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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2014 11:35 am 
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Teenager drinks herself to death at her own 18th birthday party after doing shots of a Polish spirit that’s 95 PER CENT alcohol

Pressure is mounting to ban a highly concentrated alcohol from Australian shelves, following the tragic death of a teenage girl at her 18th birthday party.

Nicole Bicknell, from Thornlie in Perth's south-east, only had a couple of shots of Polish-made alcohol Polmos Spirytus Rektyfikowany, which has an alcohol content of 95 per cent, two weeks ago before she died just a few hours later.

The family told Perth Now the young woman had only had a few mixed drinks before being offered the spirit by a male friend.

While the family is still waiting on the official report for the cause of Nicole's death, they believe drinking the Polish spirit was what killed her and are now advocating for a complete ban of the sale of high strength alcohol in Australia.

'I cannot see why alcohol so strong is sold in liquor stores,' grandfather Kevin McLean told News Corp.

'No one needs to buy alcohol that strong. It should be taken off the shelves so this doesn’t happen to any other family.

'We want it banned Australia-wide and we would like to see it an offence to sell it.'

Australian Drug Foundation's Geoff Munroe told Daily Mail Australia it was 'extraordinary' the Polish spirit did not come with a warning.

'There's no warning on the bottle but there's a warning on cough mixture that says you shouldn't drink alcohol or drive a motor car [when you take it] as well as a warning on aspirin,' he said.

'Alcohol is the only lethal product I can think of where a manufacturer does not have to provide a warning.

'It's extraordinary the alcohol industry refuses to warn its own customers and it's astonishing they get away with it.'

It is believed the Australian Medical Association tried to ban the alcohol a couple of years ago but were unsuccessful.

'It's a poison, a toxin that can cause outright liver damage and kills the cells and also has a direct suppressive effect on the brain,' Australian Medical Association member Dr Brain Mawson said.

'It also has an effect on our hearts, can induce arrhythmia in regular heart beats, a lethal irregular heartbeat.'

While he admits that Australians need to look at their own attitude towards consuming alcohol, citing most think it's acceptable to have too many, highly concentrated alcohol should have better labelling.

'Its true content needs to be in a larger print or have diagrams as an easy way for people to understand [alcohol content].'

And while he's not all for a complete ban on high strength alcohol, Dr. Mawson says we should maybe look at doing the same thing as we do with cigarettes.

'A lock and key to ask for it,' he said.

Spirytus Rektyfikowany is what is known as a rectified spirit from Poland and is often used as a base for liqueurs and other infusions.

A 500ml bottle equals about 38 standard drinks, more than double the potentially lethal dose for an average adult.

It is believed to have medicinal purposes and can be used as a household solvent.

A number of online alcohol sites that stock the highly concentrated drink warn people it should be diluted when consumed and is not recommended to be consumed on its own.

When Daily Mail Australia called Dan Murphy's liquor store, a customer service representative confirmed the brand had been discontinued most likely because of its high concentration of alcohol.

The representative said it was the only rectified liquor that Dan Murphy's stocked and it was now off the shelves although some independent stores would most likely still stock it.

It is believed the Woolworths Liquor group have also pulled the potent alcohol off its shelves and when Daily Mail Australia tried to search for the brand at chains, such as Coles' Liquorland website, it revealed there was none available. said this extraordinarily strong spirit needed to be treated with respect.

'It is questionable whether the human body is meant to digest such strong substances,' it said on its website.

'Being effectively pure ethyl-alcohol, it is more commonly used in cooking, in the preparation of fruit and herb tinctures, for medicinal purposes, or by home perfume makers.'

Ms Bicknell's death came before the Western Australian government passed laws which will see adults face criminal prosecution for supplying juveniles with alcohol.

From next year, anyone who buys alcohol on behalf of a minor in the state will run the risk of 'tough' penalties, Racing and Gaming Minister Terry Waldron said.

The penalties are yet to be determined but the laws will also allow parents, guardians or anyone who has their consent to responsibly supply drinks to juveniles on unlicensed premises such as private homes. ... cohol.html

PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 11:43 am 
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Brain training boosts memory for over 60s - but there's a catch

Computer-based "brain training" is useful for older adults, but only if it's conducted in a group setting, research suggests.

Brain training - computerised cognitive training - can boost memory and thinking skills in people aged over 60 years, according to the University of Sydney.

But many programs promoted by the $1 billion industry are ineffective.

To reach this conclusion, the researchers analysed more than 50 studies involving 5000 participants, comparing the results of those who undertook brain training in a group environment and at home.

"We found it was effective when supervised and not effective when done at home," says group leader Associate Professor Michael Valenzuela of the University of Sydney's Brain and Mind Research Institute.

"As for the underlying reason why that is, we don't have any definitive answers."

Prof Valenzuela believes one reason may be because people practice mainly what they are good at when working individually.

"We know it's really important to keep people's motivation up, and being supported by a trainer means they can make sure people are doing exercises that not only they are good at, but also on exercises they are weak."

The social interaction people experience when taking part in group brain training may also synergise with the actual training program, he says.

