Survey data suggests this decline has been driven almost entirely by reductions in youth drinking.

Drugs in Prison: Number of Qld prisoners testing positive doubles as jailed addicts turn to prescription opiate buprenorphine

image - Prison Square

ABC News reports on the rising use of prescription opiates in QLD prisons, with comments by NDARC Director Michael Farrell.

The number of Queensland prisoners testing positive to drugs has doubled in the last year, with a prescription opiate known in prison as "subbies" increasingly becoming the drug of choice.

Experts say Queensland has the nation's worst access to drug treatment programs, and figures obtained by the ABC show desperate prisoners are smuggling in buprenorphine, which, like methadone, is used to treat drug dependence.

Multilateral approach needed to address ice problem

image - Ice2 Square

A recent report released by The Australian Crime Commission highlighted increasing availability of crystal methylamphetamine (ice) and the involvement of serious and organised crime has prompted Prime Minister Tony Abbott to establish an ice taskforce.

The taskforce, to be led by the former Victoria Police chief commissioner Ken Lay, will develop a co-ordinated approach to education, health and law enforcement surrounding ice use.

NDARC Director Michael Farrell has welcomed a multi-lateral approach to the problem. 

Six reasons Australia should pilot ‘pill testing’ party drugs

Professor Alison Ritter

The death of 19-year-old Georgina Bartter at a music festival on the weekend from a suspected ecstasy overdose could possibly have been avoided with a simple harm-minimisation intervention. Pill testing, or drug checking as it’s known in Europe, provides feedback to users on the content of illegal drugs, allowing them to make informed choices.

What regular drug users are taking in 2014 - a podcast

NDARC surveys nearly 2000 drug users every year to gather data on what drugs people are using; on the price, purity and availability of illicit drugs in Australia; on the harms associated with drug use; and to detect any other trends or changes happening in Australia’s illicit drug markets. These surveys are conducted by NDARC’s Drug Trends team, led by Associate Professor Lucy Burns.
 

On The Daily Mail's reporting of cannabis research

Professor Wayne Hall conducts cannabis research

"Cannabis as addictive as heroin" announced the headlines in The Daily Mail (UK) and The Telegraph (UK). The news outlets were reporting on a paper published this week in the journal Addiction which reviews the last 20 years of research into the adverse health effects of recreational cannabis use.

But the headlines were misleading, as author of the paper and NDARC conjoint Professor Wayne Hall explains: