Kia ora Koutou.


This end of year edition features a number of very important reports and policy documents worthy of printing off for a more leisurely read over the holidays. Whilst the Alcohol Law Reform Bill wasn’t what many hoped for, there will be many opportunities to lobby local Councils for changes you would like to see in your community around how alcohol is sold and promoted.


Also featured are a number of studies and papers on alcohol and pregnancy. With a growing number of women drinking to hazardous levels, the lifetime consequences of drinking whilst pregnant are increasingly being documented.


Keep safe this summer and remember if celebrating not to make alcohol the only focus of your festivities.


Meri Kirihimete ki a koe me te whānau,  dave



Grog Watch

the-top Issue #4  December  2012  



Alcohol Law reform - where to now?



Health and community workers are among the many who have expressed “great disappointment” with the final Bill passed in Parliament. Despite a huge number of submissions to both the Law Commission and the Select Committee, many professionals who deal with the fall-out from alcohol-related harm feel that the reforms did not go far enough in attempting to turn the tide on the harmful binge drinking culture that affects more than 700,000 heavy drinkers in New Zealand.

Choosing not to enact some key recommendations of the Law Commission’s report, the Government has put much of the responsibility for change back into the domain of local bodies and on parents. But in doing so, the new Alcohol Law Reform Bill “totally fails the majority of New Zealanders who want action on the country’s heavy drinking problems,” according to a press release from lobby group, Alcohol Action. They assert… “the New Zealand public are now aroused by the need for alcohol reform, which will only be further strengthened by this debacle in Parliament” and that “the campaign for effective alcohol law reform will go on.”

Click here to read more comment and ways you can still remain involved in working for change from Alcohol Action.



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Kaitaia ED tackling alcohol-related harm



Alcohol fuelled assaults, falls and vehicle crashes place additional strain on an already stretched Kaitaia Emergency Department. Northland DHB in partnership with Alcohol Drug Helpline and ALAC are working together to reduce alcohol-related harm and to offer people support.

“From the 1st of November Kaitaia Emergency Department staff will be asking patients presenting with an injury, if they have consumed alcohol prior to the injury”, explains Rachel Thompson, Associate Clinical Nurse Manager.  “If the answer is yes they will be asked if they would like support from the Alcohol Drug Helpline.”

 Clients referred to the Helpline will be offered a range of support options and strategies, around their alcohol use, including harm minimisation and avoiding relapses. Those requiring more intensive treatment will be referred to Northland Mental Health and Addiction services.


Click here for more info on the Kaitaia ED project.



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From harm to harmony



The two day symposium - From Harm to Harmony - was held in Auckland on 13th and 14th November 2012. The event had a special focus on addressing the impacts of alcohol on the lives of women, and the burden of alcohol-related injuries and violence in New Zealand.

 More than 150 participants from across the country discussed findings from investigations into the impact of alcohol on women’s health, and the impact of alcohol on injuries and violence in New Zealand.

Alcohol Healthwatch Director Rebecca Williams says the investigations have found deep cause for concern with astonishingly high levels of poor health outcomes, violence and injury related to alcohol consumption in New Zealand. This is affecting not only the drinker but those around them, particularly women and children.

“We have found indications that the patterns of drinking among some women have become more harmful. This significantly increases their risk of problems from alcohol,” Williams says.

Copies of the presentations can be found on the Alcohol Healthwatch website – click here.






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BABIES + BOOZE – An FASD Youth Social Media Awareness Campaign



The risk to unborn babies from alcohol has been making headlines for decades but Kiwis don’t seem to be heeding the warnings. At least 50 percent of women think that drinking some alcohol during pregnancy is safe and 80 percent of teen pregnancies are alcohol exposed, according to New Zealand surveys.

Determined to do something about this, the Rotary Club of Parnell teamed up with two community organisations, Well Women’s & Family Trust and Alcohol Healthwatch Trust to turn this situation around.


“Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a hidden and very misunderstood disability and it can be difficult for young women to make the link between social drinking and future harm to their child”, says Christine Rogan from Alcohol Healthwatch’s Fetal Alcohol Network, who worked on the project. Not to drink during pregnancy is an important message that needs to spread far and wide,” she says.


After consulting with communities and young people, the BABIES + BOOZE Youth Social Media Awareness Campaign was born. Youth were involved in the design and production of a social media resource, filming and performing in the videos. Their video material is accompanied on You-tube by discussion of the risk of drinking alcohol during pregnancy by Auckland Neonatologist Dr Simon Rowley as wells as poignant recollections of two birth mothers, whose drinking during pregnancy had an adverse effect on their children.



The You-Tube videos can be accessed from here.



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Warning labels a must for alcohol



While the range of lower strength alcoholic drinks in NZ is very small, a report exploring the potential of such products to reduce alcohol-related harm has been produced by the Liverpool John Moores University (JMU) Centre for Public Health.


