What is the psychiatrist's role in drugs and alcohol?

René G. Pols, Douglas Sellman, Steven Jurd, Michael Baigent, Nanette Waddy, Tobie Sacks, Peter Tucker, John Fowler, Allan White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: This article describes a consensus view of the role of psychiatrists in respect of alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems, in response to the view expressed by Wodak. Method: The data were selected on the basis of the knowledge and experience of the authors. Results: Psychiatrists have made major contributions in the primary, secondary and tertiary prevention of AOD problems over many years in Australia and New Zealand. In recent years there has been an explosion of new knowledge in the AOD area and a shift from mental health to primary and public health care for these patients. Substance use disorders (SUD) are highly prevalent in all areas of psychiatric practice, requiring treatment in their own right as well as complicating the treatment of coexisting psychiatric illness. Conclusion: It is argued that psychiatrists have important roles in harm reduction, prevention and policy development; brief and early intervention in SUD in liaison and child psychiatry; and systematic treatment for those with dependence and other psychiatric comorbidity. A research and collaborative approach to AOD services and patients should be encouraged, rather than engaging in divisive debate over 'ownership' of this area of clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)540-548
Number of pages9
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 1996
Externally publishedYes


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