NIAA Drug and Alcohol Policy: General Overview
19 October, 2023
The National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) seeks to recognise and empower the First People across Australia. The NIAA drug and alcohol policy aims to reflect the priorities and perspectives of Indigenous people while improving their health and overall well-being. It uses strategies such as demand reduction, supply reduction, and harm reduction. Demand reduction reduces the appeal of substance use. Meanwhile, supply reduction controls the price and limits the availability of the substances. Lastly, harm reduction implements laws to lessen accidents.
There may be different rules depending on the territory the individual is located in. This allows for the implementation of specific approaches to provide targeted solutions. One of the main approaches for prevention is through education. Awareness of the symptoms of substance abuse can help early intervention. This article will provide an overview of the NIAA, its three pillars for reducing substance abuse, and the testing methods for detecting substance use.
NIAA Drug and Alcohol Policy: What is NIAA
The NIAA was established on May 29, 2019. It was created by an Executive Order signed by the Governor-General. One of its functions is leading and coordinating Commonwealth policy development and implementation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The priority of the NIAA drug and alcohol policy is to handle the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol on these people. Ultimately, they seek to improve the lives of First Nations people in Australia.
These policies have effects that manifest in the health, well-being, and community safety of the area. To do this, the NIAA coordinates with government and non-government entities to reduce damaging drug and alcohol use. They provide advice to the government regarding policies for Aboriginal people. Moreover, they aim to prevent crime, reduce violence, and promote safe environments.
Furthermore, they help maintain access to social support programs and essential services. They help provide treatment to First Persons in coordination with other government entities such as the Department of Health and Aged Care. They also contribute to research regarding the medical treatments of indigenous people.
Treatment and Recovery for Substance Misuse
Treatment and recovery plans for those suffering from alcohol and drug misuse vary from patient to patient. The length and level of risk during treatment depend on various factors. This includes the substance dependence and health condition of the individual. These are the two strategies commonly implemented during treatment and rehabilitation:
- Detoxification involves removing the substance from the body. It is done through slow or abrupt cessation of substance consumption.
- Behavioural therapy involves counselling and support groups to discourage relapse. Over time, the patient can also regularly have check-ups to determine if they have relapsed.
NIAA Drug and Alcohol Policy: Three Pillars
The NIAA drug and alcohol policy seeks to support programs for the physical and mental health of Indigenous Australians. Australia is a federation of five states and two territories. These places have their local government and enact different substance policies. This allows for a more targeted approach to address problems caused by substance misuse.
The overall approach to reducing substance use caused harm lies in three pillars. These are demand reduction, supply reduction, and harm reduction. Firstly, demand reduction aims to reduce the appeal of substance use. This involves using preventive strategies such as substance use education and early intervention. Moreover, it provides treatment options like counselling to reduce relapse rates.
Secondly, supply reduction aims to reduce the availability of drugs and alcohol. It involves alcohol bans and restricting hours and places where these substances are sold. It also controls the price of substances and the minimum purchase age for them. Lastly, harm reduction utilises community patrols, sobering-up shelters, and drink-driving laws to prevent accidents that harm the community.
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan is the national policy that aims to improve the health and well-being of the First People across Australia. It is a ten-year plan from 2021 to 2031 focusing on preventing health issues and strengthening the community.
Moreover, it provides the mechanisms necessary to provide culturally safe and responsive care. It is made in partnership with Indigenous people to reflect their priorities and perspectives. It aims to provide Aboriginal people with knowledge that enables them to make healthy decisions. Lastly, it works to provide healthcare that is place-based, person-centred, and culturally safe and responsive.
NIAA Drug and Alcohol Policy: Methods of Testing Substance Use
To support the NIAA drug and alcohol policy, several methods are available for testing substance use. The urine test is the most common method of testing. It involves using a urine sample to determine the drugs and alcohol consumed. It can hold traces for up to 72 hours after heavy alcohol consumption. The saliva test is another convenient option to test for substance use. Saliva allows for detection up to 12 hours after use.
Moreover, the hair follicle test detects substance use for up to 90 days. However, it is expensive and typically requires 100-200 strands of hair on the scalp. Similarly, blood tests are also costly, but they provide the most accuracy. It commonly has a detection of up to 12 hours. However, some types of blood tests like PEth and CDT offer two to four weeks of detection.
Lastly, a breath test is used for detecting the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels. Police officers used breathalysers during roadside tests. Additionally, workplaces use them during employment, including upon suspicion of substance misuse. It detects traces of alcohol for up to 24 hours.
Symptoms of Substance Use
Several symptoms indicate alcohol and drug misuse. Knowing these symptoms can aid in providing early intervention and preventing accidents. The foremost symptom is hard-to-ignore cravings for the substance. These thoughts are disruptive and reduce productivity. Moreover, continuous consumption leads to developing tolerance. This then leads to overconsumption as they lose control of their intake.
Another sign is disregard for work, home, or school responsibilities. This forms strained social and familial relationships. This disregard also applies to their health and increases risky behaviours such as drink driving. Finally, withdrawal symptoms like fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, or seizures after reducing or stopping intake of liquors or drugs.
The NIAA drug and alcohol policy is implemented through the cooperation of government and non-government entities. The strategies they implement must reflect the priorities of the Indigenous people. Furthermore, they must be culturally safe and responsible. The Aboriginal people know the best approaches for their people. Thus, incorporating their inputs into the policy improves the well-being and health of Aboriginal peoples across Australia.
Substance misuse has many social and health effects on Indigenous Australians. It increases their risks of health conditions such as anxiety, depression, cancers, lung diseases, and heart diseases. Moreover, it makes people more prone to risky behaviours such as drink driving and violence. Some may benefit from having personal breathalysers to monitor their alcohol consumption. BACtrack breathalysers from Breathalysers Australia are accurate and reliable devices with police-grade sensors. Furthermore, they are convenient and easy to use anytime.