Grog Watch

 Issue #6  April  2013  



NEW - Whanau Pack - NEW Tai Tokerau parenting resource launched



A new booklet produced by the Northland District Health Board offers parents simple ways to improve their communication and build stronger bonds with their teens.

Northland District Health Board health promotion advisor Dave Hookway, who led the project, says the free ‘Whanau Pack’ booklet was developed in consultation with a broad cross-section of community and health agencies and topic experts.

“We were guided by the latest evidence on parenting and data from the 2007 Youth survey on adolescent health. Our resource focuses on key topics such as time, boundaries, monitoring, communication and role-modeling, and highlights the role these key areas play in supporting positive parenting practices”.

The free Whanau Pack is intended for use by people working alongside families and parents with teenagers and features local images and people from throughout Northland. There is a focus on alcohol in particular offering practical strategies that can be applied to most issues challenging young people and their parents/caregivers.

The Whanau Pack highlights some key reasons why parents should delay access to alcohol by their teenagers. “When we looked into the research, we found that for young people who started drinking by the age of 14, almost half went on to develop alcohol dependency problems compared with only one in 10 who didn’t drink alcohol until they were 21.” explains Dave.  “We also know that that the brain continues to develop throughout the teenage years and on into the early to mid-20s. For this reason, so it is important to delay and limit alcohol use by teenagers”.

“Parents need to be encouraged and supported in maintaining their role as a parent rather than trying to be a friend to their kids”, says Dave, noting that young people do better when they have limits and a safe, secure home in which to grow.

“The Whanau Pack promotes simple strategies to strengthen families and relationships. For example eating meals together is one way for teens and parents to maintain connection. Research shows that kids who share meals with their family at least five time a week are less likely to smoke, abuse alcohol, become overweight or have suicidal thoughts and behaviours. They are more likely to feel better about themselves, do better at school and feel more connected with their parents and family”.

“The challenge for families”, Dave says “is to remain connected while accommodating busy lives. It’s the quality of time you spend together that is most important and while many parents think their kids want less involvement with them during their teenage years, this couldn’t be further from the truth”.

The resource has been embraced by lead agencies in Northland, such as the Ministry of Social Development, the Ministry of Education and New Zealand Police. Strategies from the Whanau Pack will be developed further and promoted over the coming year to reinforce the messages in the booklet. Copies will be made available through community and health organisations, Northland District Health Board centres, Whanau Ora providers and schools throughout Northland.

If you wish to receive a free copy of the resource, click here.



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Increasing concerns over 'legal highs'



The Alcohol Drug Helpline has recorded an increase in the numbers of callers seriously concerned about the use and side effects from ‘legal highs’. Commonly sold through dairies and over the internet, these products are thought to contain synthetic cannabinoids although few actually state the active ingredients.


The Helpline reported 59 calls in February and  102 in March 2013 – compared with just 1 for February and 10 for March in 2012. The common themes included admissions to A&E, major anxiety, paranoia, memory loss, suicidal thoughts, bad come-downs (aggression, irritability), agitation, and vomiting. Many users report a preference for these type of products because they are legal and believe that this infers their safety. However, there remains little evidence as to the safety of these products and users are at risk of experiencing a wide range of side-effects.


Sold under names such as  “Thai High”, “Spice” and “Kronic”, the products are marketed with attractive packaging and claims such as “ … a truly unique product designed for those that wish to explore everything spiritual..”  and “…. a Dreamy Exotic Blend to keep you ready to blaaaaze” (sic). 


The NZ Drug Foundation believes that there should be restrictions on the way in which these are marketed with executive director Ross Bell demanding that plain packaging be introduced as part of the new synthetic drugs legislation to prevent legal battles with the legal highs industry in future. Mr Bell said the same rationale for plain cigarette packets could be applied to synthetic cannabis and party pills. “We don’t want to suddenly create this new market which is really attractive. We’re trying to make these products as unsexy as possible.”


