Alcohol and other drugs: health professionals

Introduction

The information on these pages is to help policy makers, non-government organisations and health professionals  make informed decisions about alcohol and other drug issues.

Substance misuse, particularly alcohol, is having a devastating effect on entire communities and remains a key priority in the Northern Territory (NT).

The Department of Health aims to minimise the harm associated with the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, through a range of initiatives including:

  • prevention
  • education
  • policy
  • treatment
  • community action.

For general information about alcohol, drugs and tobacco go to the Northern Territory Government website.

Government commitment

High levels of alcohol and other drug misuse across the NT is damaging our way of life.

The NT Government has introduced legislation to tackle these issues and support initiatives that increase our capacity to respond through prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.

Government will work together with other agencies, the non-government sector and the community to establish coordinated responses to address the social, health and wellbeing problems resulting from substance abuse.

The peak body for the NT alcohol and other drug sector is the Association of Alcohol and Other Drug Agencies NT (AADANT).

Strategic plans

Efforts to reduce the harms from alcohol and other drug use in the NT are aligned with the following local and national strategies.

Northern Territory Sobering Up Shelters

NT Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) strategy

The NT Government has released a whole-of-government strategy titled Addressing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in the Northern Territory 2018-2024.

The NT Government is also delivering broad alcohol reforms that aim to reduce the demand, supply and harm caused by alcohol across the NT. It is anticipated that the initiatives targeting alcohol misuse across the NT will reduce population levels of consumption, and will contribute to reducing the incidence of FASD in our community.

NT Health Strategic Plan

The NT Health Strategic Plan 2014-2017 provides the corporate framework for planning for health in the NT.

The plan sets out the vision, mission, values and strategic objectives that guide all individuals and groups working to improve the health and wellbeing of Territorians. Organisational priorities are established in this framework and performance indicators and reporting requirements are set.

The following national strategies guide the NT's local response to address alcohol and other drugs issues:

Priorities

The priority areas identified for NT Health are:

  • alcohol and tobacco
  • vulnerable populations
  • an integrated approach to treatment, prevention, care and support
  • investment in health promotion
  • workforce development
  • research and evaluation.

Other substances

The impact of cannabis and methamphetamine in the Northern Territory (NT) is significant.

Other substances commonly associated with the word 'illicit' include:

  • MDMA (ecstasy)
  • cocaine
  • gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB)
  • LSD (acid)
  • heroin.

Minimising the harms requires a combination of actions to support and inform those who use drugs, their families and the alcohol and other drugs workforce.

Go to NT.GOV.AU for consumer information about:

Cannabis

The National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC), based at the University of NSW, has interactive workshops for professionals, using the latest evidenced-based information and interventions into cannabis use.

Read the changes to laws about Synthetic Cannabis fact sheet.

For more information about support to the alcohol and other drugs workforce, go to the NCPIC website.

Methamphetamine

In 2016, the Northern Territory Government launched the Ice Action Plan and the website breaktheice.nt.gov.au.

The Ice Action Plan - Tackling Ice in the Northern Territory contains whole-of-community and agency-specific activities to reduce the supply, demand and harms from crystal methamphetamine.

The website offers tools for health professionals as well a materials for schools and parents to speak with young people about the harms of crystal methamphetamine.

This aims to increase community and health sector understanding about the effects of drug use, targeting those most at risk as well as improving access to telephone information, counselling and follow-up services.

Legislation

The Misuse of Drugs Act provides for the laws relating to the use and supply of illicit drugs.

Read the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Read the Misuse of Drugs Regulations.

Kava

Go to the Northern Territory Government website for general information about kava.

Legislation

The Kava Management Act prohibits and regulates the cultivation, manufacture, production, possession and supply of kava.

Read the Kava Management Act.

Read the Kava Management Regulations.

Legal medications

The NT also has high rates of people who misuse pharmaceutical drugs that have been originally prescribed to them, or to other people, for legitimate purposes.

Read more about medicines and poisons control and pharmacy.

Legislation

Read the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act

Read the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulations.


Reporting: Alcohol and other drugs

The Northern Territory (NT) participates in a number of local and national reporting collaborations that provide valuable research into drug use and services for people affected by drug use.

Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set 

The National Minimum Data Set (NMDS) provides information on the treatment provided by publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies in Australia. 

Go to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare website.

National Opioid Pharmacotherapy Statistics Annual Data

The National Opioid Pharmacotherapy Statistics Annual Data (NOPSAD) collects data on a snapshot day in June. 

