Alcohol and other Drugs – update

Con-nect-ing the sector


Grog Watch

 Issue #1  August  2012  



breaking the myths of ‘sobering up’ …..



Claims by a defendant in a recent court case that she hadn’t been drinking since the night before may well have been true despite her having been found to be well over the legal blood alcohol limit.

“Drinkers need to be aware that it takes our bodies at least one hour and sometimes longer to process one standard drink”, says Northland District Health Board’s Health Promotion Advisor Dave Hookway. “With the potent range of alcoholic drinks available these days, it is possible that you are consuming far more alcohol than you actually realise. Premixed spirit drinks commonly contain five to eight per cent alcohol, and much stronger than their sweet flavours would have you think.”

The standard drinks measure is usually on the label or side of the bottle, can or cask. A standard drink is equal to 10 grams of pure alcohol – the amount that an average person’s body will process in one hour.

Dave points out that a 440ml can of 8% premixed spirit drink contains 2.8 standard drinks – the same alcohol content as almost 3 cans of regular beer. “It would take an average body almost three hours to get rid of the alcohol from that one can of drink. Were you to drink six of these cans, it could take up to 18 hours to eliminate all alcohol from your body. This is very much longer than people realise and explains why drinkers may be found to be legally over the blood alcohol limit even after having had a sleep.”

“There is no way to speed up the process of removing alcohol from the body. Some people believe that cold showers, coffee, a sleep or even more alcohol can sober you up. These are all wrong. Quite simply, there is no way to speed up the process. Time is the only the factor that must be remembered.”

“If you know you have to drive early next day, don’t drink on the night before. Should you choose to drink, add up the number of standard drinks you have had and allow enough hours for the body to process those drinks. If you think you may have had too much, arrange for someone who hasn’t been drinking to drive for you. It’s not just a matter of getting caught by the Police. It’s about the lives and safety for your children and your whanau”, Dave said.

Click here for more information and resources on standard drinks


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International FASD Day - 9th September



Sunday 9th September 2012 marks the 13th anniversary of the inaugural International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Day, or FASD Day as it is more commonly known.

Communities across the country contribute something to ensure that local people hear the key messages – drinking alcohol during pregnancy can harm an unborn baby; the effects can last a lifetime; the harm is preventable; and more can and should be done to improve the lives of affected people.

For examples of great community action – click on this picture of Ngati Hine kaimahi in action doing  their Pregnant Pause flash-mob event last year in Whangarei town square.


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Out of Sight - Tobacco product displays



Cigarettes at the local dairy will no longer be in plain sight from tomorrow, as a ban on retail displays kicks in. New regulations, introduced under a law passed last year, will require all retailers to ensure tobacco products are hidden from view.

Retailers will also be banned from referring to the sale of tobacco products in their trading names.


Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia, who is behind the ban, said last year that the law change would remove the "loophole'' of tobacco displays. "Retail displays, innocently positioned alongside everyday confectionary and sweets, are a key component of making cigarettes attractive to recruit young smokers. We're not going to tolerate this any longer.''


Most dairies will have a roller door which comes down to cover the displays. The law that introduced the display ban also allows enforcement officers to instantly fine retailers $1000 for selling tobacco to people aged under 18. It also increases the maximum penalty for selling tobacco to underage people from $2000 to $10,000… Read more about the new laws



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Whangarei Emergency Department tackling alcohol harm head on!



The Whangarei Emergency Department (ED) is a busy place at the best of times. On Friday and Saturday nights, alcohol fuelled incidents add pressure to an already stretched ED team. Between August 2011 and March 2012, 362 alcohol-related injuries consumed many labour intensive hours in the ED accumulating costs in excess of $500,000.


Since August 2011, the ED team have been proactively asking injured  patients if they have consumed alcohol prior to their injury. Nurses have also been voicing their concern if the patient's injuries are alcohol-related and asking them if they would like support with their alcohol issues.


Clinical Nurse Manager Margaret Dreadon, says “The initiative is an attempt to reduce the numbers of patients presenting with alcohol-related injuries. The cause and severity of injuries can range from someone drunkenly punching a wall resulting in tendon damage and lacerations to the hands, to full-on Intensive Care Unit treatment following car crashes. Basically, we have to find ways to reduce unnecessary admissions of preventable injuries to ED, and alcohol–related injuries fall into this category. We have an ALAC information pack on hand which has a tear off strip, with patient contact details on it. We can fax this to the Alcohol Drug Helpline there and then, if the patient consents”.


Someone from the Helpline will follow up later by ringing or texting the patient at a time and place convenient to them. If they require further support they are referred through to Mental Health and Addiction services. Margaret says while some patients flatly deny they have a problem and 'just don't want to go there', others do take up the offer.


