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A doctor shares her insights into the toll of alcohol dependence – and gaps in policy and treatment

As regular readers may know, @WePublicHealth is a new Croakey project testing the use of a rotated curated Twitter account as an experiment in citizen journalism meets public health.

So far @WePublicHealth tweeters have come from diverse backgrounds, and have been extremely generous in sharing their expertise, time and energy with the Twitterverse.

Earlier this month, public health physician Dr Kate Conigrave highlighted some of the gaps in alcohol policy and services.

At this time of the year, media outlets often run trite stories about New Year’s resolutions. Conigrave’s tweets give plenty of ideas for those interested in pursuing some more meaningful stories about reducing the toll of alcohol-related harm, as well as giving a clinician’s insights into the reality of alcohol dependence.

At the bottom of this post is a long list of resources that may be of use/interest for members of the public as well as health professionals.

Introductions…




Highlighting gaps in policy and treatment




Damaging the brain







Treating alcohol dependence



Burning out the Aboriginal health workforce



Treatment challenges













Profits before health







Retrograde policies?


Other research and resources tweeted by Kate Conigrave included:

  • Alcohol wins hands down in terms of hospital beds/dollars. One in five ED presentations are alcohol related.
  • A short summary of alcohol’s effects on body.
  • Effects on memory in young people.
  • This video segment contains a former NSW Health Minister John Della Bosca talking about the influence of alcohol industry over politicians:
  • For those keen for rational policy reform, look at work of NAAA, NAAPA or @FAREAustralia.
  • Even Treasury says we need to tax alcohol by volume of pure alcohol to reduce its huge financial & personal toll.
  • Places like ARBIAS do assessments for alcohol and drug related brain damage. .
  • What can we do for those who are hooked on alcohol? More than in the past e.g. medicines to reduce risk of relapse.
  • Understanding of the neurobiology of alcohol dependence has helped guide medicines development. 
  • In back of this free-download book we listed clinical support services for each state.
  • ADCA has a great listing of help lines.
  • NIDAC has highlighted some of the needs of Aboriginal communities re alcohol.
  • NSW Aboriginal alcohol workers are lucky to have the support of their great network – ADAN. 
  • Also NCETA has shown the huge pressures on Aboriginal alcohol/drug workers.
  • For GPs etc, here’s Australian quick reference guide to treatment of alcohol problems.
  • Practice nurses can be a big help in managing addictions. Drug and Alcohol Nurses Association a great resource.
  • The ‘handycard’ via this link helps you do brief intervention for alcohol -validated approach http://www.sswahs.nsw.gov.au/services/drinkless/ …

Some guidelines for health professionals on mental health and alcohol/drug comorbidities.

You can see why Kate Conigrave mentioned at the end of her week of tweeting for @WePublicHealth that it had been quite an exhausting experience (on top of her already busy schedule). If you are interested in pitching an idea for a week of guest tweeting at WPH, please get in touch.

 

 

 

 

 

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  • 1
    Matthew of Canberra
    Posted January 1, 2014 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Is Kate at all ok with somebody making contact with her about treatment options for dependence? I’m just interested in asking about some good contacts in my area, that’s all

  • 2
    Shaniq'ua Shardonn'ay
    Posted January 1, 2014 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    I say get her in to write an article. The Alcohol problem also needs to be treated in the wider context of the lack of support for patients with mental health problems. I have been in AA for almost 12 years and believe it has many benefits BUT it needs to be the option of choice for people – not the only option available. There are good things about the peer mentoring approach AA takes but it has many problems with ‘more sober’ members actively discouraging any other medical interventions such as the use of any medications or psychiatric help.
    Oh and with regard to pricing, while companies (rather than individuals) are allowed to fund political parties I don’t see this changing much. Maybe in the short term the NGO’s could try NOT funding a political party unless they refuse funding from the alcohol industry.

  • 3
    Matthew of Canberra
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Melissa. Sorry for grouching :-/

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