Information is collected on clients receiving opioid pharmacotherapy treatment, the doctors prescribing opioid pharmacotherapy drugs, and the dosing points (such as pharmacies) where clients get medication.

Go to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare website.

Australian Secondary School Survey on Alcohol and Drugs

The Australian Secondary Students’ Alcohol and Drug Survey is conducted every three years and assesses use of tobacco, alcohol, over-the-counter medications and illicit substances from approximately 25,000 secondary students aged between 12 and 17.

Go to the Australian Government's National Drug Strategy website.

Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) and Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System (ERDS)

Each year, the Department of Health in collaboration with the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at the University of New South Wales, conducts the Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) survey, and the Ecstasy Drug Reporting System (EDRS) survey for the NT.

National and Jurisdictional reports are available from the NDARC website.

National Drug Strategy Household Survey

Conducted every three years, the National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) collects information on alcohol and tobacco consumption, and illicit drug use among the general population in Australia.

It also surveys people’s attitudes and perceptions relating to tobacco, alcohol and other drug use.

Go to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare website.


Service delivery

Alcohol and other drug education, prevention and treatment services are delivered through a range of government and non-government services.

Service Development

The Mental Health Alcohol and Other Drugs Service Development and Quality oversees funding for non-government alcohol and other drug (AOD) services through the Department of Health's Grants Management System.

After agreements are signed, a Services Development Officer helps the external service provider meet its contractual obligations and evaluates its performance.

Resources for non-government mental health, alcohol and other drugs services

Remote Alcohol and Other Drugs Workforce Program

The Remote AOD Workforce Program was started in 2007 following a report on violence in Indigenous communities and sits within Aboriginal Medical Services and the Department of Health.

The program covers 32 communities across the Northern Territory (NT) with over 90% of the workforce identifying as Indigenous.

Top End Health Service (TEHS)

Top End Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs Service (TEMHAODS) TEMHAODS provides individualised, coordinated and effective health assessment, case management and recovery focused treatment services, and develops prevention, promotion and early intervention strategies in collaboration with other agencies.

TEMHAODS have integrated their service delivery structure to maximise patient continuity, reduce duplication and complication of service access points, enhance service integration and ultimately provide a better outcome for the patient.

Go to the Northern Territory Government website to read about Top End Mental Health Services locations.

Central Australia Health Service (CAHS)

Alcohol and Drug Services Central Australia (ADSCA) provides a non-residential counselling service, home detoxification services, community development and nationally accredited training courses.

The service offers specialised assessment, treatment and referral of people using or affected by the range of alcohol and other drugs.


Tobacco

This information is for health professionals. For information for members of the general public please go to smoking and tobacco and your health


NT Health supports population-level tobacco control strategies including:

  • education, compliance and enforcement of the Tobacco Control Act 2002
  • social marketing activities and public health warning campaigns
  • remote and Aboriginal community education, prevention, engagement and cessation support programs
  • Quitline telephone counselling service and Quit group counselling services.

Tobacco Control Act 2002

The Tobacco Control Act 2002 aims to minimise the harms from smoking through:

  • restricting smoking in certain public places and workplaces
  • regulating the packaging, advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products
  • removing  tobacco products from display
  • regulating the conduct of premises at which tobacco products are sold
  • prohibiting the sale and supply of tobacco products to children.

The Act was amended in 2019 to include electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and their accessories as regulated products. Like traditional tobacco products, the sale of e-cigarettes requires a Tobacco Retail Licence and the same restrictions that apply to the sale and consumption of tobacco applies to e-cigarettes.

Department of Health smoke free policy

The Smoke Free Policy is about providing a safe work environment for staff, protecting patients and visitors from environmental tobacco smoke, and providing help for staff and patients to quit smoking.

Tobacco Action Plan 2019-2023

Key documents:

The Tobacco Action Plan for the Northern Territory is a commitment to the prevention and reduction of tobacco related harm and commits to the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health (NPAPH) benchmarks.

This document will reflect activities targeted at high risk and vulnerable groups in our community including:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • young people
  • people with mental illness
  • women who smoke in pregnancy.

The action plan will guide the activities of NT Health.

For more information, contact the Mental Health Alcohol and Other Drugs Branch on (08) 8999 2691, or email MHAOD.DoH@nt.gov.au


Volatile substances

Volatile substances include petrol, solvents and aerosols that when inhaled can cause significant side effects, as well as damage to the brain.

