Health experts in WA have warned the state government not to downgrade any drug addiction services in the state in the midst of a merger of 2 vital government health departments, especially because recent figures have revealed that clinics are having to cope with increased cases of alcohol and cannabis problems including an increase in helpline calls from parents.
According to statistics alcohol related hospital admissions rose by almost 40 per cent since 2007 until last year.
The WA governments Drug and Alcohol Office annual report shows treatments in 2012-2013 rose 16 per cent to almost 33,000. The report shows that services at sobering up clinics increased 28 per cent to more than 15,000.
Also increasing are the number of calls to the 24 hour Alcohol and Drug Information Service hotlines and the Parent Drug Information Service. The number of calls about cannabis increased dramatically in the last five years – almost doubling.
An article about the report was posted on http://au.news.yahoo.com, the following excerpt from the post explains further:
The report said WA’s rate of risky drinking was higher than the national average and though fewer children drank alcohol, those who did consumed more.
Curtin University professor of health policy Mike Daube said the figures heightened concerns about the State Government’s planned merger of the DAO with the Mental Health Commission and argued it was crucial neither lost funding.
Mental Health Minister Helen Morton announced five months ago that the two agencies would amalgamate to improve prevention and treatment services.
She said the sectors had a big overlap, with studies showing half those with mental illness also had a drug or alcohol problem.
According to the Drug and Alcohol Office’s chairman Gary Geelhoed, services in WA are under an increasing amount of pressure and the work that they are doing is vital, it cannot be stopped.
Young people are an area of particular concern because they are increasingly being exposed to drugs and excessive alcohol. Alcohol and drug addiction have become major problems among the younger members of the population. Binge drinking is one of the issues that are fuelling the problem.
The planned merger should not be allowed to interfere with drug and alcohol treatment in any way, according to Professor Daube. He went on to explain that although Minister Morton did have a strong commitment to the cause, the merger seemed to put drug and alcohol issues on the backburner and thereby downplay their importance.
The post went on to explain:
He said it was an odd time to downgrade, particularly with more parents worried about alcohol. He was frustrated that the Liquor Control Act review to address concerns had been delayed again.
The Australian Medical Association said it discussed with Mrs Morton concerns about the merger and still had reservations about the decision.
It warned the move could send the wrong message to people seeking medical help through the two sectors.