The best way to train your brain:
• Train in a group setting
• Training one to three times a week is effective, but training more than this neutralises any cognitive benefits
• Have at least one rest day between training sessions, as you would with strenuous physical exercise. ... d=11360936

PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 9:18 am 
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It can pay to be nice

There are many ways to define “nice”. According to Webster’s Dictionary it is “the ability to give pleasure or joy”, “to be friendly, kind and pleasant” and being “socially acceptable”.

Of course it’s nice to be nice, so why does nice receive such a bad rap?

First, for many of us it hails back to the #awkward days of high school dating. After walking Carol to and from school for all of year 11, I clearly remember the Christmas holidays when I painstakingly told her how much I really liked her. Her response felt like a stake driving through my heart when she told me I was a great friend and that I was “really nice”.

Bugger that, I didn’t want to be “nice”. I wanted to be hot and desirable. “Nice” is the doily that sits on your grandmother’s antique sideboard. “Nice” is the old guy down the road who gives his neighbours home-grown carrots and beans from his vegie garden. “Nice” is lying in bed on a lazy Sunday morning and hearing the rain dancing on a dusty tin roof.

Adding to my high school dating experiment, until recently the Darwinian theory of “survival of the fittest” echoed how many people approached life – to get ahead you need to look out for numero uno and compete against everyone else. Attack, or be attacked.


Fast-forward two-and-a-bit decades from Carol’s deflating feedback, and science might be ready to change our thinking about being nice. Neuroscientists James Rilling and Gregory Burns from Emory University recently found the act of helping another person triggers activity in the caudate nucleus and anterior regions of the brain – big words to describe the parts of the brain involved in pleasure and reward.

In addition, a study from the Huazhong University in China this year found personality traits such as being nice, kind and generous, increased perceptions of facial attractiveness.

We’ve all had experiences with a friend/partner whose initial physical attractiveness was diminished once certain personality traits were displayed that are the opposite of nice – such as selfish, moody and rude. And most of us know someone who might not be magazine cover material, but there is still a real attractiveness to them. It pays to be nice.


Last week, I subconsciously put this research to the test. I was in Melbourne for work and checking in to a nice hotel. It seems Mr Important was doing the same, just before me. He was on his mobile phone and when the lovely receptionist asked his name, he kept talking on his mobile, didn’t even look up, threw his Amex card across the counter and muttered his surname, demanding “give me two cards for my room”. No please, thank you, eye contact, or niceness of any description.

Then it was my turn. As I walked to the counter I received a beaming smile from Jessica, who opened with, “Hello, how was your day?” I did what my parents taught me to do – and what I’m now teaching my young children to do – and smiled back. “I’ve had a great day thanks, how about you?” If Jessica was upset by Mr Important’s appalling conduct, she didn’t show it. “With this weather, how can you not be happy? I see you stayed here last month. Welcome back, Mr May.”

Then, still smiling, Jessica said: “I’ve upgraded you to one of our suites on the 33rd floor. You’ll have to let me know what you think.”

As I thanked her and walked to the lifts, I had no idea what awaited. Level 33, you see, is the hotel’s top floor. As I opened the door to my gargantuan room, it dawned on me that my new BFF had put me in the the best room in the house – the 182-square-metre, newly renovated Premier Suite. When friends joined me that night for dinner at the eight-seat dining table looking out over the Melbourne skyline, with music pumping out of the Bose surround-sound system, in my mind the verdict was in – without doubt, it pays to be nice.


There is a bucketload of absolute rubbish written and filmed about this topic – such as, if you think about getting a car park it will just appear (of course, a car park becomes available only when somebody else is leaving). Or the notion that thinking about being rich will make you wealthy (you become wealthy by working really hard). Or, that you’ll be a lot skinnier if you think you are skinnier (you lose weight by exercising and taking control over what you eat).

While there is no real secret, it does pay to be nice. Social psychology refers to reciprocity as “responding to a positive action with another positive action, rewarding kind actions”. As a construct, this means in response to friendly actions, people are generally much nicer and more co-operative.


Contrary to outdated theories that humans are essentially selfish, scientists are finding that the brain is built for generosity. Acts of kindness are rewarded in the brain.

Dr Suzy Green, a leading psychologist and founder of The Positivity Institute, says: “Increasing amounts of scientific research indicate kindness makes the giver feel good. The kindness receiver also experiences the feel-good response. It creates a moment where they can feel a greater sense of worth about themselves and people in general.

“There are a number of beneficial physical and psychological responses, with the most obvious being the ‘feel good’ sensation, known as ‘helper’s high’.

“When engaging in acts of kindness, the body releases endorphins. These morphine-like substances create the feel-good experience. This can have the capacity to reduce or even block pain signals to the brain. Regular, small acts of kindness have a positive effect on your physical and mental wellbeing, and also on your longevity.”

Did I get the hotel upgrade simply because Mr Important made me look like the world’s best customer, or was it because I made an impact on Jessica by being genuinely nice, or just luck?

Who really knows? But I’m confident that saying hello to someone, making eye contact, smiling and using their name dramatically increases the chances they will do something good for you. ... fS813D7HBP

PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 8:43 am 
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The ice age: 12-year-olds are slaves to the drug but school counselling service is to be axed

Three years ago, she was attending one of the state's top primary schools in Sydney's eastern suburbs. Today, she is 14-years-old and so consumed by her addiction to the drug ice, she has sold her body on Sydney's streets to fund her next fix.

