Methamphetamine leads drug rehab admissions

Methamphetamine leads drug rehab admissions for seventh year running
Alcohol remains a significant problem

2018 Odyssey House NSW Annual Report

The devastating human impact of ‘ice’ shows no signs of slowing, with methamphetamine the leading drug problem for the seventh year running  according to a report by Odyssey House NSW, which is one of Australia’s largest alcohol and other drug treatment services and helps people from around the country.

Released today, the 2018 Odyssey House NSW Annual Report shows a record 54 per cent of residential rehabilitation clients in the 2017-18 financial year named methamphetamine-type drugs (e.g. ‘ice’ or crystal meth, speed, base) as their principal drug of concern[i]. This is up 10.2 per cent on 2017 admissions (49% of clients) and up 80 per cent on 2012 (30% of clients), when methamphetamine replaced alcohol at the number one position.

Odyssey House NSW CEO Julie Babineau[ii] said methamphetamine was also the main concern for 36 per cent of people undertaking treatment at Odyssey House’s eleven new community services. These facilities opened across Sydney in 2017 to provide free non-residential counselling and support to individuals and their families impacted by alcohol and other drug use and mental illness.

“The demand for our services continues to grow due to the increased use of methamphetamines and prescription drugs and the ongoing impact of alcohol, cannabis and heroin on not only the individuals, but their families and communities,” Ms Babineau said.

“In particular, ‘ice’ can rapidly have serious adverse impacts on people’s personal lives and their physical and mental health, and most find it very difficult to stop using the drug without help. Some people quickly spiral downwards; others may be able to sustain a relatively normal life for a while before they or their families reach out for help.

“Alcohol remains a significant problem, named by one in five (20%) Odyssey House residential services clients as their principal drug of concern in 2018 (22% in 2017). In our community services, one in three (29%) clients cited alcohol as their main drug of concern.

Excessive or non-medical use of prescription opioids like fentanyl or oxycodone accounted for 3 per cent of our residential admissions in 2018, up from 1.3 per cent in 2017. In our community services, 2.1 per cent of clients named prescription opioids as their principal drug of concern.

“These figures are currently quite low, but there’s rising public health concern here and overseas about increases in poisoning and overdoses from prescription opioids[iii]. We are keeping an eye on the situation and we’re ready to help if and when more people reach out for treatment.

“People may not realise their drug use is problematic, don’t recognise how it’s impacting on them or others, or they don’t want to admit to ‘an addiction’ because of the public stigma still attached to this treatable health condition,” she said.

“Regardless of their drug of concern, we encourage people to get treatment sooner rather than later, such as in the community through their GP or a counsellor while they continue their day-to-day lives, or in our residential withdrawal unit or rehabilitation program.

“Our message at Odyssey House is: Don’t wait until your drug use is having severe negative consequences for you and your family, such as job loss, relationship breakdowns or physical or mental health problems. With some drugs, such as strong prescription painkillers or heroin, the first major consequence may actually be life-threatening.

“Overcoming alcohol and other drug dependence and rebuilding your life requires significant effort, time and assistance, but you’re not alone and the benefits are well worth the investment.

“Government at all levels acknowledge that alcohol and other drug dependence is a health and social issue, and while funding is modest, the policy direction is welcome,” Ms Babineau said.

Federal and NSW government funding accounted for 71 per cent of Odyssey House’s income in 2017-18, with 29 per cent raised through philanthropy, in-kind support and treatment costs.

During the financial year, Odyssey House NSW assisted 2276 people: 678 in its renowned residential rehabilitation program, which treats people from around Australia, and 1598 through its 11 new community services around Sydney. Men accounted for 70 per cent of clients; 13 per cent of clients identified as Indigenous.

Odyssey House’s programs help clients overcome drug use disorders, deal with underlying personal issues, manage mental illness, develop coping strategies, learn practical life skills (e.g. parenting, anger management, job-seeking, communication skills), prevent relapse and access other support.

More than 40,000 people have been assisted to overcome dependence on alcohol and other drugs since Odyssey House NSW opened in 1977.

Odyssey House NSW residential withdrawal and rehabilitation services are based in south-western Sydney. Odyssey House has 11 community-based treatment services around greater Sydney:

  • Central and Eastern Sydney region: Redfern, Canterbury
  • South Western Sydney region: Campbelltown, Fairfield, Bowral, Tahmoor
  • Western Sydney region: Blacktown, Doonside
  • Sydney North region: Chatswood, Manly, Pymble.

