Ms Marion Downey's blog

How the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman was reported

Marion Downey

Moral judgement and bias still abounds in media reporting of drug and alcohol dependence, writes NDARC’s head of communications, Marion Downey.

The death of Oscar winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from a heroin overdose and a “cocktail” of other drugs in February this year attracted frenzied media interest and hundreds of stories in print, television, radio and online.

Curbing a community's drinking: a police sergeant's perspective

Alcohol fuelled fighting.

Last week saw the launch of the findings from the Alcohol Action in Rural Communities (AARC) project at NSW State Parliament House. The project involved 20 NSW towns, half of which implemented community-led interventions designed to minimise alcohol-related problems (violence, crime etc), and 10 of which were ‘controls’ and did not receive any interventions.

“Unfussy” Saturday night binge drinkers consume anything, anywhere and anytime

heavy drinking

Heavy binge drinkers are unfussy when it comes to alcohol type and drink in a wide variety of locations, according to new research by NDARC’s Drug Policy Modelling Program.

The research has for the first time classified young weekend drinkers into seven distinct drinking types . The results suggest that policies which target specific beverage types or specific drinking locations are unlikely to be as effective as a more broad brush approach which puts alcohol prices up across the board.

Behind the headlines on UNODC’s World Drug Report

United Nations World Drug Report 2012

The UN’s Annual World Drug Report published this week led to the inevitable lurid headlines about Australian’s soaring drug use. “Aussies the biggest recreational drug users in the world” screamed News Limited. Other news outlets focussed more specifically on Australia and New Zealand’s high cannabis use.

Fortunately NDARC’s senior epidemiologist Professor Louisa Degenhardt  took the opportunity to provided a more nuanced perspective in interviews with the ABC’s Richard Glover and with Radio 2GB.

“Practice changing” study shows people with addictions will benefit from PTSD treatment

An estimated 350,000 Australians suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and addictions simultaneously. On treatment programs for substance use the figures are much higher with around 80 -90 per cent having suffered multiple past traumas and close to 50 per cent experiencing active PTSD.

Yet clinicians have been conservative about offering PTSD treatment for clients still using alcohol and other drugs for fear that the gold standard “exposure therapy” will exacerbate substance use issues.

Harm reduction in Australian prisons: too little, too late, too inconsistent

The Canberra Times has today reported on six fresh cases of hepatitis C acquired at the ACT’s Alexander Maconochie Centre jail since December. But will they be the tipping point to finally persuade authorities to do “the right thing” and provide sterile injecting equipment in prisons, asks NDARC’s veteran prisons researcher Professor Kate Dolan?

Cannabis research paper among world's best

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A paper on the Cannabis Withdrawal Scale by researchers from the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC) has been named one of the top 10 addiction articles of the past year.

The scale, developed by NCPIC’s Professor Jan Copeland, Dr David Allsop and Dr Melissa Norberg in collaboration with Professor Alan Budney from the University of Arkansas, helps clinicians monitor the course and severity of cannabis withdrawal symptoms and determine which interventions would help patients quit successfully.