Alcohol and Other Drugs Alliance

The Alcohol and Other Drug Alliance was formed in August 2014 which coincided with the Victorian Government’s reform of adult non-residential alcohol and other drug treatment services. 
 
Alcohol and other drug (AOD) use has significant health and economic costs as well as significant personal and social problems for individuals, their families and communities. Whilst there are wealthy areas in the Frankston Mornington Peninsula (FMP) catchment there are also areas of entrenched socio-economic disadvantage, with high rates of unemployment and homelessness. Research shows that there is a strong association between these social determinants and health damaging behaviours, including alcohol and drug use. 
 
People living in the FMP catchment are more likely, than the Victorian average, to be exposed to short-term alcohol risk1 , however the City of Frankston has a high proportion of the most severe cases of alcohol abuse. Illicit substances and the misuse of prescription medication are also of considerable concern for the catchment.
 
The AOD Alliance will focus on four priority areas in order to localise the key directions of the Victorian Government’s sector reform and to respond to the needs of the catchment;
 
  1. Develop an early intervention system
  2. Ensure there is equitable access to integrated treatment services
  3. Address dual diagnosis
  4. Improve access to pharmacotherapy
 

Early intervention system

Primary care settings are well suited to delivering brief AOD interventions as this is how most of the population access their health care.  However these services  have traditionally not been offered in the general primary care setting due to competing health priorities, lack of knowledge around suitable brief interventions, negative practitioner attitudes and limited training. 
 
The AOD Alliance will focus on building the capacity of primary care, allied health and community services to respond to low-impact AOD use through screening and brief intervention, and enhancing this work through the development of care and referral pathways. 
 

Accessible and integrated treatment services

Research identifies that harmful use of AOD can be a cause and/or contributor to other issues such as family violence, child protection notification and offending behaviour and may also be more prevalent in certain cohorts such as young people and Indigenous communities. Service integration allows for expert input from multiple agencies to deal with the often complex needs that accompany AOD use. 
 
In order to ensure that treatment is oriented around people’s needs and issues, it is essential that data are collated and research undertaken to identify key trends relating to AOD use across the FMP catchment. 
 
Work on this priority will focus on:
 
  • ensuring services are responding in accordance with demand 
  • collecting data to identify and respond to emerging trends
  • improving the integration of AOD treatment services with broader government, health and community services
 

Dual diagnosis (mental illness)

Co-occurring mental illness and AOD issues can further impact on an individual’s health and social circumstances, particularly in relation to engagement in treatment, increased risk of relapse, implications of illicit drug use with prescribed medication, increased risk of homelessness, social isolation, suicidality, physical health problems, violence and criminal involvement.
 
Work on this priority will include: 
 
  • developing care and referral pathways for mental health and AOD practitioners
  • improving screening for dual diagnosis in each service area
  • enhancing clinician skills and confidence in delivering brief AOD interventions 
  • developing treatment pathways for dual diagnosis within existing resources
 

Pharmacotherapy services

The Victorian Government has funded the establishment of pharmacotherapy networks across the State.  The FMP catchment is part of the South East (Area 4) Network, which aims to:
 
  • enhance access to pharmacotherapy services (ORT) for clients by increasing pharmacotherapy prescribers and dispensers
  • enhance service integration, referral pathways and collaboration between community based and specialist ORT providers
 
The Network has appointed a network liaison position to work with providers in the FMP catchment. The AOD’s work against this priority will harness and integrate with the work of the Pharmacotherapy Network.
 

Resources

  • Frankston Mornington Peninsula Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Resource Guide 2017 has been put together through a collaboration between Chris Crewther MP, Federal Member for Dunkley, and our Local Drug Action Team (LDAT), which consists of local alcohol and drug agencies, educational institutions, local businesses, Victoria Police and local health, school and other representatives.
  • The Older Wiser Lifestyle (OWL) program is for older adults, aged 60 years and over. It offers support, counselling and education about the impact of alcohol and other drugs on health and wellbeing. OWL has produced a practical guide for health and welfare professionals on PREVENTING AND REDUCING ALCOHOL- AND OTHER DRUG-RELATED HARM AMONG OLDER PEOPLE. Download it here.
 
1 Short-term risk -- The consumption of 7 or more standard drinks for men, or 5 or more standard drinks for women, on any one drinking occasion, is considered risky in the short term. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2001 National Drug Strategy Household Survey)