Go to the Northern Territory (NT) Government website for information about the health effects of volatile substances.

A Volatile Substance Management Area can be declared in a community to control the possession, supply, use and storage of inhalants.

Legislation

The Volatile Substance Abuse Prevention Act 2005 (the Act) provides a comprehensive and systematic approach for the prevention, early intervention and treatment of volatile substance use in the Northern Territory.

The Act was introduced in response to community concerns about volatile substance use. The object of the Act is to support child, family and social welfare and improve the health of people in the NT by providing a legislative framework for:

  1. The prevention of volatile substance use; and
  2. The protection of persons, particularly children, from harm resulting from volatile substance use.

The main areas of the Act are:

  • Prevention of inhalation and protecting the health and safety of individuals;
  • Assessment and treatment of individuals at risk of severe harm; and
  • Community management of the possession, supply and use of volatile substances.

Read the Volatile Substance Abuse Prevention Act.

Assessment for treatment with an approved program

Under the Act, applying for an assessment for someone who may be at severe risk of harm from volatile substance use is not mandatory. Wherever possible, a person who is at risk should be encouraged to seek medical advice and/or treatment voluntarily.

Where the person is not willing to enter into treatment voluntarily, the Act, states that the following people may apply to an assessor/assessment team for an assessment of the person:

  1. Police officers or authorised persons
  2. Health practitioners - i.e. a medical practitioner or person registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (other than as a student) as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners, nurses or midwives
  3. A member of the family of the person believed to be at risk
  4. A responsible adult for a child believed to be at risk
  5. Any other employee approved by the Health Minister. This currently includes:
    • School Principals
    • Advanced Practitioners (P2 level) employed by Territory Families

Access the Request for Assessment under the Volatile Substance Abuse Prevention Act Form.

The assessment process

Under the Act, assessment of a person includes a comprehensive assessment of one or both of the following:

  1. The person’s condition (which may include their physical, neurological and mental condition);
  2. The person’s circumstances (which may include their lifestyle, environment and relationships with others).

Assessment therefore, is required to have a holistic approach with Assessors ensuring that the person’s physical, mental health, cognitive and other risk assessments are undertaken.

Assessors must exercise and perform their powers and functions in accordance the assessment guideline, issued by the Chief Health Officer.

Read the Volatile Substance Use Assessment Guideline

Community management

Under the Act, residents and community councils can request that the Health Minister declares a place a management area and approves a management plan.

This controls the possession, sale and supply, use and storage of volatile substances that cause harm.

People who live in or visit communities with  Volatile Substance Management Plans should be aware of and comply with these rules.

Read the Community Management of Possession, Supply and use of Volatile Substances Guideline.

Visiting a Volatile Substance Management Area

Even if a management plan is not in force where people may live, visit or work, it is important to use volatile substances responsibly:

  • use low aromatic fuel when and where available
  • if low aromatic is not available use a lockable fuel cap or diesel-powered equipment
  • secure inhalants and fuel-powered equipment
  • lock up aerosols, glues and other substances that may be abused
  • remove or safely dispose of all glues, paints, aerosols and other inhalants when leaving the community.

Contractors who plan to visit and work at communities should read the Contractors Guide for Visiting Communities.

The maximum penalty for contravening a management plan is 100 penalty units or six months imprisonment.

Forms

Communities

The communities listed below have a declared management area, some also have approved management plans.

Top End

DistrictCommunity
Darwin

Gunbalanya

Kakadu

East Arnhem

Gapuwiyak

Galiwin'ku 

Milingimbi

Numbulwar

Ramingining

Yirrkala

Katherine

Beswick (Wugularr)

Jilkminggan

Kalano

Wadeye

Weemol

Walangeri

Central Australia

DistrictCommunity

Barkly

Alpurrurulam

Ali Curung

Alice Springs

Hoppy's Camp

Ikuntji

Kaltukatjara

Kintore

Mount Liebig

Ntaria

Papunya

Yarrenyty Arltere (Larapinta)

More information

See below for organisations addressing inhalant misuse or go to the NT Government website for information about NT drug rehabilitation services.

DescriptionLocation

The Top End Health Service and Central Australia Health Service have primary responsibility for the delivery of clinical services components of the Volatile Substance Abuse Prevention Act.

This includes assessment of referrals, treatment options and aftercare.