As concern mounts nationally about the rise and spread of crystal methamphetamine, a Sun-Herald investigation has found that children as young as 12 are now becoming slaves to the drug.

As some of those teenage addicts opened up for a series of confronting interviews last week, it emerged that at least 11 NSW public school principals have expressed fears this year that ice is present in their classrooms.

But while pressure mounts on authorities to develop strategies and solutions to the unfolding crisis, The Ted Noffs Foundation's School Program – the only specialised drug and alcohol counselling service for state high schools – is about to be axed.

Although NSW Police ice lab busts have doubled over five years and AFP border detections have risen by more than 800 per cent in three years, the drug continues to cut a swath through families. According to a new University of NSW study of more than 1000 youngsters referred to a Noffs' residential rebailitation program in the past five years, ice – and other amphetamine type stimulants – has skyrocketed as their drug of greatest concern.

UNSW researcher and senior lecturer in Public Health Dr Sally Nathan said: "While cannabis and alcohol are still a major factor, this data tells us that more young people are using ice – and they are more worried about it than ever before.

"It is high time we, as a society, had a serious debate about the options ahead ... because we do not appear to be making great inroads in our public health or law-and-order response today."

The NSW government has funded the Noffs School Program since the 1999 Drug Summit called by former Premier Bob Carr. It provides vital counselling and support for students within the school environment. But despite more than 1000 teenagers from 24 schools having reached out to the service this year, the Baird government will end the $322,500 funding arrangement next month.

Matt Noffs, CEO of the Ted Noffs Foundation, said wide ranging reforms that flowed from the parliamentary Drug Summit 15 years ago had made NSW one of the "safest communities in the world". But he added: "Ask police, ask paramedics, speak to the kids themselves … Ice has changed everything."

While the NSW Department of Education forbids teaching staff from speaking publicly, The Sun-Herald has viewed alarming correspondence from principals, which not only exposes the impact ice is having in schools but also the gap that will be left when the School Program is cancelled

In March, one principal, from Sydney's northern beaches, requested counselling services from Noffs following an "issue in school" in which a student had suffered a "bad episode" on the drug.

The letter stated: "Police were called and the student taken to East Wing at Manly hospital. This has caused a lot of talk between the students with some now starting conversations on their own heavy drug use."

Last month, another school head, from Sydney's inner west, expressed concern for between five and 10 students within his school, whom he believed had fallen prey to the drug.

"Ice use has increased in this area and some of our students are using it. Am worried these students will influence the other students," the principal wrote.

Another in Sydney east, said in June: "We need help", adding the school was "hearing from students who don't want to name names but say… friends are using ice and are worried."

On Friday, a Department of Education spokesman confirmed "funding to the Ted Noffs Foundation will cease at the end of 2014," but said such services could still be accessed by schools, if and when required, through their own allocated budgets.

"In 2015 the NSW government is providing $664 million in needs-based funding to principals and school communities to enable them to support students ... to run relevant programs, such as those offered by the Ted Noffs Foundation," he said.

While national data shows methamphetamine use remained stable across the general population, latest available figures from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre revealed that amphetamine related hospital admissions are at a 19-year high among 10-19 year olds.

Last week, The Sun-Herald spent time with six teenagers, aged 16 and under, who as ice addicts, are all currently in a residential rehabilitation program, with Noffs.

While their individual stories differ, each agrees they were hooked on the drug from the very first try. Soon after, all emotional empathy and attachment to loved ones disappeared "out of the window" as the drug swiftly dehumanised them into desperate addicts.

Sxteen-year-old Lisa, not her real name, from Newcastle, was just 12 when she first smoked ice with her boyfriend.

"A couple of years later, I started injecting. From there I just sank," she said.

Fighting back tears, she said: "I did some pretty bad stuff. But looking back, the worst of all was stealing from my grandma ... she is now dead.

"You become a person you never thought you could be." ... 1pxpi.html

PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 11:21 am 
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Treatment for ice addiction increases by 155 per cent with specialists fearing unpredictable violence

A dramatic spike in addiction to ice and amphetamine has led to a 155 per cent increase in Canberrans seeking treatment from specialists amid mental health problems and unpredictable violence.

According to The Salvation Army, the number of people seeking assistance after using the drugs has more than doubled since 2010 with 28 per cent of their clients now admitting to using the dangerous drugs.

Major Scott Warrington, who coordinates the Salvation Army's Canberra Recovery Services Centre in Fyshwick, said cases of amphetamine or ice usage were between 2004 and 2013 were now higher than the overall usage of cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine and gambling dependence combined.

"The biggest issue is not so much the increase in use but the amount of mental health issues associated which make it very difficult to work in that environment, despite how rewarding the work can be," he said.

"We've got people in there talking to people who aren't there and it makes everyone a bit scared."

In the past year alone, the number of amphetamine and ice users seeking help from the Salvation Army in Canberra has increased by 28 per cent.

Mr Warrington, who has been working with the Salvation Army for more than 13 years, said the increase had led to the highest level of tension between staff and clients he's seen in his career.

"When they come to us they are often reasonably detoxed and in a depressed state although you still get those who are using and they tend to become aggressive and sometimes they can start threatening staff with violence," he said.

