Grog Watch

the-top Issue #5  February  2013  



FASD 'spectacularly higher' in young offenders



Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) was one of a number of neurodevelopmental disorders highlighted in a new report found by the Children’s Commissioner of England to be “spectacularly higher” in young people in custody. Compared with a background prevalence of approximately 0.1- 5 % amongst young people in the general population, FASD was noted to affect 10.9 – 11.7 % of young people in custody.


The report concluded …“Our findings call into question whether a criminal justice system that commits young people with neuro-disability to custody is a fair and just system if those young people are affected in such a way that they do not understand the consequences of their actions, nor have the cognitive capacity to instruct solicitors, and furthermore if their neuro-disability and their associated needs are not identified, recognised or responded to, such that interventions and sentences serve to further criminalise rather than to offer support”. 


According to New Zealand’s Principal Youth Judge Andrew Becroft… “The real question is whether in New Zealand, as is clearly recommended by the Children’s Commissioner of England, the time has come to provide a comprehensive health response to all these issues, with an emphasis on early identification and early intervention.”


Judge Becroft notes that…“in recent years, this office has been persuasively approached by groups working with young people with Specific Learning Disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and most recently Communication Disorders. It seems clear that all these issues relate to and are causative of youth offending. There is now a statutory mandate that all those involved in responding to youth offending ensure that the causes of the offending are properly addressed.


Read more from Judge Andrew Becroft here.



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The perils of alcohol marketing



Alcohol Action NZ are holding their 4th Annual Conference at Te Papa in Wellington on Thursday 7th March – 8.30am to 5.30pm. The theme this year is “The Perils of Alcohol Marketing”.

Following the passing of the Alcohol Reform Bill, the apt conference theme and excellent keynote speakers promises to deliver a stimulating and challenging day.  In the spirit of the conference theme, abstracts for short presentations (3-5 minutes) are invited that illustrate the most "evil" examples of alcohol marketing.

To download an application form, check out the programme, and register for the conference, visit the Alcohol Action NZ website.



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Women and drinking



Women have traditionally consumed less alcohol than men but experience damage at lower levels of consumption. Recently, media attention has focused on what they have described as the ‘problem’ of women’s alcohol consumption, with a suggestion that women are drinking more, at a younger age, and that women’s use and abuse of alcohol is converging with men’s.


While evidence is emerging that there has been a significant shift in women’s drinking toward heavier use, the data are limited and very ad hoc making it difficult to analyse trends. Given the gaps in our knowledge about women and alcohol in New Zealand, the strong media interest, and the current lack of any strategic policy framework, the conditions are set for uninformed public discussion and debate. 


A new comprehensive briefing paper, funded by the Ministry of Health and commissioned by Alcohol Healthwatch and Women’s Health Action, summarises research that addresses this knowledge gap.


Click to read the complete report 






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New research on drinking and pregnancy rates



The results of a University of Otago study of drinking rates among 723 post-partum New Zealand women has just been published. The women from multiple maternity wards across the north and south Island, completed a retrospective self-administered anonymous questionnaire. Eighty-two percent of women reported consuming alcohol prior to pregnancy and 20% reported typically consuming more than 4 New Zealand standard drinks per occasion.

Overall, 34% of women reported drinking at sometime during pregnancy, almost one-quarter (24%) of drinkers continued to drink following pregnancy recognition and twelve percent of pregnancies were at high risk of heavy alcohol exposure in early gestation.  Read the complete report 

Wanting an app for your iPhone or iPad about FASD? Check out this one.



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Cannabis more damaging to under-18s



The message is clear – the longer you can prevent or delay the teenage use of cannabis, the better off your teens will be.


Alcohol and cannabis use by young people is a significant issue in Northland. The Youth ’07 report noted that the number of students who had tried marijuana decreased from 39% in 2001 to 27% in 2007. However, surveys of Northland students have reported current cannabis use up to double this rate.


Across the region, rates of current use rose from an average of 17% of 13 year olds to 30% for 16 year olds sampled. (Alcohol use by comparison was reported at 47% for 13 year olds rising to 82% for 16 year olds).


While it is true that kids are more likely to experiment with drugs during their teenage years, some also take to smoking cannabis to manage their anxiety or depression. Most do not realise that by doing so – they can actually make their symptoms even worse .


NZ research suggests the earlier regular cannabis use occurs and the heavier it is smoked, the more likely it is to harm development, intelligence, and achievement, while also increasing the risk of mental health problems.


The Dunedin cohort study reported that for young people who started smoking cannabis four or more times per week in their teenage years, their IQ dropped by 8 points when measured at age 13 and 38. People who did not begin using cannabis until they were adults, with fully formed brains, did not show the same declines. This decline was never recovered even if they stopped smoking at a later stage.


Recent Australian research looked into the association between teenage cannabis use and its effects by the age of 29 on those subjects. They found no causal relationship for depressive disorders but significantly increased odds of anxiety disorders – even among regular users who subsequently gave up. This raises the possibility that early cannabis exposure causes enduring mental health risks in the general cannabis using adolescent population. Cannabis use is also a very common co-diagnosis for those with other mental health issues.


