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Nursing People with Addictions

  • : Brisbane QLD 4001

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 addiction illnesses in a variety of healthcare settings. The addiction 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 addiction
  • What tips the scales towards addiction?
  • How can you assess addictive behaviour?
  • What is best evidence treatment for addictions?
  • Withdrawal and detox
  • Harm reduction and resources
  • Pharmaceutical misuse
  • Communicating effectively with people who have an addiction?


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.

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this program it is expected that the participants will be able to:

  • 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 and Coffee


    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. opioids, 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 illicit 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?
    • What signs and symptoms would alert you to addiction to pharmaceuticals containing codeine?
    • What is your responsibility if you suspect a team member is diverting medicines?

    12:30pm - Lunch Break 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 and Coffee


    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 Program

    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 and Coffee


    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 Break 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. Includes:

    • 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


    Karen-Ann Clarke

    Karen-Ann Clarke

    Karen-Ann Clarke is a Registered General and Mental Health Nurse. She has a Master's degree in Mental Health Nursing and is currently completing a PhD, which explores how women create meaning and decisions about electro-convulsive therapy. Karen-Ann is a highly skilled professional with over 25 years of practical experience in mental health and general health environments, which have included the physical care of those individuals with a chronic mental health disorder. Karen-Ann is currently working as Lecturer in Nursing (Mental Health) at the Sunshine Coast University. Her passion is working with students in an engaging way to reduce stigma towards those with mental illness.

    Nursing People with Addictions
    Speciality Classification
    Provider Type
    11 hours
    Start Date
    End Date
    Price Details
    Brisbane QLD 4001
    Mercure Hotel Brisbane, 85-87 North Quay
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