 

Amity Community Services  is a non-government organisation currently leading a project to reduce the health and social harms associated with volatile substance misuse in the Top End region of the NT.

Call (08) 8944 6565
Go to the Amity website.

The Central Australian Youth Link-Up Service (CAYLUS)  is a local non-government organisation.

CAYLUS supports communities in Central Australia to prevent and respond to inhalant abuse, through community development initiatives such as youth diversion programs and rehabilitation services, supply reduction strategies and casework.

Call (08) 8951 4236 or go to the CAYLUS website.

Youth Grants Program: Alcohol and Other Drugs

Alcohol and Other Drugs Youth Grants Program 2021–22

The Northern Territory Government (NTG) facilitates the strategic policy and planning agenda for alcohol and other drugs in the Northern Territory in partnership with health services, non-government organisations and consumers. This grant round aims to minimise harm associated with the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, including volatile substances, through a range of prevention, education and community action initiatives.

Funding is available up to $20,000 for individual projects/initiatives.

The area of focus for the 2021-22 funding:

  • Collaborative community projects that provide opportunities for young people to prevent the misuse of alcohol and other drugs and focus on healing and strengthening connection to culture.

Applications need to incorporate the focus area, need to demonstrate activities which are consistent with the National Drug Strategy 2017-2026 and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Drug Strategy 2014-2019. Projects/initiatives must be specifically for the Northern Territory.

Applications are open through the GrantsNT website, from Monday 6 September and close Friday 1 October 2021.

Who can apply?

The opportunity to apply for a one-off grant is now available to:

  • Community groups
  • Non-government organisations
  • Local councils
  • Sole trader and partnerships

How do I apply?

  1. Visit https://grantsnt.nt.gov.au/
  2. Login or Register for an Account.
  3. Please insure you are applying under your organisation profile.
  4. Search for Alcohol and Other Drugs Youth Grants and hit the apply button at the bottom.

When are applications due?

Applications must be submitted by 3pm by Friday 1 October 2021. Late applications will not be accepted.

How are applications assessed?

An evaluation panel will assess and discuss each application received and will consider the following factors:

  • How the project or activity will benefit our community’s youth.
  • How the project or activity provides new or enhanced opportunities for young people to prevent the misuse of alcohol and other drugs.
  • How the project or activity will offer a focus on healing and strengthening connection to culture.
  • The project or activity is supported within the community.
  • The project demonstrates activities which are consistent with the National Drug Strategy 2017-2026, and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Drug Strategy 2014-2019.
  • Projects/initiatives must be specifically for the Northern Territory.
  • Previous successful delivery and reporting of funded projects.

You will be notified of the outcome of the application within four weeks of the closing date. The evaluation panel may decide to partially fund a project/activity, depending on the content and quality of the application received.

A failure to receive funding does not necessarily mean your application or project is not worthwhile. There is a high demand across the Northern Territory for grant funding and this means that some may miss out.

If your application is successful

Successful applicants will be required to sign a letter grant agreement between the organisation and NT Health. Successful applicants will be required to acknowledge the support of the NTG through the use of the NTG logo on all promotional materials e.g. promotional advertisements, press releases, signage at events and/or other material as appropriate. A digital copy of the logo can be supplied on request.

Evaluation

At the end of your project, we will require a report on your successes and challenges, along with photos of the work you’ve done and the outcomes. We want to hear about what didn’t work as planned, what you would do differently and any learnings from doing the project.

Reporting

Successful applicants will be required to submit an Alcohol and Other Drugs Youth Grants Program 2021-22 acquittal report within three months of the project’s completion.

Contact

For further information contact phone (08) 8999 2691 or email MHAOD.DOH@nt.gov.au


Contacts: Alcohol and other drugs

For clinicians

Clinicians: call DACAS on 1800 812 804. The Drug and Alcohol Clinical Advisory Service has a 24-hour seven-day telephone service providing advice to health professionals on the clinical management of drug and alcohol issues.

For all other queries

NamePhone

Top End

  • AOD Treatment and Community Services
  • NT Mental Health Hotline

(08) 8922 8399
1800 682 288

Central Australia

  • Alcohol and Drug Services Central Australia
  • NT Mental Health Hotline

(08) 8951 7580
1800 682 288

Alcohol Drug Information Service (ADIS)

  • 24/7 alcohol and drug support line
1800 131 350

Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Unit

(08) 8922 8874

Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs Branch

  • Policy
  • Service Development
  • Accredited training
(08) 8999 2691