New Farm Clinic
Part of Ramsay Health Care

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New health program targets alcohol and drug addiction

Oct 04, 2019

The inner-city mental health service New Farm Clinic has launched its first in-patient alcohol and prescription drug program as demand for addiction treatments continues to rise.

The Ramsay Health Care centre program is run over two weeks in a dedicated 10-bed unit but New Farm Clinic Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Craig said there were already plans to expand the service to meet the growing need.

“Demand for addiction services is out-stripping supply in Brisbane,” Mr Craig said.

“Opioid use has become a major problem and alcohol continues to be a serious issue for many people.

“An in-patient program ensures people are receiving treatment for the underlying mental health issue that has led to their addiction, rather than treating the behaviour in isolation.”

Announcing the program to coincide with Queensland Mental Health Week (October 5 – 13), program director and addiction medicine specialist Dr David Storor said middle-aged women had become the biggest binge-drinkers in the country.

“Women aged in their fifties are now more likely to drink at risky levels than women in the 18 to 24-year age group ,” Dr Storor said.

“Binge drinking is subliminally promoted as acceptable.

“Big advertising billboards show women laughing and enjoying life while knocking back a glass of chardonnay. But, for some people, this becomes a life-altering problem.

“Alcohol accounts for more treatment episodes in Australia than any other drug.”

The in-patient program is followed by an eight-week out-patient program which helps patients transition back to their daily lives and manage any relapses along with a new app called MyStayWell which allows patients to access coping strategies and support mechanisms after they leave the clinic

Dr Storor said alcohol and drug addiction often went hand in hand with mental health issues.

“More than two thirds of people with a drug or alcohol problem also struggle with anxiety and depression,” he said.

“That’s why it is essential that any treatment program addresses underlying mental health issues at the same time as the addiction.”

More than 7 million Australians aged 16 to 85 will experience a common mental health disorder during their lifetime.

Ramsay Health Care Mental Health Chair Kevin Cass-Ryall said there has been a gradual increase in the number of older people (65+ years) and younger people (16+ years) seeking assistance for a mental health condition.

“Patients want more specialised treatment and a more holistic approach to their recovery, along with a care regime that draws on a multidisciplinary team,” he said.

“They are also increasingly looking for ways to receive treatment outside hospital to remove the need for them to stay overnight in a clinic. Ramsay is focusing on expanding in this area.”

Ramsay Health Care, Australia’s largest private provider of acute mental health services has compiled a list of its five most commonly treated mental health disorders to help raise awareness of the conditions:

1. Mood disorders Comprise 45 per cent of all patients treated.
Includes depression, bipolar disorder, dysthymia and other disorders characterised by the elevation or lowering of mood.
2. Addictions Comprise 25 per of all patients treated.
Physical and emotional dependence on substances or behaviours which may include drugs, alcohol, gambling and/or gaming.
3. Anxiety Disorders Comprise 15 per cent of all patients treated.
Symptoms can include muscular tension, heart palpitations, inability to concentrate, sleep or undertake normal activities and a feeling of intense fear and persistent and excessive worry.
(Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
Comprise 10 per cent of all patients treated.
A set of stress reactions in response to experiencing witnessing a life-threatening event such as an attack or assault, wartime conflict, natural disaster or serious accident. Symptoms may include re-experiencing the traumatic event, avoidance of any reminders, hyper-vigilance and feeling emotionally numb.
5. Psychotic Disorders Comprise 5 per cent of all patients treated.
An impaired interpretation of reality commonly associated with hallucinations and delusions

Source: Ramsay Health Care