In debates about drug use, fun is important

The Conversation, February 8, 2019 6.07am AEDT

Young (and older) people use drugs and alcohol for fun, enjoyment and socialisation. Understanding the social nature of drug use reveals why fun-seeking is so compelling.

When people describe fun, they are often talking about an experience of social connection and belonging. Fun is not insignificant in human lives.

Understanding this might help to make sense of why “just say no” messages are so often ignored.

Media coverage of methamphetamine use in SA “demonising”

InDaily Adelaide, August 1, 2018

The head of South Australia’s drug and alcohol services network says recent reports on the use of methamphetamine in the workplace are misleading and could cause people to turn away from seeking treatment.

 

Intercourse, age of initiation and contraception among adolescents in Ireland

BMC Public Health 2018 18:362 https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-018-5217-z

Abstract

Background

The need to tackle sexual health problems and promote positive sexual health has been acknowledged in Irish health policy. Young people’s sexual behaviour however remains under-researched with limited national data available.

Methods

This study presents the first nationally representative and internationally comparable data on young people’s sexual health behaviours in Ireland. Self-complete questionnaire data were collected from 4494 schoolchildren aged 15–18 years as part of a broader examination of health behaviour and their context. The prevalence of sexual initiation, very early sexual initiation (< 14 years) and non-condom use at last intercourse are reported and used as outcomes in separate multilevel logistic regression models examining associations between sociodemographic characteristics, lifestyle characteristics and young people’s sexual behaviours.

Results

Overall, 25.7% of boys and 21.2% of girls were sexually initiated. Older age was consistently predictive of initiation for both boys and girls, as were alcohol, tobacco and cannabis involvement, living in poorer neighbourhoods and having good communication with friends. Involvement in music and drama was protective. Very early sexual initiation (< 14 years) was reported by 22.8% of sexually initiated boys and 13.4% of sexually initiated girls, and was consistently associated with rural living, cannabis involvement and bullying others for both. Boys’ very early initiation was predicted by alcohol involvement, receiving unhealthy food from parents and taking medication for psychological symptoms, whereas better communication with friends and more experience of negative health symptoms were protective. Girls’ very early initiation was predicted by being bullied and belonging to a non-Traveller community, whereas taking medication for physical symptoms and attending regular health checks was protective. Condom use was reported by 80% of sexually initiated students at last intercourse. Boys’ condom use was associated with older age, higher family affluence, bullying others, more frequent physical activity and health protective behaviours. For girls, condom use was predicted by belonging to a non-Traveller community, healthy food consumption, higher quality of life and being bullied, whereas taking medication for physical and psychological symptoms was associated with non-condom use.

Conclusions

These nationally representative research findings highlight the importance of focusing on young people as a distinct population subgroup with unique influences on their healthsexual health requiring targeted interventions and policy.

 

Consumer feedback sought on proposed patient access pathway for medical cannabis in SA

Health Consumers Alliance of South Australia, 2017

The Department for Health and Ageing is seeking feedback on a proposed patient access pathway for medical cannabis in South Australia. A discussion paper has been released which proposes a patient access pathway including amendments to South Australian controlled substances legislation, to ensure national consistency towards safe and appropriate access to medicinal cannabis.

Interested parties are invited to provide feedback on the proposed pathway and legislative changes by making a written submission to Health.MedicinalCannabisConsultation@sa.gov.au

Download documents:

Feedback closes January 31. 2017

Lives of Substance (new website)

National Drug Research Institute (NDRI), in collaboration with Healthtalk Australia, Monash University and Centre for Social Research in Health (CSRH), 

The Lives of Substance website has two aims. First, it aims to support people who consider themselves to have an alcohol or other drug addiction, dependence or habit, and second, it aims to inform the public by sharing personal stories of these experiences.