Contact Odyssey House on 1800 397 739 or visit for information and general advice on residential services, community services, aftercare, Magistrates Early Referral into Treatment and other support.

For a copy of the 2018 Odyssey House Annual Report visit:

Using both motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioural therapy

A training opportunity:

Why do you need both MI and CBT? 

Motivational Interviewing (or Motivational Enhancement Therapy) and cognitive behaviour therapy (typically Relapse Prevention Therapy) are the two core skills in AOD therapeutic work.  It makes sense to combine a therapy that increases motivation with one that enhances emotional and behavioural skills. These are the two things that are often missing or underdeveloped in AOD clients.

But they come from very different theoretical frameworks.  MI comes from a humanistic tradition in the style of Carl Rogers.  It’s a directive client centred therapy.  Relapse prevention, on the other hand, is one of the behavioural and cognitive therapies.

So how do we integrate the two?  Most research using these two different theoretical frameworks uses MI in the first 1-3 sessions to increase motivation to change and then, sequentially, CBT to improve emotional and behavioural regulation.

This is an effective approach if someone has low motivation to change their drug use when they come into treatment, but what about people who are already motivated?  And motivations waxes and wanes over time, what happens when motivation drops in the middle of treatment?

The real art to AOD work is being able to seamlessly use the two approaches right through treatment.  We aren’t talking about the strategies and techniques here, although they can be useful.  What is needed is an understanding of how people change, an ability to listen for what MI calls ‘change talk’ and the ability to adapt and move between the two styles collaboratively providing direction and strategy (CBT) or using a more questioning style (MI) to assist the client to move forward to change.

360EDGE is offering two workshops in August to help you develop these skills and understand how and when to utilise them seamlessly throughout treatment from assessment to closure. 




21ST August

FORGET THE A-B-C’S.  Come to this fun interactive workshop and go behind the scenes to understand the mechanics of CBT for AOD.  Find out what makes CBT tick so you can tailor strategies and treatment to different client presentations.

This foundation workshop offers a practical introduction to core practice skills in AOD treatment.

This workshop is for practitioners new to CBT, new to AOD, or wanting to brush up on their core CBT skills (Beginner to intermediate level)

  • Understand the underlying drivers of change in CBT
  • Learn how to structure a session to get the best outcomes
  • Master the key strategies and when to use them

Book your place here


Integrating MI and CBT in AOD

22 August

Find out how to effectively blend the two core interventions in AOD treatment to achieve better client outcomes.  This practice based workshop shows you how and when to utilise MI and CBT seamlessly throughout treatment from assessment to closure.

This workshop is for those with some basic knowledge of CBT and MI wanting to refine their practice.  (Intermediate to advanced practitioners)

Book your place here


Cost (per workshop)
Earlybird $350 (by 7 August)
Standard: $450 (after 7 August)
Includes electronic handouts and resources and unlimited free follow-up support post training, and morning and afternoon teas and lunch

Contact us for special rates for groups of 5 or more

Rydges St Kilda
Contact us for special rates on accommodation

Jobs – Programs Manager – NSW

Job at Hepatitis NSW:


Programs Manager

Full-time, 35 hours per week (on-going contract)

Salary $74,493 base ($82,575 including superannuation and annual leave loading)

Full salary packaging is available.

We are seeking a highly motivated person to join our team. Reporting to the Deputy Chief Executive Officer, your primary responsibility is to coordinate, strategically develop and manage our programs team which includes our education projects (workforce development, capacity building, and Aboriginal projects) and our Community Support services (Hepatitis Infoline, treatment access and support projects, Peer Projects and Counselling).

You will supervise and manage a small team including casual staff and volunteers. You will also contribute to the planning and development of our general service delivery programs and to policy development.

Your demonstrated experience includes:

  • Education, training, and group work
  • An understanding of one or more of the following: counselling, chronic disease self-management or social work
  • Staff recruitment and management
  • An understanding of access and equity issues.


You will have the ability to develop a thorough understanding of medical and social implications of viral hepatitis, as well as a commitment to harm reduction and health promotion concepts as they relate to injecting drug use.