The report suggests that if lower strength drinks result in 'substitution' for higher strength drinks there can be potential public health benefits. However it also identifies 'addition' as a likely affect, whereby lower strength drinks result in an increased number of situations where alcohol is consumed. The report concludes that encouraging production and consumption of lower alcohol products in a single product category is unlikely to maximise effects on population level harms.


A challenge for NZ liquor producers is offer lower strength products across the board, instead of the current trend towards higher strength RTDs and boutique (generally stronger) beers and ciders that increase the risk of intoxication.


 Click to read the complete report 


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Alcohol, Injuries and Violence- Policy Briefing Paper



To better understand the extent of the alcohol-related burden of injuries and to inform alcohol harm prevention efforts in New Zealand, Alcohol Healthwatch has undertaken two literature reviews canvassing both international and national literature. The reviews aimed to collate and summarise available evidence on:


1. The risks and contextual factors influencing alcohol-related injuries

2. The patterns and trends of injury outcomes

3. What works to prevent alcohol-related injuries


This briefing paper provides a context to the issues, presents a summary of these reviews, discusses issues emerging and proposes recommendations to enhance efforts to prevent alcohol-related injuries and violence in Aotearoa New Zealand. The paper is for those with an interest in reducing alcohol-related harm in New Zealand, in particular those who are responsible for developing policy, plans and programmes to achieve this aim.


 Click to read the complete report  


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Women and Alcohol in Aotearoa  -

new Zealand



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 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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AOD treatment news



Alistair Dunn has been a GP at Bush Rd Med Centre in Kamo for many years, but some of you may not know he also works for the DHB as an Addiction Medicine Specialist. For an update from Alistair in his role in the Community Mental Health & Addictions Service, (now also located at Three Mile Bush Rd, Kamo, formerly in Norfolk Street), click here.


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.

Alistair Dunn has been a GP at Bush Rd Med Centre in Kamo for many years, but some of you may not know he also works for the DHB as an Addiction Medicine Specialist. Here is an update from Alistair in his role in the Community Mental Health & Addictions Service, (now also located at Three Mile Bush Rd, Kamo, formerly in Norfolk Street).

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



Australian FASD inquiry prompts call to action in NZ

Following its inquiry the Social Policy and Legal Affairs Committee of the Australian Parliament released its report in Parliament. The report recognises the devastating effects of FASD on Australian society, and the importance of responding more effectively and with urgency. It addresses issues such as alcohol warning labels; current drinking guidelines; FASD awareness; diagnostic services; and Government support for people with FASD. The report also contains recommendations for a national strategy to prevent, diagnose and manage FASD.

Alcohol Healthwatch calls on the New Zealand Government to take note of the Parliamentary inquiry into Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in Australia, and to action the 19 recommendations set out in the resulting report in New Zealand….Read more

Passenger charged after letting drunk mate drive

Allowing a drunk, drugged or disqualified driver to drive your vehicle will result in serious charges, say Canterbury police, who have vowed to come down hard on the problem.

Canterbury road policing manager Inspector Al Stewart said many vehicle owners were not aware they were criminally liable for allowing drunk drivers to use their cars. "This is serious stuff. If you knowingly allow a person who is incapable of having proper control of your vehicle to take it out on the roads and place all other road users in danger, you are as liable as the driver."…. Read more

Scientists find gene link to teenage binge drinking

Scientists have unpicked the brain processes involved in teenage alcohol abuse and say their findings help explain why some young people have more of a tendency to binge drink.

A study published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal found that a gene known as RASGRF-2 plays a crucial role in controlling how alcohol stimulates the brain to release dopamine, triggering feelings of reward.… Read more

Girls take lead in teen binge-drinking - study

Young teenage girls are now slightly more likely to binge-drink than boys of the same age. A survey by Massey University's Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation (Shore) public health unit has found that among 16-17-year-old drinkers, 28 per cent of girls against 25 per cent of boys drank at least eight standard drinks in a typical drinking session last year.... Read more

Moderate drinking in pregnancy 'harms IQ'

Drinking one or two glasses of wine a week during pregnancy can have an impact on a child's IQ, a study says.

Researchers from Oxford and Bristol universities looked at the IQ scores of 4,000 children as well as recording the alcohol intake of their mothers. They found "moderate" alcohol intake of one to six units a week during pregnancy affected IQ. Experts said the effect was small, but reinforced the need to avoid alcohol in pregnancy…. Read more         or click here to read the study

Drink brands attract underage followers on Facebook

ALCOHOL companies are turning to social media to encourage teenagers to drink. A study has found that brands popular among youths are increasingly harnessing sites like Facebook to broaden their reach.

A report this month by social media analysts Online Circle found that 11 Australian alcohol brands averaged more than 100,000 followers. It also found that the alcoholic drinks industry was one of the fastest growing sectors in terms of Facebook followers, increasing its total fan base by almost 8 per cent from September to October this year…. 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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