Public Health, Alcohol Harm Reduction Coordinator, Mandi Cross, says “It’s taken a cross services approach to provide this support and each of the departments have been integral to making it work. Police and Work and Income have also adopted the concept offering a similar referral process with the Alcohol Drug Helpline. The Helpline has received over five hundred referrals from the Northland Project resulting in a marked increase of Northlanders accessing support for alcohol and drug issues”.



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Reducing impaired driving in New Zealand.



Impaired driving is a serious problem in New Zealand. Road crashes place a substantial burden on the economy and the health sector, and lower the quality of life of many New Zealanders. The annual social cost of road crashes in New Zealand is approximately $3.8 billion dollars.  Check out the website 


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What's happening in the sector?



Not A Good Day To Die - 3rd August 5.30pm

Bossy Ducharme - Indigenous Rights Advocate - Anishnawbe Nation, Manitoba

In 2010, Bossy Ducharme began a journey of self-discovery through a yearlong change of diet, eating only traditional food pre-European arrival. His extraordinary journey has been documented on film in preparation for the documentary “Not a Good Day to Die”. Bossy is now on a New Zealand nationwide tour of speaking engagements. His frank, open discussion will address issues such as addiction, suicide, chronic illness, internalised racism, and transference, the historical trauma experienced by his people and how he sees that manifesting in contemporary times. Please join us for this very special opportunity to hear Bossy’s story.

Venue:  Pehiaweri Maori Church & Marae - 99 Ngunguru Rd, Glenbervie, Whangarei

RSVP  or Ph 09 4380789


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In the  news



Alcohol Reform Bill changes again

The Alcohol Reform Bill has had further changes added making the measures more ''flexible,'' Justice Minister Judith Collins says. The bill has been moving through the parliamentary process for 20 months, with Collins mooting her own amendment in May, when she said the bill was set to come back for its final stages in June. But the bill remains on ice as the Government seeks the ''huge amount of time'' it needs to pass it through the complex committee stages….Read more

Minimum liquor price law outlook grim

Despite ongoing work on a minimum alcohol price, a proposal to introduce a pricing regime looks set to fail. Justice Ministry officials are running two meetings this week with industry leaders on a plan that would drive up the cost of some liquor. Prime Minister John Key appeared opposed to the proposal, saying some people would switch to the lowest quality alcohol rather than drink any less volume…        Read more

Kiwis bombarded by alcohol messages

Labour is calling for changes to stop the normalisation of alcohol by sporting and cultural heroes amid an 'explosion' of foetal alcohol syndrome. It says New Zealanders are being bombarded with messages that alcohol is a normal part of life and is urging MPs to support proposed new restrictions on advertising….. Read more

'Party of the century' descends into chaos

Rocks, stones, bottles and shopping trolleys were hurled at police as an 18th-birthday party spiralled out of control. Up to 200 drunken young people clashed with officers….Read more

Toddler found on highway while mother was drinking

A toddler found running down a highway in her pyjamas "looking for mummy" had been left home alone while her mother went out drinking. The 3-year-old Masterton girl was found, distressed and wearing a wet nappy….Read more

'Bath salts' a mix of drugs

The head of Auckland's metro crime operations and support squad, Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Cahill, said bath salts wasn't so much a new drug, rather a different version of existing substances made from whatever ingredients drug cooks could get hold of. In the last three years drug dealers had used several similar substances to make existing and newly named drugs as the supply of traditional ingredients had run out, he said. For example, party pills were now often sold as ecstasy. Bath salts could contain any number of substances including MDVP, methadone or BZP, he said….. Read more

Govt should stick to guns on 'alcopops'

Sweet-tasting and high-strength "alcopops" have become the drink of choice for many young women. They take much of the blame for binge-drinking, and governments, unsurprisingly, are seeking to limit their consumption. ….. Read more

LSD case reflects growth of problem

The sentencing of a 16-year-old Invercargill girl for dealing the class A hallucinogenic drug LSD to teens reflects an increase in the amount of hard drugs in circulation, police say.  The police summary of facts outlining the girl's case says drug dealing has become a widespread problem throughout Southland. ….. Read more

2500 arrests in NZ-wide drug busts

More than 2,500 people have been arrested in cannabis operations in the past six months, police have revealed. Police said they have seized and destroyed more than 130,000 cannabis plants and over 280 kilograms of dried cannabis in two six-month long, nationwide operations targeting cannabis growers and dealers.. ….. Read more

2173 school kids caught with drugs

Students were caught with drugs in 2173 incidents at school last year and the youngest child to be stood down was in year 3... 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