World-class drug and alcohol research centre opens

Tuesday, 18 November 2003

Adelaide is set to become the leading site for the coordination of drug and alcohol research and training in the Asia-Pacific region.

A new World Health Organisation (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Research in Treatment of Drug and Alcohol Problems has been opened today at the University of Adelaide by South Australian Health Minister Lea Stevens.

"This is a very exciting development which will make Adelaide a national and international focus in the field," the Minister says.

"The new centre is the first in Australia to develop culturally specific programs that can be adapted for overseas. They are already working in partnership with service providers from Indonesia, Thailand and China to develop new programs.

"Having this facility in Adelaide means we'll be a drawcard for recruiting and retaining the best drug and alcohol workers, as well as exporting our knowledge overseas.

"It also means more effective and timely services for those dealing with a substance abuse problem.

"The WHO Centre is a joint effort between the University of Adelaide and Drug and Alcohol Services Council (DASC).

"DASC was actually invited by the World Health Organisation to establish the centre because they recognised the good work already being done by DASC.

"The centre's work will provide important linkages and support to the recently announced State Government funding package of $6 million for 14 initiatives identified by the delegates at the SA Drugs Summit in June 2002 and the $12 million provided for the initial 21 Drug Summit initiatives in December 2002.

"A major focus of last year's Drugs Summit was amphetamines and so- called 'dance party drugs' and I'm pleased to see that the WHO Centre will also have a strong focus on this.

"It's about developing the theory and then putting it into practice in a clinical setting. It is also about treating people early.

"Alcohol and drug workers and their clients will benefit from research trials and the subsequent implementation of treatment advances and further enhance demand reduction methods in South Australia.

"The Centre will develop and utilise quality-training packages to help primary health care providers such as GPs, to identify and respond to illicit drug use.

"DASC's benchmark work in drug substitution will also be picked-up by the centre so other international sites can benefit from the research.

"Other areas of activity that are already being progressed by the Centre include:

  • Support for the Cochrane Collaborative Review Group on Drugs and Alcohol, an international effort assessing research evidence on interventions for the problematic use of drugs and alcohol;
  • Development of a brief questionnaire as a simple method of screening for harmful drug use. The screening tool is designed for use by primary health care workers and will be linked to a brief intervention to help risky substance users cut down or stop drug use and so avoid the harmful consequences;
  • Coordination of and participation in a WHO drug substitution project which will help to increase the efficacy and the cost effectiveness of drug substitution treatment programs.

"Links between government, non-government and community-based agencies with an interest in evidence-based drug treatment practices will also benefit from the WHO centre, as recommended by delegates at the Drugs Summit," the Minister says.

Minister Stevens will be hosting the National Ministerial Drug Meeting in Adelaide this Friday.


Contact Details

Associate Professor Robert Ali
Director of the WHO Collaborating
Business: +61 8 8313 8058

Stuart Dignam
Media Adviser to Health Minister Lea Stevens
Business: +61 422 006 648