17 - 19 Oct 2021

Nursing People with Addictions Seminar

QRC: 4183
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Why Attend

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
  • Factors that tip the scales toward addiction
  • How to assess addictive behaviour
  • The best evidence treatment for addictions
  • Withdrawal management
  • Harm reduction and resources
  • Pharmaceutical misuse and addiction
  • Communicating effectively with people who have an addiction and much, much more


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 you said, or heard other people say, ‘I am addicted to chocolate’ 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 of intoxicating substances on the brain. Several factors may affect the vulnerability of the brain to these substances. This session will give an overview of why some people become ‘addicted’ or ‘dependent’’ while others do not. It will also give consideration 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 among 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 the 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 with addictions is an important part of the process of minimising harm and beginning 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 another 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, demands 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 do you challenge the alcohol and drug culture framework and support clients in their recovery program?

4:30pm - Close of Day One of Seminar

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. for wound care, sexual health, the correct intervention if overdose occurs or 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


Withdrawal of Alcohol and Other Drugs

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 withdrawal 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
  • Withdrawal 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:

  • Which 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 is, as well as how reliable their answers are to the 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?
  • How do you estimate patterns of use and assess 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. It 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. This final session looks at:

  • What happens when detoxification merges into irreversible physical or mental limitations and impairments?
  • What are the chronic physical repercussions? e.g. renal failure, HIV/AIDS, hepatic failure or neuropathy
  • What brain damage can occur? Korsakoff's syndrome and Wernicke's encephalopathy

4:30pm - Close of Seminar and Evaluations


educator avatar

Karen-Ann Clarke

Dr Karen-Ann Clarke is a registered nurse and a specialised mental health nurse with 30 years’ experience of working with individuals and families impacted by the experience of mental illness. Using a feminist narrative methodology, her PhD research explored the way that women diagnosed with depression made decisions and meanings about receiving electroconvulsive therapy. As a lecturer in nursing at USC, Karen-Ann is responsible for the coordination of mental health curricula across multiple undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Teaching in excess of 900 undergraduate students each year, she is passionate about the value that immersive mental health simulation can bring to student’s learning and clinical skills and the way that it can safely bring to life theoretical concepts related to mental healthcare. Karen-Ann currently supervises a number of honours, masters and PhD students and is part of numerous research projects, involving visualisation and simulation, mental illness, suicide prevention and the inclusion of people with lived experience of mental illness into the teaching and learning space.

Need for Program

Addiction is a growing problem; with alcohol and other substance misuse 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 an addiction. The consequences for the individual and those around them are significant. Understanding addiction, how it affects people and the latest evidence and principles for effective management is essential to the recovery of those people who have addiction in order to minimise harm.

Purpose of Program

The purpose of this seminar is to provide nurses with the latest knowledge and skills for effective practice when caring for people who exhibit signs or are known to be affected by an addiction

Your learning outcomes

  • Use essential evidence-based knowledge and assessment skills during any patient encounter for the early recognition of and appropriate response to 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
17 - 19 Oct 2021

Nursing People with Addictions Seminar

QRC: 4183
Mercure Hotel Brisbane
Brisbane, QLD, 4000
Price: $559.00