"A couple of staff have had their lives threatened and then we have the added expense of getting counselling for them and supervision - not that that's a problem given how important our staff are."

The Salvation Army are not the only rehabilitation providers in the ACT to have noticed a spike in Canberrans requiring assistance after ice use.

Camilla Rowland, the chief executive of the Karralika drug outreach program, said the number of people seeking treatment from her organisation for ice use had increased during the past 12 months and was expected to continue rising.

"We have seen a significant increase in the proportion of people coming to us seeking treatment who have identified methamphetamines as their primary drug of concern," she said.

The proportion of people seeking treatment for ice use with Karralika increased from 15 per cent during 2012-13 to 30 per cent during 2013-14, which almost equalled the number of people seeking treatment for alcohol.

Gerard Byrne, clinical director of the Salvations Army's recovery services, said the use of the drug made clients more unpredictable with mood swings and associated mental health problems.

Earlier this year, a study led by ANU researcher Dr Rebecca McKetin found a direct link between the use of ice and violence with heavy ice use altering chemicals in the brain responsible for controlling emotions like aggression.

Mr Byrne said the community had made significant advances in educating the public to the dangerous of alcohol abuse but more attention needed to be paid to hard drugs like ice.

"There is this clear shift towards very dangerous drugs that are highly addictive," he said.

"In the case of amphetamine type substances, this can be a major harm to the community as it is associated with violent behaviour and mental health problems."

The increase in Canberrans seeking assistance for amphetamine or ice was greater than in Sydney where the Salvation Army recorded a 122 per cent increase in users seeking help.

Since 1984, the number of people coming to the charity with mental health problems has increased by 30 per cent according to Salvation Army records.

While the number of people impacted by ice has increased, clients seeking assistance for alcoholism has dropping from 66 per cent in 2010 to 50 per cent in 2014.

"Alcohol is still the highest because it's still seen as socially acceptable especially with younger people who don't always understand how those episodes can predispose them for addiction later on in life," said Mr Warrington.

Mr Byrne said it was clear the average age of the drug, alcohol and gambling user in the ACT was getting younger with most people using many drugs simultaneously rather than one substance.

ACT Policing seized amphetamine type substances on 183 occasions during 2012-13, which was a 22 per cent on seizures during 2011-12 according to the Australian Crime Commission's Illicit Drug Report.

"Short-term effects of amphetamine and methylamphetamine use may include sweating, headaches, insomnia, anxiety and paranoia [while] high doses can result in blurred vision, hallucinations, tremors and stroke," read the report.

"Long-term use may result in severe dental problems, reduced immunity, high blood pressure, depression, impaired memory and concentration, deficits in motor skills, aggressive or violent behaviour, anxiety, cardiovascular problems and kidney failure." ... 1qs1i.html

PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2014 7:35 am 
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Right now, I am drinking black coffee from a ceramic brown mug. I’m not sure where it came from, but it looks like one of those bottom-shelf mugs you might find collecting dust in a thrift store. Normally this is something I wouldn’t notice. But as it turns out, the color of your mug could affect your perception of how strong your coffee tastes.

A new study published in the journal Flavour was conducted by psychologist George Van Doorn at Monash University in Melbourne. The goal was to test if the color of your cup changes the way your coffee tastes. "The idea behind this study came about serendipitously," he writes. "A barista once told me that when coffee is consumed from a white, ceramic mug, it tastes more bitter than when drunk from a clear, glass mug."

The psychological impact explored here concerns contrast—what the coffee looks like. When you’re drinking from a white cup, the coffee certainly looks browner. This could unconsciously suggest to you that it tastes more intense, more flavorful. A separate study from 2011, for example, found that participants who ate strawberry mousse from a white plate as opposed to a black plate tended to rate their dessert 5% sweeter when they were, in fact, the same dish.

A similar concept may apply to coffee. In his first experiment, Van Doorn enlisted 18 tasting volunteers and used three colors: a blue mug, a clear mug, and a white mug. The goal was to assess perceived variations in coffee flavor without telling participants that they were, in actuality, drinking down the same stuff.

The white mug, in particular, seemed to make the coffee taste stronger—more coffee-like—than the clear mug. Van Doorn writes:

The white mug enhanced the perceived "intensity" of the coffee flavour relative to the transparent mug. Our hypothesis was that a crossmodal association between brown and bitter exists and that bitterness, and possibly other attributes, would be enhanced by the colour contrast.

"Intensity" was graded on a handful of 0-100 scales: sweetness, bitterness, aromatic strength. The process was then repeated in a second experiment, with 36 volunteers, but this time, the shape of the mugs were identical. The results were similar to the first experiment.

Van Doorn's conclusion? "Café owners, baristas, as well as crockery manufacturers should carefully consider the colour of the mug and the potential effects that its colour may exert over the multisensory coffee drinking experience."

I guess it’s time to get a new mug.

PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 9:14 am 
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Queensland government cuts red tape on alcohol sales

Sushi eaters and hipster beer enthusiasts rejoice. The government is cutting your red tape.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie has introduced changes to the Liquor Act.

Selling alcohol from supermarkets remains illegal, but Chinese cooking wine and soy sauce, both of which include alcoholic food additives, have been officially excluded from the act.