Since these are identifiable risk factors, especially coupled with other social and psychological factors, there is real cause for concern that harmful patterns of use will become more prevalent amongst a small but significant number of youth in Northland.


For more information and support on cannabis issues, call the free

Alcohol Drug Helpline on 0800-787-797


check out the website


More info on cannabis


Cannabis info for health professionals


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Press pause on booze for Feb



For the third year running, New Zealanders are being challenged to give up alcohol for the month of February to raise money to support young people with alcohol and other drug problems.


Coordinator Jackson Wood said febfast 2013 is a good chance to push pause on alcohol after the busy summer celebration season. “Giving your body a break gives you a chance to reassess your relationship with alcohol after a season traditionally booze-soaked,” said Mr Wood.


One of the key messages for febfast is that alcohol doesn't need to be an intrinsic part of your enjoyment of going out for an evening or attending social event.


People who have participated in previous febfast challenges have found there are many benefits from reducing your alcohol consumption including clearer and healthier skin, weight loss and an increase in energy. Being alcohol-free for a set period also allows you the opportunity to see if you really do have a handle on your alcohol use.


If you haven’t signed up for the febfast challenge, you can always try your own month off the booze. Better still, talk with your friends and whanau and encourage them to give up with you. By joining with others, you are able to better support each other and discuss some of the issues that arise along the way.


If you have concerns about your drinking, or that of a friend or family member, call the free Alcohol Drug Helpline on 0800-787-797 for support and further advice.


You can find more information on febfast here.



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Research updates




Alcohol outlet density and police events


The results of a recent New Zealand study that explored the association between alcohol-outlet density and Police events in Manukau City show that violent offences are significantly positively associated with off-licence density and density of clubs and bars. The findings are relevant in light of potential new LAPs (Local Alcohol Plans) provided in the new Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.


Read the abstract here.


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AOD treatment



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.

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



Province-wide  alcohol rules considered.

Southland councils are some of the many considering introducing new alcohol policies to regulate the supply of alcohol within their region.

Under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, territorial authorities can choose to implement a local alcohol policy to regulate maximum opening hours and locations of off-licence premises… Nelson, Marlborough and Christchurch have also signalled their intentions to work with the new legislation and community concerns over alcohol-related problems in their areas.

Trampolines and alcohol just don't mix

"Don't drink and trampoline" and think twice about jumping on with your grandchildren, says an expert who is surprised at the number of elderly people injured each year.

About one person aged 70 or over has been injured each month for the past four years while trampolining, figures from the Accident Compensation Corporation show.

All up there have been 39,000 claims for trampoline injuries over the four years, at a cost of $13.5 million…. Read more

Stress not earthquakes driving Cantabs to drink

The Canterbury earthquakes might not have driven people to the bottle as predicted, a study suggests. However, stressed-out residents are drinking to cope with anxiety and depression.

Researchers reported that “those who have a lower capacity to positively adapt to or recover from a traumatic experience are more likely to consume alcohol to cope with negative affective states,"…. Read more

Prescription Drug Abuse At All-time High For US Teens

Researchers from the University of Colorado at Denver recently discovered that young people in the U.S. are abusing prescription pain medications at an alarming rate – 40 percent more than past generations to be exact.

Many of the adolescents have been using prescription drugs such as oxycontin, valium and vicodin. Following cannabis, prescription drug abuse is the second leading form of illegal drug use in the country. The findings of the study were recently revealed in the Journal of Adolescent Health.... Read more

Victoria releases new alcohol and drug strategy

Last month Victoria released its strategy Reducing the alcohol and drug toll: Victoria’s plan 2013-2017. This strategy outlines a whole-of-government approach to preventing and reducing harms associated with alcohol and drugs in the state of Victoria.

Specific strategies for alcohol are provided around five broad headings:

·         reducing alcohol-related violence, antisocial behaviour and drink-driving

·         effective liquor regulation

·         changing the drinking culture

·         better health promotion in education

·         better, earlier healthcare for alcohol problems


…. Read more         or click here to read the whole strategy

Study proves kids influenced by ads

The impact on children of alcohol and fast-food advertising in sports sponsorship is concerning health experts at The University of Western Australia. They have demonstrated for the first time that children are likely to be subconsciously absorbing multi-million dollar sports sponsorship messages.…. Read more

Sharp drop in drink deaths follows alcohol price rise

Increasing the minimum price of alcohol by 10 percent can lead to immediate and significant drops in drink-related deaths and may also have long-term beneficial health effects.

Canadian researchers found that deaths caused by alcohol between 2002 and 2009 in the western province of British Columbia dropped when the minimum alcohol price was increased, while alcohol-related deaths rose when more private alcohol stores were opened.... Read more

NEW - MoJ Alcohol reform newsletter

The Ministry of Justice has started a new series of monthly newsletters to keep councils up to date with the implementation of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012. The newsletters contain information on the implementation of the new alcohol laws passed at the end of 2012.... 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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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