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Alcohol and Other Drug Services (AOD)

Experienced counsellors can meet with you to discuss your concerns and goals around your alcohol or drug use.You may wish to learn more about the effects of drug use on your health or mental health, find strategies to better control or reduce your drug use or access support to stop using completely and improve your well-being.Whatever your goals, whether it is to control, reduce or stop your drug use, our counsellors will be able to help you with:Information about the effects of alcohol and drug use on your health and mental healthHelping you to reduce the harms associated with alcohol and drug useDeveloping a plan and practical strategies to control or reduce your useAssisting you to plan to cease your drug use and provide you with strategies to prevent relapseInformation and support for families affected by alcohol and other drug useInformation and referral to Thorne Harbour Health’s therapeutic groups or other treatment services including residential or non-residential withdrawal and/or rehabilitation

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News

15 Feb 2019

Two Winners for Film Competition

The votes have been counted, and it's a tie! Two filmmakers, Sam McGowan & Millie Hayes, were announced as winners for the Keep the Vibe Alive film competition at this week's 2019 Melbourne Queer Film Festival Program Launch.

24 Jul 2019

Winter 2019 Newsetter

The winter newsletter is out! Have a read to find out about our submissions to Victoria's Royal Mental Health Commission, the PARTi Project's time in Amsterdam, and Emen8's Guys Like Me. Guys Like You. Guys Like Us. Plus, check out updates from the teams at SAMESH and Equinox.

24 Jul 2019

PARTi in Amsterdam

In early May, Kate Pern and Gaia Miller-Foote from Thorne Harbour Health and Star Health’s joint harm reduction initiative, the PARTi Project, had the exciting opportunity to travel to Amsterdam to present at the 11th International Club Health Conference on nightlife, substance use and related health issues.

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Media Releases

6 Jun 2019

Release of TGA decision regarding ‘amyl’ raises questions for community

Today the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has handed down its decision regarding alkyl nitrites, commonly known as ‘amyl’ or ‘poppers’. Thorne Harbour Health recognises that the decision demonstrates the power of community advocacy but expresses concerns for the short term implications.Late last year, the TGA postponed the release of any decision after community backlash over the possibility of alkyl nitrites being scheduled alongside prohibited drugs like heroin and methamphetamine. In response, the TGA accepted written submissions and held a series of public consultation sessions earlier this year to allow for community feedback and gain a better understanding of how alkyl nitrites are used.“The fact that we’ve seen Australia turnaround from a decision to ban amyl is actually quite remarkable,” said Thorne Harbour CEO Simon Ruth.“It’s really a testament to our community’s continued legacy of mobilisation and activism. We can’t take that for granted as other parts of the world haven’t been so successful.”The TGA decision posted this morning directly mentions that the community submissions and public meetings were taken into consideration as it determined:Amyl nitrites will be classified as Schedule 3 “when in preparations for human therapeutic use and packaged in containers with child-resistant closures” — meaning they can be purchased from behind the counter at a pharmacist pending appropriate packaging.Isoamyl nitrite, butyl nitrite, isobutyl nitrite and octyl nitrite will remain on schedule 4 — effectively restricting them to ‘prescription only’ access.Isopropyl nitrite & n-propyl nitrite will be classified as Schedule 10 - prohibiting them from sale, supply, and use due to the potential health risks of temporary or permanent retinal maculopathy.This decision goes into effect from February 2020. While this means amyl nitrite may eventually be available through pharmacies, there are no products currently on the market for this purpose in Australia.“This a reasonably good outcome, but we’re concerned about what this will mean in the next year. It may be two years before we see amyl nitrites in the marketplace,” said Simon Ruth.“We’re going to potentially see affected communities fall into a grey area. We’re now calling on state governments to work with the community to ensure that we don’t see gay men and other men who have sex with men criminalised for possession and use of amyl in the meantime.”The TGA decision is publicly available online: https://www.tga.gov.au/scheduling-decision-final/final-decisions-matters-referred-march-2019-joint-acms-accs-meeting.

23 Dec 2019

Thorne Harbour advises communities to take additional care with MDMA this summer

As summer gets underway, Thorne Harbour Health is advising the community to take additional care if using MDMA (also known as ecstasy). During the holidays and summer festival season, it’s not uncommon to see an increase in the use of drugs like MDMA. In the past, MDMA has been sold as pills and caps, although increasingly it is being sold in a crystal or ‘rock’ form.Australian research is showing that it is becoming common for people to be sold high strength MDMA crystal in 1 gram and 3.5 gram bags. One gram of crystal may be the equivalent of 10 or more pills or capsules. An overdose of MDMA can be fatal. In fact, it led to six deaths last summer in NSW alone. It is important that people know what they are taking, how much they are taking, and what is a normal dose. Information about MDMA can be found on the EROWID website.Thorne Harbour Health (THH), a provider of alcohol and other drug services to LGBTI communities, is asking people who may engage in drug use to take additional precautions to minimise the risk of potential harms.“We know the use of MDMA in crystal form has become more common, and people need to educate themselves quickly if purchasing MDMA in this form for the first time in order to prevent accidental overdose,” said THH CEO Simon Ruth.Dr Stephen Bright from Edith Cowan University added, “Dosing with these drugs becomes an issue. You really need scales and reagent testing to accurately know that what you’re taking and how much of it. You cannot ‘eye-ball’ a dose of MDMA.”“MDMA also places a lot of strain on your cardiovascular system. MDMA overdose, effectively, can manifest as a heart attack. Someone using MDMA needs to be conscious of the amount of physical activity they’re undertaking whether that be excessive dancing or having sex. Any activity that could significantly increase your heart rate poses risks.”Halving doses is one strategy being advised to mitigate these risks. When trying a new batch of a drug for the first time, by taking half, you can test the effects of the drug before deciding whether or not to take the rest of it. Taking half can also be an effective risk reduction strategy when redosing with MDMA.“If you’re redosing, only taking half is one way to help mitigate the strain you’re putting on your cardiovascular system whilst maximising the pleasurable effects, and of course you need to stay properly hydrated,” advises Dr Bright.While MDMA does not specifically dehydrate you, it can cause your system to overheat. When combined with the diuretic effects of alcohol and the fluid loss from physical exertion, someone taking these drugs may be at risk of dehydration. Conversely, MDMA causes the body to retain water on a cellular level, so drinking an excess of water can also cause fatal issues. In lieu of water, low-sugar electrolyte drinks are an effective alternative to properly rehydrate.“At the end of the day, if you’re going to use these drugs, we want the community to be smart about it. Avoid alcohol, keep an eye on physical activity, try to not overheat, make sure you’re with trusted friends who can help in an emergency, and don’t hesitate to contact emergency services on ‘000’,” said Simon Ruth.“As with all drugs, people may believe what they’re buying is MDMA, but in an unregulated market, you can never be sure of what exactly you’re taking. This is especially true when you’re talking about drugs in powdered forms.”If you suspect overdose or would like support for a non-urgent overdose, call the 24-hour Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26. Earlier this year, Thorne Harbour Health released a position statement advocating for pill testing and drug safety testing: thorneharbour.org/about/policy-advocacy/

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