"These amendments will provide greater certainty for retailers around which products they may and may not sell without a liquor licence," Mr Bleijie said.

But Mr Bleijie made it clear the government would not accept people suddenly getting wild on the soy.

"If it becomes apparent that one of these is misused or abused for the purpose of becoming intoxicated, the bill allows for the substance to be prescribed in the Liquor Regulation as a substance to which the Liquor Act will apply," he said.

Car park booze-ups outside licensed venues are formally out, unless the licensee has been granted approval from the Commissioner.

Alcohol cannot be sold or consumed in the carparks of pubs, clubs and other venues and approvals will only be granted for specific applied for times.

Craft beers will now be able to be sold at promotional events.

Mr Bleijie said it was important for local producers to be able to spruik their wares at events highlighting the state's food and wine industries, so brewers would now be able to receive a licence for the duration of the event, or receive a permit.

Community clubs can now sell take-away alcohol to all patrons, not just members, while florists will be able to include a bottle of alcohol in gift baskets, without having to prepare a risk-management plan.

Police will be able to enforce the liquor act and anyone taking alcohol into or out of an event which has a community liquor permit or a commercial public event permit will now be committing an offence.

Mr Bleijie said the bill found the "right balance" between regulation and promoting growth, innovation and productivity. ... 1vdoi.html

PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 7:57 am 
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New drug could reduce effects of binge drinking

It can't take back those drunken phone calls or erase your friends' memory of what you might have said, but a chemical compound could preserve your brain cells during a night out.

Binge-drinking, defined by the National Institutes of Health as drinking five or more drinks at a time for men and four or more for women, is well known to be potentially damaging.

"One of things that alcohol does is to destroy some of the brain cells which are important for navigation and orientation," says University of Huddersfield professor Mike Page. "But a combination of alcohol and our compound could overcome this damage."

The key ingredient is ethane-beta-sultam, which reduced the brain function impairment caused by alcohol when it was tested on rats that were fed a binge-drinking regimen.

During a binge-drinking episode, the brain protects itself by producing glial cells, says Page.

"But a combination of our ethane-beta-sultam given at the same time as the alcohol decreased these levels of glial cells," he explains.

It's taken Page and his team 10 years to concoct the medicine, one of the biggest obstacles being the difficulty of drugs to penetrate the brain's natural defense mechanism, called the blood-brain barrier.

This one enters the bloodstream before it activates, which Page says makes it more effective.

He says the development has opened doors that could lead to new options for treating Alzheimer's and other neurological diseases that are reluctant to respond to drugs to due the aforementioned difficulty of being able to cross the blood-brain barrier.

The study was published in the Journal of Alcoholism & Drug Dependence. ... -1.2125322

PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2014 1:48 pm 
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Alcohol made Gable Tostee 'ashamed of himself'

Gable Tostee says his decade-long struggle with alcohol began when he started drinking excessively after attending Schoolies Week as a 17-year-old.

Mr Tostee, now 28, is fighting a murder charge over the death of New Zealand tourist Warriena Wright, who fell from his Surfers Paradise apartment balcony early on August 8.

It occurred after the pair had spent the previous hours drinking, with police alleging Ms Wright was heavily intoxicated on home-distilled vodka.

In documents recently tendered to the Brisbane Supreme Court, Mr Tostee said alcohol lowered his inhibitions "far too much".

"I found it helped me resolve my anxieties in interacting with others by improving my confidence...without alcohol I am quite reserved and less talkative. I find that I am slow to think and do not feel as witty when I am sober," he wrote.

While police concede Mr Tostee was not on his apartment balcony at the Ms Wright fell to her death, they believe they can prove a murder charge because she was allegedly in fear of her life when their Tinder date went wrong.

Ms Wright fell 14 floors while trying to lower herself to the apartment below, police allege.

Mr Tostee was granted bail last month and part of his conditions ahead of his upcoming trial is to seek help at a rehabilitation clinic.

Mr Tostee acknowledged he had a problem with binge drinking and wanted to address it to be a "functioning and productive member of society".

He admitted alcohol was a factor when he led police on a high-speed car chase across the NSW/Queensland border on July 27 - less than two weeks before Ms Wright's death.

In a letter to NSW police dated November 15, Mr Tostee said he was "ashamed of himself" over his driving.

"I am deeply regretful that I not only blatantly disregarded the law, but also put the lives of my friends, other road users, and yourselves as officers at risk," he wrote.

"Being stopped that night was the wake-up call I needed and I am thankful that it happened before something potentially much worse happened.

"My foolish and immature attitude has cost me the privilege to drive, my independence, and my primary means of transport."

Mr Tostee also said he was drunk during an incident at Surfers Paradise in January when he was involved in a dispute with police over an unpaid tuk-tuk fare.

His father Gray also submitted documents to the court, in which he said his son's alcohol usage began increasing after he turned 23.

"Gable seemed to get into some difficult situations due to alcohol, and sometimes legal issues arose," he wrote.

Mr Tostee also claimed that he was "distressed" during his three-month stay in the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre. Despite being held in protective custody, Mr Tostee said a strange man named Colin Latimer talked his way into his cell.

"I am still quite concerned about that incident and the intentions of Colin Latimer," Mr Tostee said.