Temporary bans on potentially harmful synthetic products are set to lapse in August when the new law comes in to place.


Read more about synthetic cannabinoids here





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Local Alcohol Plans - have your say



The role of local government has recently become even more significant in changing the landscape of alcohol in our communities with the introduction of the new Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.


The ability for local government to develop a local alcohol policy means that communities will now have a say on local liquor licensing matters. Local government will also be in charge of appointing the District Licensing Committees, administering regulatory functions under a broader set of criteria than the previous Act allowed and administering a system for risk-based licensing fees.


You and your community will only get the chance to have a say if your local District Council chooses to adopt a local alcohol plan. Should they decide not to, then the national default trading hours will apply.


The default maximum national trading hours—

  • (a) are the hours between 8 am on any day and 4 am on the next day for the sale and supply of alcohol for consumption on premises for which an on-licence or a club licence is held:
  • (b) are the hours between 7 am and 11 pm on any day for the sale of alcohol on premises for which an off-licence is held.


If you support a Local Alcohol Plan for your community – it is important to communicate this to your local elected officials – such as councillors or mayor – as they will be the ones to vote on adopting such a policy.

Alcohol Healthwatch provides a summary of the key parts the new Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 here.





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Alcohol Marketing: Grooming the Next Generation



Children are being groomed by alcohol companies years before they reach the legal drinking age, through advertising on Facebook, researchers say.


The social media website has also become so entrenched in young people's drinking culture that they can no longer distinguish advertising, Massey University health psychology Associate Professor Antonia Lyons said.


A 2011 survey on drinking culture, involving more than 150 people aged between 18 and 25, found most were "drinking to get drunk".  Dr Lyons said checking Facebook was part of their everyday routine and it was used as a platform to organise social events, many of which revolved around drinking. It was also used to share alcohol-related updates and photos with friends.


“This information, combined with bar and alcohol brand pages, had normalised the culture of intoxication among young people”, she said. “When participants were asked about bar and alcohol brand pages, they did not realise that these were a form of marketing.”


“These pages also had games and giveaways that appealed to children and teenagers,” Dr Lyons said. "What they're doing is grooming the next generation of drinkers. Once someone ‘likes’ a page, they get regular updates, which can be seen by friends on their newsfeed. Their profile information is also shared with the page creator.”


"They've already got this interaction with these consumers and they're also getting their profile information so, as soon as they're 18, they can be directly targeted."


Dr Lyons presented at the Alcohol Action 2013 conference in Wellington recently.  A video of her presentation can be viewed here.



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Alcohol Action conference highlights concerns



The 4th annual Alcohol Action NZ Conference, The Perils of Alcohol Marketing, was held on 7 March 2013 at Te Papa, Wellington.


A number of strong themes emerged from the conference including:-


·         that alcohol advertising remains a significant concern given that the Law Commission’s recommendations to ban all but objective product advertising was not adopted by the Government;


·         that the self regulatory system for alcohol advertising is a failure; that social networking has become a significant component of alcohol advertising, and is a very cost effective tool for the alcohol industry;


·         that public health and community effort needs to focus on achieving the implementation of the Law Commission’s recommendations and not on further tweaking of the current self-regulatory regime.


  The keynote addresses were filmed and are available to view  here



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NEW - Alcohol and the teenage brain - a short film



Alcohol affects the teenage brain differently to the adult brain because it is still developing. The younger you are when you start drinking alcohol, the greater the risk of experiencing alcohol-related harms and later mental health problems. Excessive use of alcohol during this period of brain development can also cause learning and memory problems.


A new 4-minute animated film “Under Construction: alcohol and the teenage brain” shows the effects of alcohol use and risky drinking on the different areas of the developing brain, as well as the impact on behaviour. It presents complex and up-to-date neurobiological evidence in a way that is engaging to young people.


