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The Sydney Addiction Seminars are a post-graduate health education series now held under the auspices of Drug Health Services, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and the Department of Addiction Medicine, University of Sydney. They are convened by Dr Richard Hallinan and Professor Paul Haber.


Wednesday 14th October, 2015

"Alcohol - from the ED to the GP. What has changed?".

While tobacco smoking causes the largest number of deaths of any drug in Australia, alcohol causes the largest number of hospital bed days and the highest costs to the hospital system. Alcohol-related health problems may present in hospitals, general practice but also to community pharmacies, in the workplace and to the police and courts. Continuity of care between hospitals and general practice is an opportunity and a challenge.

In this seminar Paul Haber will provide an update on the detection, assessment and management of alcohol related problems, including the latest on pharmacotherapies. The contribution of mental comorbidity to alcohol problems will also be described. With case studies.

Prof Paul Haber is the Clinical Director, Drug Health Services Sydney Local Health District and Head, Discipline of Addiction Medicine, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney.

Objectives: At the end of this seminar the participant will be able to:
1. Show awareness of the range of possible hospital and non-hospital health presentations related to alcohol use, including “hidden” presentations.
2. Demonstrate ability comprehensively to assess alcohol use and related health problems.
3. Show familiarity with brief interventions for hazardous and harmful alcohol use.
4. Demonstrate an informed approach to the use of medications for alcohol withdrawal management and relapse prevention.
5. Show awareness of the impact of alcohol related cognitive impairment on the management of alcohol dependence.

Questions already submitted:
1. In light of DSM V, is alcohol dependence still an acceptable diagnosis?
2. Are there alternatives to the use of benzodiazepines for alcohol withdrawal management in the community?
3. How do we manage alcohol withdrawal if inpatient “detox” services are closed?
Is there a case for GPs prescribing baclofen for alcohol dependence? What about topiramate?
4. “I can’t sleep without alcohol…” – how should the GP manage this problem?
5. Is it ever justified to use maintenance benzodiazepines for alcohol relapse prevention?
6. Should doctors recommend 12 step groups to people with alcohol use disorders?
7. Is hair testing for alcohol use valid?
8. From a GP: “I’ve never met an patient yet who said that Campral is any use, but it is still recommended and subsidized. Why is that?”

For pre-reading we recommend the summaries of two previous seminars:

We aim to make these seminars as interactive as possible. Please email your suggestions to for cases and questions to Richard Hallinan at

Venue: Scott Skirving Theatre, RPAH, Camperdown

6.30pm for introductions and refreshments, sessions starts at 7pm. No booking necessary, but to assist with catering please RSVP interest to or call Drug Health Services RPAH on 02 9515 6419

This seminar series attracts 2 points/hour for RACGP QA&CPD (activity number 715352).

The sessions and refreshments are again supported this year by Reckitt Benckiser, makers of buprenorphine and buprenorphine/naloxone