The media has long been filled with stories of drug use and addiction, but these stories often rely on stereotypes and offer few clues about the range of people affected by addiction issues, the variety of experiences people have and the many ways they cope and even thrive. Lives of Substance aims to fill in the many gaps in public discussions of addiction, to counter stigmatising misconceptions, and to promote understanding and more effective community responses.

The website is based on a carefully conducted research project that collected detailed life stories of people who consider themselves to have an addiction, dependence or drug habit. These stories were analysed by a team of highly experienced researchers, and key themes were identified. These are presented here using video re-enactments, original audio recordings and written extracts from the interviews.

This website is based on qualitative research conducted in Australia by researchers from Curtin University’s National Drug Research Institute (NDRI), in collaboration with Healthtalk Australia, Monash University and the University of New South Wales’ Centre for Social Research in Health (CSRH).

Access website here 

Key findings from the 2016 IDRS: A survey of people who inject drugs

NDARC/UNSW, 10/10/2016

The Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) monitors emerging trends in the use, price, purity and availability of heroin, methamphetamine (speed powder, base and crystal), cocaine and cannabis. In addition to a survey of people who inject drugs (PWID), the annual data collection also includes a survey of key experts (KE) who are professionals in the field of illicit drugs and the analysis of existing indicator data on drug-related issues. Since 1999, all three components of the IDRS have been conducted annually in every state and territory in Australia.

Key Findings

  • Eight hundred and seventy-seven people who inject drugs (PWID) were interviewed for the 2016 IDRS.
  • Heroin remained the most commonly reported drug of choice for participants (46%) followed by any methamphetamine (29%), with a significant increase in those specifically reporting crystal methamphetamine as their drug of choice (15% in 2015 to 21% 2016).
  • In 2016, similar proportions reported heroin (39%) and methamphetamine (40%) as the drug injected most in the last month. In particular there was a significant increase in crystal as the drug most often injected in the last month (28% in 2015 to 36% in 2016).
  • The proportion of the national sample who reported recent heroin use (56%) remained stable and varied by jurisdiction. In 2016, ‘daily’ heroin use was reported by 41% of the national sample and 17% reported ‘weekly or more’ use. Heroin was reported to be ‘very easy’ to obtain and of ‘low to medium’purity.
  • The trend regarding the increased use of crystal and corresponding decrease in use of speed powder continued with a significant increase in the recent use of crystal (67% in 2015 to 73% in 2016) and significant decrease in speed powder (25% in 2015 to 20% in 2016).
  • A significant increase in the frequency of use of crystal was reported (median of 30 days in 2016 vs. 20 days in 2015). Significantly more participants reported ‘weekly or more’ crystal use (33% in 2015 to 41% in 2016). The frequency of speed and base use remained stable.
  • All forms of methamphetamine were considered ‘very easy’ or ‘easy’ to obtain. All forms were reported to be of ’medium’ to ‘high’purity.
  • Nationally, the recent use of cocaine remained stable (11%) and the frequency of use low. Cocaine was reported as ‘easy’ to obtain and similar proportions of the national sample reporting the purity as ‘low’, ‘medium’or ‘high’.
  • Large  proportions  (73%)  report  recent  use  of  cannabis  on  a medium of 135 days in the last six months. A third (32%) of the sample report daily cannabis use. Hydroponic cannabis dominated the market.
  • Extra-medical use and injection of pharmaceutical preparations continued to occur, with jurisdictional differences in patterns observed. Nationally, the proportions reporting recent use of oxycodone significantly decreased from 25% in 2015 to 21%    in 2016, although use varied by jurisdiction. Nationally, 10% reported recently using fentanyl in 2016.
  • Sharing injection equipment was common with a quarter of the sample having shared injecting equipment (excluding needles). Smaller proportions reported borrowing (7%) or lending (11%) needles. Around one-third of the participants (38%) re-used their own needles in the last month.
  • Nearly half of the national sample (43%) self-reported having had a mental health problem in the last six months with depression the most commonly reported, followed by anxiety. Around one- third (29%) of the national sample reported attending a health professional for their problem.

Download report here