However Arthur Gorrie's general manager Troy Ittensohn replied to Mr Tostee's lawyers, saying there was no evidence Mr Latimer entered the cell.

Mr Tostee is living with his parents on the Gold Coast while out on bail. He is unlikely to face trial until 2016. ... 1z3v2.html

PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2014 8:08 am 
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Banning Drinking Won't Stop Campus Rape

As the University of Virginia scrambles to show it's taking its campus rape scandal seriously, administrators have floated a series of dramatic -- but possibly dangerous -- solutions: student drinking bans. Board members have called on the school to crack down on underage drinking, forbid hard liquor at fraternities, or even eliminate alcohol in fraternities altogether, and University President Teresa Sullivan agrees the school needs to curb student drinking. “Serving sweet tasting but high-proof punches to women while the guys sip a few beers is often described as the prelude for taking advantage of the women,” Sullivan said in a speech to students Monday. “I want Friday and Saturday nights in the spring to look different from the way they have looked this fall.”

Research shows that alcohol is consumed by either the victim, the perpetrator, or both in almost half of all sexual assaults, says Kathleen Parks, a senior research scientist at the University of Buffalo. Yet colleges that aggressively restrict drinking risk creating another big, ugly problem: shifting alcohol use from fraternity houses to dorm rooms, off-campus apartments, and backyard parties, where there is even less potential for school supervision. I know that from experience.

Cornell, where I went to college, faced its own problems with student drinking. After a student died in February 2011 during an alcohol-fueled pledging stunt, the university enacted controversial reforms that continue to spark debate, including rules that prohibit freshmen from attending parties at fraternities that serve alcohol in the fall.

What happened next was exactly what some UVA students, who represented their peers at an emergency board meeting last week, have warned will happen there should the school move forward with aggressive alcohol bans. Drinking at Cornell spilled from fraternity balconies and lawns into "annexes," or run-down apartments students crammed into on weekend nights. On-campus parties that would have required certain procedural safeguards—registering events with the university, having "sober monitors" on scene, abiding by fire codes—gave way to uncontrolled, off-campus parties that drew the ire of town residents.

Perhaps the most dangerous effect of the reforms was the fuel it gave to the "pre-game" culture. For a story I wrote in the school newspaper, a student recounted crowding with his friends into a freshman dorm and going "shot for shot" before heading out to a fraternity party. Ten shots of liquor later, his blood alcohol content was at 0.178, and he collapsed outside a campus building. He was treated at a hospital and discharged the next morning, with a costly ambulance bill and calls from a furious mother as fallout for the evening.

There’s a name for what my classmate and his friends were doing: “underground drinking." In an analysis of fraternity culture, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln researcher found “there is a sense that removing the ease of access [to alcohol] not only heightens the adventure, but also frames the stories of edgework as heroic.” (PDF) The prelude to a night out—the pre-game—may also be brought to new extremes when students feel they won't readily have access to alcohol after they leave their dorm or a friend's apartment. A forthcoming study in Addictive Behaviors shows that when students pre-gamed, they were more likely to engage in “extreme drinking” (have more than 8 drinks for women, or 10 drinks for men), drink enough to pass out, and have a BAC reach over 0.16.

To be sure, some schools have found success in banning alcohol. Bowdoin, which prohibits liquor with more than 10 percent alcohol content from being consumed in its dorms, has reportedly seen fewer than 20 drinking-related hospitalizations a year between 2005 and 2010, according to The Dartmouth. Yet Bowdoin, with about 1,775 students, has a more intimate and easily controlled student body than 14,898-undergraduates-strong UVA. Other schools that have flirted with similar alcohol policies, like Stanford, have conceded alcohol use has not declined significantly since policies were implemented. “We’re at war with vomiting, we’re at war with blackouts, we’re at war with people doing things that harm themselves or other people,” a school official told The Dartmouth.

Researchers note a link between alcohol and sexual assault. Yet there's also data to show that simply cutting off access to alcohol may backfire by encouraging students to drink more, longer, and harder. Other approaches advocate acknowledging that underage drinking will happen and trying to educate students about the risks. “Harm reduction approaches to alcohol problems are at least as effective as abstinence-oriented approaches at reducing alcohol consumption and alcohol-related consequences,” a 2002 study concluded (PDF). In her speech, Sullivan mentioned other issues the school plans to address in its response to sexual violence besides alcohol: improving the climate for survivors of sexual assault and training bystanders to intervene before an assault occurs. She notes that banning hard drinking alone is unlikely to fix the school's sexual assault problem. What's worrying, however, are the new problems such a ban could introduce. ... ampus-rape

PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2014 8:13 am 
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How To Quit Your Shampoo Addiction

We’ve told you shampooing daily is for rookies. It strips your natural oils, dries out hair, etc.

But there’s a growing number of hippies naturalists out there promoting the no ‘poo movement, or the belief that you don’t need to wash hair at all.

Like, ever. Is this foul? Yes, but it won’t kill you.

To the no ‘poo-er’s credit, shampoo can contain some questionable ingredients (like formaldehyde, a potential carcinogen, and sulfates, those foaming agents that can dry out hair and skin).