You also have relevant qualifications or experience in social services, health or education, excellent verbal and written communication skills, and exceptional organisational abilities

Closing date: 9am Thursday 12 April 2018

Interviews: Week commencing 16 April 2018


A job pack containing job description, selection criteria, terms and conditions of employment and a guide for job applicants must be obtained before applying.



Our offices are in Surry Hills, Sydney and are wheelchair-accessible.

  • Hepatitis NSW is committed to the ideal of equal opportunity in employment and does not discriminate against applicants or employees on any grounds.
  • People with lived experience of viral hepatitis are encouraged to apply.
  • We also encourage applications from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.


Participants needed for research study

Have you recovered from an alcohol addiction? If so, a team of researchers at the University of New South Wales want to hear from you.

If you are 18 or over, live in Australia, and have recovered from an alcohol addiction, take part in a 15-20 minute survey and go into the draw to win 1 of 15 $100 Coles Myer gift cards. Follow the link here to find out more:

Canberra Service Launch

The Canberra Alliance for Harm Minimisation and Advocacy (CAHMA), The Connection and the Australian Injecting & Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL) are hosting a major community event to open CAHMA and The Connection’s new premises in Belconnen and mark World Hepatitis Day in the nation’s capital.

The event will be attended by around 100 community members, including politicians, CEOs, funding bodies, community workers and service users and boasts an impressive line-up of speakers talking about the challenges of addressing viral hepatitis and the range of services available in the ACT.

In Australia in 2015 it was estimated that 209,000 people were living with chronic hepatitis C and 239,000 with chronic hepatitis B.  In the ACT approximately 3,600 people are living with hepatitis C and 4,000 with hepatitis B.  The burden of disease and mortality associated with hepatitis B and hepatitis C continues to increase, and preventable infections continue to occur.

Speakers will include:

  • Aunty Agnes Shea, Ngunnawal Elder – Welcome to Country
  • Dr Nadeem Siddiqui, Executive Director of Clinical Services, Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service
  • John Didlick, Executive Officer, Hepatitis ACT
  • Chris Gough, Manager, CAHMA and The Connection


DATE:            Thursday 27 July 2017

TIME:             11.30am-12.15pm (community BBQ to follow)

VENUE:         Margaret Timpson Park

Corner Chandler St and Benjamin Way, Belconnen (across from Belconnen Westfield)


Background to the organisations:

CAHMA is an integral part of the ACT’s alcohol and other drugs (AOD) sector and exists to promote the health and human rights of people who use, or have used, drugs.  CAHMA provides a range of services to reduce drug related harms to individuals, families and communities, including in the key areas of:

  • harm reduction information and education
  • overdose prevention and management
  • peer treatment support and advocacy
  • ensuring culturally appropriate service provision for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

The Connection – CAHMA’s dedicated program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – delivers a comprehensive, person-centred suite of services designed to reduce the disproportionate impact of blood-borne viruses (BBV), sexually transmissible infections (STI), and AOD issues on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the ACT and surrounding region.

AIVL is the ACT-based national organisation representing people who use/have used illicit drugs and is the peak body for the state and territory peer-based drug user organisations (including CAHMA).

Prevention Forum – Canberra

Prevention 1st is launching a report by health economist, Professor Alan Shiell, on how much Australia spends on health prevention and whether it is enough. Prevention 1st is a campaign that is calling on all Australian governments and political parties to commit to a strong preventive health agenda to tackle Australia’s greatest health challenge.
The report is being launched as part of a forum that will include leading public health experts talking about how they would spend prevention dollars if they had $100 million. It should be interesting!
You are invited to attend this forum. Details are:
When: Wednesday 14 June 2017
Where: Parliament House, Canberra
For more information, go to

Reducing the Prison Population in NSW: Policy Paper

Just Reinvest NSW is today releasing the first of its policy papers on key proposals to reduce the rising prison population in NSW, with a particular view to addressing the level of Aboriginal overrepresentation, which has risen by 40% over the last decade.

This first paper focuses on the need for smarter sentencing and parole law reform, and in some key areas aligns with the NSW Criminal Justice Reform package announcement.

The paper was developed following a roundtable discussion in November 2016, with representatives from the Law Society of NSW, the NSW Bar Association, the Law Council of Australia, the Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT, Legal Aid NSW, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, the University of NSW, the University of Technology Sydney, the Public Defender’s office, and other prominent members of the NSW legal community. It will now be the subject of consultation with peak NSW Aboriginal organisations and other key organisations and agencies.

