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Nursing People with Addictions Seminar

  • : Surry Hills NSW 2010

Includes: Assessing addictive behaviour; Withdrawal and detox; Harm reduction and resources; Pharmaceutical misuse; Communicating with people with addictions; and much more...



Nurses are in contact with people suffering from substance use and dependence in a variety of healthcare settings. This is often associated with a multitude of complex acute and chronic problems, either as a by-product of the person’s dependence or as a contributing factor. Attend this highly interactive seminar and find out:

  • The brain and substance abuse
  • What tips the scales towards dependency?
  • How can you assess addictive behaviour?
  • What is best evidence treatment?
  • Withdrawal management
  • Harm reduction and resources
  • Pharmaceutical misuse
  • Communicating effectively with people who engage in substance misuse


Need for Program

Alcohol and other substance misuse are now considered a major public health problem. Nurses in a range of specialities and settings are very likely to come into contact with people who have become addicted to one or more of the variety of substances of dependence. The consequences for the individual, and the community are significant. It has been estimated that the annual economic cost of alcohol and illicit drug misuse to Australian society is $23.7 billion. Understanding addiction, how it affects people and those around them, and the latest principles of effective management is essential to recovery of people who suffer from addictions and to minimise harm.

Purpose of Program

The purpose of this seminar is to provide nurses with knowledge and skills that can be implemented in all encounters with people who have become dependent on legal or illicit substances of dependence.

Your Learning Outcomes

  • Use essential evidence-based knowledge and assessment skills during any patient encounter for the early recognition of and responses for people who are suffering from an addiction
  • Understand the physiology and psychology of behaviours, emotions and motivations associated with addictions to implement patient-centred care in any setting that enhances recovery and prevents harm
  • Use appropriate interviewing and communication techniques with people who have a history of addiction to facilitate treatment or progress in recovery
  • Practice best evidence relating to treatment and management of withdrawal and detoxification to facilitate a safe outcome for the patient
  • Schedule Day One

    8:30am - Registration and Refreshments


    What is Meant by “Addiction”?

    It is not unusual to associate addiction with a range of negative behaviours such as gambling, alcohol, and drugs. But how many times have to you said, or heard other people say, “I am addicted to chocolate”, or food, or as the song says “I am addicted to you”. In this introductory session we will explore:

    • What do we mean when we say we are addicted?
    • Are all addictions equal and are all addictions toxic to the body?
    • What is the difference between addiction, substance dependence, and substance misuse or abuse?
    • Are substances such as tobacco products, anabolic steroids, and alcohol also classified as “drugs”?


    The Brain and Addiction

    The increase in new knowledge provides an understanding of the impact on the brain of intoxicating substances. Several factors may affect the vulnerability of the brain to these substances. In this overview of why some people become 'addicted' or ‘dependent’ and others do not consideration will be given to:

    • How is the brain affected?
    • Is there a typical profile of a dependent person?
    • What conditions may influence dependence? For example:
      • Stressful life events across the life cycle
      • Social determinants of health in early life
      • Mental illness
    • Is there a genetic connection?

    10:30am - Morning Tea


    Addiction in Australia: An Update

    The harm from substance abuse is well recognised in Australia. However, how addiction is viewed and how resources are applied to its management is important in understanding services available to people who develop substance dependence. In this session we will look at:

    • What is the current focus of substances of dependence in Australia?
    • What are the most common addictions amongst Australians and how does this vary between populations or regions?
    • What are the underpinning principles of the National Drug Strategy?
    • Is Australia's tough position toward illicit drug use the best policy choice?


    Pharmaceutical Medicine Misuse

    As types and availability of illicit and pharmaceutical drugs change so does the form of substance misuse. While the problem of psychoactive drugs has increased, people who misuse commonly available medicines on prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) e.g. stimulants and depressants, have also been emerging. These may be used in combination and may lead to death. In this session we will discuss:

    • What are the most common misused licit and prescribed substances?
    • What is the extent of the problem and who is most vulnerable?
    • Do people who misuse prescribed or OTC pharmaceutical medicines present a different picture?
    • Now that OTC opiates are not available and it's becoming increasingly difficult to access prescribed opiates, what are the ramifications for people who have been misusing them up until now and for our communities?
    • What is your responsibility if you suspect a team member is diverting medicines?

    12:30pm - Lunch and Networking


    Communication and Engagement

    Building therapeutic relationships and engaging people suffering from addictions is an important part of the process of minimising harm and recovery. Any sense of judgment or unfriendliness may result in distrust, frustration and more deception which can affect the treatment process for the addiction or other medical problem.