It’s a fairly modern invention, too, considering the first commercially available shampoos hit shelves around the turn of the twentieth century. (This is when people started dabbling with things like deodorant and toothpaste, too, thanks to the introduction of modern advertising.)

But dermatologists warn that opting out of shampoo altogether could make your scalp a breeding ground for bacteria and lead to dandruff.

Look for a happy medium and shampoo a few times a week, but don’t give it up entirely, says hairstylist Ken Paves, who’s tended to the strands of celebrities like Tom Brady and David Beckham. And if the thought of your mane going a week unwashed gives you hives, consider some of Paves tips for adjusting to a life less clean.

Avoid Greasy Hair Culprits
Skip heavy, hydrating hair products (look for the word silicone) because they will make hair feel oily and flat. Same goes for constantly running your fingers through it, or letting the wind whip locks around. (Both of these spread the oil that’s sitting at roots throughout your head, so keep your hands off and throw on a hat during super blustery days.)

Push Through the Feeling
“Hair definitely adapts to not washing it,” says Paves. When you remove oil from your hair, your sebaceous glands compensate by producing more oil. So the less often you shampoo, the less oil your hair will produce. The first few weeks of cutting back might feel a bit gnarly, but your hair should acclimate about a month in.

Rinse With Water
“Rain has eroded mountains. Water alone will get rid of some sweat and styling products,” says Paves. “Rinse your hair really good with warm water, massaging your scalp to lift any oils and product, then rinse.” You can follow with conditioner if that clean smell triggers happy thoughts.

Discover Dry Shampoo
For a quick pick-me-up between washes, try rubbing a dry shampoo into your roots. (If you haven’t tried the stuff or seen it in your girlfriend’s bathroom, dry shampoo is usually a mix of absorbing agents and fragrance that sucks up grease from your hair and scalp). “It’s a great way to freshen hair, absorb oil and create volume,” says Paves. Baby powder or cocoa powder (for dark hair) do the job well, too. ... on-2014-12

PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2014 7:41 am 
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Planning a post-Christmas ‘detox? Don’t bother

This month, many of us are sinking a few too many mulled wines and binge-eating mince pies in the belief that a post-Christmas ‘detox’ will sort us out.

Good plan – except for the fact that the dozens of detox diets, drinks, shampoos etc on sale in the UK don’t work at all.

A network of scientists in the UK contacted the manufacturers of ‘detox’ products to ask which toxins, precisely, they got rid of.

None could even say what they meant by the word ‘detox’ – let alone name the toxins themselves.

Buying any form of detox shampoo, drink, food or tablet won’t help ‘cleanse’ you.

The term ‘detox’ is meaningless: your body can rid itself of individual toxins (such as alcohol) perfectly well on its own.

Your liver and kidneys are built to do this – and are very good at it.

The idea you’re full of other toxins which can only be removed using expensive health foods is just plain wrong.

No drink will help ‘cleanse’ you – nor will a ‘detox diet’ help you lose weight.

Most such diets just involve drastically cutting back on the amount you eat – which is going to make you lose weight anyway. ... r-4979402/

PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2014 8:13 am 
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Drunks clogging emergency beds, compromising patients

Emergency doctors have had enough of drunks clogging up their hospital beds, threatening staff and compromising the care of other patients.

A snapshot of 100 emergency departments in Australia and New Zealand at 2am last Saturday found one in eight were there because of booze.

However, in some hotspots the ratio was one in two.

The results would have been even worse if the weather hadn't kept people at home, says emergency physician Diana Egerton-Warburton, lead researcher of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine study.

"On the night of our snapshot there were bad thunderstorms and rain over the whole of the eastern seaboard," she says.

"If it had been a hot December night we would have seen a lot more."

Dr Egerton-Warburton says physicians are bracing themselves for another wild festive season.

"There are a lot of key dates coming up that are absolute standouts on the alcohol harm calendar," she says.

"Christmas, New Year's Eve and Australia Day.

"It is the holiday season and we don't want people getting drunk and ending up in the ED."

Emergency physicians are sick of dealing with aggressive and drunk patients, she says.

"Frankly at times it's more like working in a nightclub," she said.

"We had a drunk man knock a doctor unconscious because he wanted a sandwich.

"We've got people punching pregnant nurses in the stomach.

"And equally worryingly, we have patients' care disrupted by drunk people."

Nine out of 10 emergency clinicians regularly feel unsafe in their workplace, she says.

A separate recent survey of 2000 clinicians by the college revealed emergency staff reported being hit, scratched, spat on, bitten and threatened with violence.

Dr Anthony Cross, president of the college, says the college is calling for urgent action from federal, state and local governments to stem the tide of alcohol harm.

It wants to see the introduction of a national 3am last drinks rule and a 10pm cut off for takeaway alcohol sales.

"Research and the Sydney CBD changes clearly demonstrated this works, by reducing serious assaults by 30 per cent," he says.

The college also wants mandatory collection of data on alcohol-related hospital presentations across Australia to get an idea of the size of the problem.

And it wants everyone who presents to emergency for alcohol harm to be offered a brief intervention and referred on to treatment if necessary.