A Parliamentary Forum will be held in the coming months to formally launch the policy paper.

Full Media Release –

Policy Paper –

ATCA Budget Response

The Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association (ATCA) joins other peak bodies and organisations in the alcohol and other drug (AOD) field calling on the Government to reconsider its decision regarding drug testing of welfare recipients, announced in this week’s budget.

Dr Lynne Magor-Blatch, Executive Officer of ATCA, said today, “The, “Don’t do drugs” response from the Prime Minister on Radio National on Wednesday, completely overlooks a number of vital issues.  Many people who have become caught up in substance use are working hard to change their lives, and many are in this position because of a whole range of issues, some of which have been out of their control.”

Dr Magor-Blatch stated that, “Approximately 200,000 people receive AOD treatment annually in Australia, however it is estimated that as many as 200,000 – 500,000 more are seeking treatment and are unable to access it. [1]

The Minister for Social Services Hon Christian Porter, when questioned recently on the ABC RN Drive show, agreed that this decision would affect approximately 11,000 people annually – and that people would be expected to “take all reasonable steps” to address their drug problem.  While he drew attention to the funds distributed through the Ice Taskforce and Primary Health Networks, he agreed that there may be a continuing shortage of residential rehabilitation beds.  The scheme will therefore rely on counselling – suited for people who are at the less complex end of the spectrum, and services already in operation.  There will be no new funding for AOD services – and particularly those that work with complex clients.”

Members of ATCA provide quality evidence-based treatment programs through residential therapeutic communities, day programs, detoxification services and outclient services.  However, while all ATCA members have received a guarantee of funding through to 2018, none have received indexation since 2013.  This means, in real terms, that services have been reduced and services are at a point where they can no longer meet existing demand.  This will be further impacted by drug testing welfare recipients who are unable to find a place in a treatment service.

Studies have clearly shown that for every $1 invested in AOD treatment, society gains $7 through reduced healthcare and legal costs – in fact ATCA has found that their services alone provide a savings to Governments of more than $146,000 per person per annum.

“However, despite this evidence, this week’s budget represents the “big stick” approach without the “carrot” which would help people to get the help they need”, Dr Magor-Blatch stated.

While the drug testing measure announced in the Budget   is purported to be accompanied by a suite of additional welfare reform measures aimed at coercing engagement with AOD treatment, including the “removal of exemptions due to drugs or alcohol abuse” and removal of eligibility for the Disability Support Pension, there is no increased  funding in the budget for drug treatment.

“ATCA is working with families and individuals, and we see first-hand the stress these families are under, and the complete sense of helplessness often experienced when a family member cannot access the treatment they need.  There is little point in identifying an AOD problem if there is no capacity to treat it.  Drug testing welfare recipients will prove to be a costly but pointless exercise in this context if there is nowhere for people to go for treatment.

Instead of drug testing, this funding would have achieved a far better outcome for individuals and families if it had been put into treatment services”.

[1] New Horizons: The review of alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia:$File/The-Review-of-alcohol-and-other-drug-treatment-services-in-Australia.pdf

Jobs: Registered Nurses – Southern Highlands NSW

David Martin Place (DMP) is a new in-patient withdrawal unit at Triple Care Farm in the Southern Highlands (Robertson) of NSW run by Mission Australia.

We are currently recruiting 4.2 FTE Registered Nurses to provide holistic care to the young people (ages 16 to 24) in a rural detox setting.

DMP is a brand new purpose built 10 bed in-patient withdrawal management facility. Interested?

Then please follow this link:

Readiness to change drug use research

Readiness to change drug use and help-seeking intentions of police detainees: findings from the DUMA program / Alexandra Gannoni and Susan Goldsmid

Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 520 January 2017

The nexus between drug use and crime is well established. Offenders are considerably more likely to use illicit drugs than the general population, and a large proportion of offenders attribute their criminal offending to drug use, yet very little is known about how to respond effectively to drug problems among police detainees.

Using data obtained through the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA) program, this paper explores the readiness to change drug use and help-seeking intentions of Australian police detainees with drug problems.

The analysis revealed those detainees most in need of drug treatment were also those most ready to change their drug use. The findings serve as a reminder of the need and desire for interventions for drug abuse among the police detainee population, and have implications for the development of intervention strategies aimed at reducing drug use among offender populations.