Watch the clip on YouTube here



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AOD treatment services



Adult Alcohol and Drug Services

Northland District Health Board Mental Health and Addictions - Alcohol and Drug services - are a community based outpatient service with clinics at hospital sites in Whangarei, Kawakawa, Dargaville and Kaitaia. Outpatient services are also provided in clinics at Kaikohe and Kerikeri, and visiting clinics in Kaeo and Hokianga. The service is for people 18 and over. There is no upper age limit. 

Services are offered to people with alcohol and drug problems and disorders, to those with co existing mental health and alcohol and drug problems and disorders, and to whanau and family members.

Click for more info


Child and youth Alcohol and Drug services –

Te Roopu Kimiora (TRK or Child & Youth)

Te Roopu Kimiora provide a multi-disciplinary mental health and addiction service for children aged 0 to 14, young people aged from 15 to 19 and their family/whanau who are experiencing severe mental illness and drug and alcohol problems. Family inclusive treatment is provided for young people with mental health and substance use problems. There is a specialist Youth alcohol and drug service based in Kaitaia.

Click for more info

Contact your local area hospital and ask for the Mental Health and Addiction Team, Alcohol and Drug services

Whangarei & BOI/mid North - 09 430 4100

Kaitaia - 09 408 9180

Dargaville - 09 439 3330


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In the news



Latest NZ alcohol statistics released

A new report from the Ministry of Health has shown that during 2011/12 there has been a decrease in alcohol consumption compared to the last survey in 2006/07.  The key findings point toward a small decrease in adult consumption and youth consumption of alcohol. There has also been a small decrease in people who report ‘hazardous drinking’. 

The report can be accessed on the Ministry of Health website here.


Alcohol Healthwatch calls on Govt to reduce BAC level

Alcohol Healthwatch calls on the Government to deliver on community expectations for safer roads and reduce the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) for all drivers over the age of 20 years to at least 0.05.

Alcohol Healthwatch director Rebecca Williams says we have plenty of evidence to support lowering the BAC in order to reduce the number of people who die or are injured on our roads, and surveys show that 85% of the public support a lower limit.."….Read more

Binge drinking among Maori secondary school students

New research published in the NZ Medical Journal has concluded that binge drinking is associated with a range of poor health and social outcomes for Māori youth. They also found that the associated poorer access to drug and alcohol services revealed an inequity requiring priority attention” ….Read more

Drinkers in dark about real strength

Two out of three Kiwis do not know what a standard drink is and more than half don't know how much alcohol an average person can process in an hour, a study shows.

Results from a survey commissioned by consumer education programme Cheers! showed 67 per cent of those surveyed could not identify a standard drink - one that contains 10g of alcohol.

More than 60 per cent of people did not understand that it was the amount of alcohol an average person could process in an hour and 10 per cent admitted that they had never even heard of the term "standard drink".Read more

Urgent call for protection of children from alcohol advertising

An editorial in the March edition of the British Medical Journal has concluded …” Our children urgently need protection from alcohol marketing. Voluntary codes and partial measures have all too obviously failed, and marketing through digital media is set to multiply the resulting harm.”

The article follows a new analysis conducted by the RAND Corporation for the European Commission shows that British regulatory structures are so flawed that teenagers, far from being shielded from alcohol promotion, are more exposed to it than are adults.   ….Read more


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Compiled and produced by:


Dave Hookway  - Health Promotion Advisor - Alcohol and other Drugs

Northland District Health Board - 55 Hobson Ave, Kerikeri 

Postal address: - PO Box 906, Kerikeri 0230, Bay of Islands


(  Ph (09) 430-4101 x 7895 | Mob 021-221-4027

or freephone 0800-537-4342 option #3    Fax 09-4076215


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Need help now?


 To talk to someone about your or someone else’s alcohol or other drug use,

or for contacts of your local counsellor or treatment provider,

phone the free and confidential

Alcohol Drug Helpline on 0800-787-797  from 10am to 10pm
or visit

In an Emergency dial 111



Acknowledgements: -

Thanks to Alcohol Healthwatch and the Australian Drug Foundation for use of some material.