* 98 per cent had suffered verbal aggression from drunk patients

* 92 per cent had experienced violence or physical threats from drunk patients

* 88 per cent said the care of other patients was negatively affected by drunk patients ... tal-system

PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 9:32 am 
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Preschool blames hand sanitiser for child's drunkenness

The owner of an early childhood centre in Invercargill where a 4-year-old became grossly intoxicated says the girl consumed alcohol-based hand sanitiser and the centre would not be using the product again.

Jackie Woodward, owner of the Woodhouse Early Learning Centre, has spoken of the "horrific" few days she and her staff have endured after the girl was hospitalised in a drunken stupor shortly after leaving the childhood premises.

The girl was picked up by her mother from the centre at 5.30pm on Monday.

But the mother soon became alarmed at her behaviour and rushed her to hospital, where she collapsed into a nurse's arms and was later diagnosed as being intoxicated. Her alcohol reading was 188mg, nearly four times over the legal driving limit.

Woodward said they believed the girl had climbed onto a bookshelf and reached the hand sanitiser connected to the wall above while the on-duty staff member was putting on a load of washing in another room.

There was "no liquor anywhere in the centre at all" that the child could have got access to, she said.

The mother has criticised Woodward's staff for failing to pick up that her daughter was drunk.

Woodward said the only sign the girl was not acting normally was when she stumbled at about 5.15pm, but she put it down to the soles falling off her sandals.

Woodward, who has removed the hand sanitiser from its position and put it in a locked room, said she would not be using the product again, instead sourcing non-alcoholic hand cleaning products.

"I had no idea it was 60 to 70 per cent alcohol content."

She was relieved the child was okay.

"That's the main thing for us."

She had tried reaching out to the girl's mother, Terri Hawke, but without luck, and the teacher on duty at the time of the incident had apologised to Hawke in a telephone call, Woodward said.

The "traumatic few days" had brought the staff closer together, with the Ministry of Education sending a trauma team to the centre to help staff.

Doug Sellman, director of the National Addictions Centre University of Otago, Christchurch, said an average-sized 4-year-old girl would need about 40ml, or eight teaspoons, of hand sanitiser to reach a 188mg level.

If she had drunk wine she would have needed one glass to reach the 188mg level, and 1.5 stubbies of beer would have been sufficient.

The incident was a reminder that alcohol was a poison, Sellman said.

"I think [188mg] in a four-year-old is an extremely worrying situation because she's actually been poisoned by alcohol. We are all socialised and somewhat brainwashed to think alcohol is innocuous but here is a stark example of how poisonous it is."

It was unlikely the girl would suffer any long-term physical or psychological effects from the incident, he said.

"It's when you get to a level of [300mg] that you start to worry about people stopping breathing," he said.

He believed the girl may have had blackouts so would not remember the incident, burying any concerns of psychological trauma.

"Given the immediate care she received, it wasn't life threatening ... but a four-year-old walking around [drunk] is potentially life-threatening because of the chance of walking out onto the road or that sort of thing."

Sellman said hand sanitiser with an alcohol content between 60 and 70 per cent was a highly effective killer of bacteria.

"I have heard of hand sanitiser being flogged from hospitals because of its high alcohol content."

Hawke has called on all early childhood centres to remove hand sanitiser from their premises.

She said it was not worth the risk.

"Not with such a high percentage of alcohol in it, it needs to be gone. If it's the reason my daughter ended up like she did, definitely do something about it before it happens to another child."

The Ministry of Education, which has launched an investigation to determine what happened, said it required all early childhood services to take the health and safety of children in their care seriously.

"This includes identifying all substances that are potentially dangerous to children, including reading product labels, and managing these to mitigate any risks to children. For instance, by ensuring substances that may harm children are not readily accessible to them."

Washing hands with soap and water and drying them properly was sufficient to prevent the spread of illness, the ministry said.

It had received no other complaints relating to intoxicated children in early childhood centres in the past two years. ... runkenness

PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2014 7:43 am 
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'Ice' problem top priority for federal drug panel

Rising alarm about abuse of the drug crystal methamphetamine or "ice" has prompted the Abbott government to order its chief drug advisers to make the problem their top priority.

Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash announced on Sunday that the government's newly rebranded Australian National Advisory Council on Alcohol and Drugs had been tasked with tackling ice as its number one order of business.

"Tackling the growing ice problem is a major priority for the government, and as a first step I will be asking our advisory council to look at this issue as their first work priority," Senator Nash said.

The move follows growing public concerns about ice.

Usually smoked or snorted, it is metabolised more quickly by the body than other forms of the drug, and is generally regarded as more addictive. The drug produces feelings of euphoria but can subsequently induce psychosis and violent and erratic behaviour.

Data released in October by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre found that while the incidence of methamphetamine use was generally stable, use of the crystal form had jumped from 22 per cent of the overall share in 2010 to 50 per cent in 2013.

"This is of significant concern," Senator Nash said. "We are responding to community concerns and evidence on the ground that ice is causing widespread devastation and destruction, particularly affecting young people.

"It's destroying families, children and communities across Australia. We want this to stop."

The new council – which takes over from the former Australian National Council on Drugs – will be chaired by former Nationals MP Kay Hull and will include for the first time a dedicated specialist on indigenous drug and alcohol abuse, Professor Ted Wilkes.

Senator Nash said one focus would be developing an education campaign to tell Australians how addictive and damaging ice was. ... 26uok.html

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