    • The aim of this interactive session is to practice communication skills within the context of working with people who are substance dependent
    • It will include motivational interviewing technique

    3:00pm - Afternoon Tea


    Treatment Options for Addiction

    As addiction is a chronic disease, it is not feasible that people can be cured by stopping the substance for a few days. Recovery is slow, may often need to be repeated, should be holistic, and in many cases demand lifelong vigilance. This final session of the day will examine:

    • What are the key evidence-based principles for an effective treatment program?
    • Is there one single treatment that supports anyone with addiction?
    • How are medications used in treatment?
    • How to challenge the alcohol and drug culture framework and support clients in their recovery program

    4:30pm - Close of Day One of Seminar

    Day Two

    9:00am - Commencement of Day Two


    Harm Reduction and Resources

    Harm reduction for people with substance dependence is one of the pillars of the National Drug Strategy. Harm reduction works to reduce the adverse health, social and economic impacts of drug use on communities, families and individuals. Assisting someone to manage the effects of substance dependence and abuse in the healthiest way possible contributes to harm reduction. In this session we will discuss:

    • The role of nurses in providing information e.g. wound care, sexual health, correct intervention if overdose occurs, what to do if an artery is accessed during injecting
    • Where to find information about resources that people with addictions can access
    • Referring people with an addiction
    • Needle and syringe exchange programs and smoking reduction


    Detoxification and Withdrawal of Alcohol and Other Drugs

    Detoxification and withdrawal is an early step in the process of treatment. If no follow up occurs, the addiction will continue. This medical process can also be complicated by underlying disorders and be potentially fatal. This session explains:

    • How is a formal detox program initiated and managed?
    • Is consent always required?
    • What happens when someone is experiencing withdrawal from alcohol and/or other drugs?
    • The physiology of delirium tremens, signs and symptoms, medical interventions and prognosis
    • Detoxification services in the public, private and not-for-profit health sectors

    10:30am - Morning Tea


    Assessment Skills in Addiction

    Assessment of a person who has dependent behaviour requires skill and focus. While assessment tools are valuable, the conversation about substance use is also important. Here you will review some of the key aspects of assessment including:

    • What tools and observations are key to an effective assessment of a person with an addiction?
    • If accompanied by family or friends, how involved should they be in the assessment?
    • How can you assess how intoxicated or confused the person, and how reliable are answers to questions about substance use?
    • How effective are diagnostic tests involving urine, saliva and hair?
    • What are some of the issues encountered with medical assessment and investigations?
    • Estimating patterns of use and assessing risk


    Case Scenarios and Holistic Care Plans

    Using case studies related to a person with an addiction, this interactive session will bring together the knowledge learned so far and will demonstrate holistic nursing care planning. Includes:

    • Case scenarios that highlight challenges and require high levels of problem-solving skills
    • Dual Diagnosis – substance abuse and mental health
    • Nursing priorities and working with the person with an addiction
    • Consolidation and clarification

    1:00pm - Lunch and Networking


    Management of Anxiety, Panic and Physical Aggression

    During assessment and treatment phases, it is likely that you will encounter a patient who is in distress. This may manifest as panic or anxiety and may result in verbal or physical aggression.

    • Panic and anxiety attacks – first aid
    • Hypersensitivity, anger and aggressive responses – triggers for outbursts
    • Approaches to issues during therapeutic counselling and group work
    • Management of verbal and physical aggression
    • Safety and risk minimisation
    • The threat of harm to self or others
    • Post-incident support and follow up

    3:00pm - Afternoon Tea and Coffee


    When Acute Becomes Chronic

    Occasionally, it is not possible to reverse a dependent behaviour. In this instance, realistic and sensitive care needs to be provided.

    • What happens when detoxification merges into irreversible physical or mental limitations and impairments?
    • The chronic physical repercussions e.g. renal failure, HIV/AIDS, hepatic failure, neuropathy
    • Brain damage, including Korsakoff's Syndrome or Wernicke's encephalopathy

    4:30pm - Close of Seminar and Evaluations


    Geoffrey Ahern

    Geoffrey Ahern

    Geoffrey Ahern is a senior mental health clinician who works with the Victorian Police on a specialised mental health emergency response team called PACER (Police And Clinician Emergency Response). PACER clinicians are on the road with the police responding immediately to triple zero emergency calls that involve mental health. Geoff trained initially as a Registered Nurse in the early 90s. Over the years, he has gained extensive experience in emergency and trauma, rural nursing, alcohol and other drug counselling, and psychiatric nursing across both the public and private sectors. He also holds a Masters of Health Science (Mental Health and AOD) and is a PhD candidate with Deakin University. When Geoff isn’t working with the police you can find him conducting freelance education for various public and private organisations, raising community awareness and recognition of people developing mental health problems, and averting crisis situations similar to those he sees on the road with police. As an educator, he has been involved in one-on-one mentoring and staff in-services, right through to full-time lecturing at a tertiary level. Geoff is a passionate and creative teacher, bringing to his audience stories and experiences that give life and meaning to the subject areas that he teaches.

Nursing People with Addictions Seminar
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11 Hours | 0 Mins
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11 Hours | 0 Mins
Surry Hills NSW 2010
Rydges Sydney Central, 28 Albion Street
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