The THS Alcohol and Other Drugs Program

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Overview

The THS Alcohol and Other Drugs Program covers policy, program and service development for prevention, intervention and treatment of drug related problems across the NT. Specific programs have been developed to deal with alcohol (Living with Alcohol Program) and tobacco (Tobacco Action Project).

The aim is to reduce harm caused by drugs to individuals, families and communities, through strategies that:

Harm reduction as a strategy

Harm reduction is about accepting that people do use drugs. There are ways people can make use of drugs safer and lessen the amount of damage caused by drug use to their health, to their families and to society. Some people choose abstinence as a way of reducing harm to their health.

An example of a harm reduction strategy is the needle exchange program for people who inject drugs. The exchange programs provide clean needles and syringes so that people do not have to share injecting equipment. It reduces the chance of people getting Hepatitis C or HIV infection from sharing.

Some examples of harm reduction for alcohol use are:

Alcohol and Other Drugs Program Directorate

The Alcohol and Other Drugs Program Directorate provides major policy advice to the Minister and Government. The Directorate also:

Alcohol and Other Drugs Services

Each urban centre has either a government alcohol and other drug service or a community (non-government) service or both. Central Australian Alcohol and Other Drugs Services (CAAODS) in Alice Springs and the Alcohol and Other Drugs Service (ADS) in Darwin are larger, governmental services that provide the following:

Non-Government Alcohol and Other Drugs Organisations

Non-government organisations have been providing a range of Alcohol and Other Drug services to their communities and addressing drug issues for many years. The NT Government recognises that an effective way to deliver these services is by people who understand the local issues. It is Government policy that treatment and care services are provided by community-based organisations as much as possible. THS supports these organisations with funding, information, training and data management.

point.gif (93 bytes) For a complete listing of NT Services, see the Directory of Alcohol and Other Drugs Services available from THS Alcohol and Other Drugs Program

The Living With Alcohol Program (LWA)

From 1992 to the year 2000, the NT Government has committed money to implement the Living With Alcohol (LWA) Program as a whole of government approach to reduce alcohol related harm. The LWA Program came about because people throughout the Territory made submissions to a special committee of the Legislative Assembly, the Sessional Committee on the Use and Abuse of Alcohol by the Community.

The submissions said that alcohol was causing serious problems for individuals, families and the community. It was estimated to be costing the community more than $150 million a year for such things as hospital admissions, law enforcement, prisons, road traffic accidents, and lost time at work. The NT Government responded by making money available to fund a range of treatment, education, training, research and law enforcement activities.

We owe our children a better society - and to do that we must overcome our biggest problem. Alcohol abuse invades almost every aspect of Territory life, keeping our gaols and hospitals full, destroying lives and innocent families, wasting resources which could be far better utilised elsewhere. It's time to say enough is enough - and mean it.

Marshall Perron, Press Release, 8 November 1991

The primary aim of the LWA Program is to reduce alcohol related harm in the Northern Territory through strategies that encourage people to choose, individually and collectively, to exercise effective controls over their own drinking behaviour.

The LWA program has three main areas of action:

Culture is about learning to live with alcohol. If people are to learn to live with alcohol, there must be a change in both individual behaviour and the alcohol 'culture' of the NT. LWA aims to:

Control is about making regulations and changes in the law and policies that affect the availability, promotion, serving and consumption of alcohol.

Some examples are:

Care is about having interventions, support, treatment and rehabilitation services for people who have alcohol related problems or who are affected by someone else's drinking.

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Aboriginal Living With Alcohol Strategy

The Aboriginal Living With Alcohol team responds to requests from community residents who have identified alcohol as an issue for their community. The team will visit the community to discuss concerns and options for action with community members.

point.gif (93 bytes) See 'Community intervention strategies' in Section 2 of this chapter

Aboriginal Family Violence Strategy

The Aboriginal Family Violence Strategy aims to reduce and stop family violence. The Strategy rests on a partnership among Aboriginal people, government agencies and community based organisations. It promotes a community based approach to family violence. It is based on the philosophy that community residents are best placed to find the solutions that will work for them. They are encouraged to decide what needs to be done and who can do it from within the community. The role of Government is to support and assist communities to define and implement their solutions (Office of Women's Policy 1996).

The THS Tobacco Action Project

In 1995, the NT Government allocated special funding to address tobacco issues. The Tobacco Action Project (TAP) aims to reduce the harm caused by smoking tobacco. A Northern Territory Tobacco Strategic Plan 1995-2000 has been developed to guide how the Government will work with a wide range of individuals, community groups and other Government departments.

TAP is putting its effort into smoking prevention programs for children under 18 years of age and 'Quit Smoking' strategies for current adult smokers and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who smoke. Some of the strategies are:

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