Media Release – Wednesday 18 March, 2009

A coalition of health agencies has slammed the Senate’s decision today to reject the “alcopops bill”.

The coalition, made up of the Australian Drug Foundation, Cancer Council Victoria, Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre and VicHealth, is adamant that more needs to be done by the Government to promote a safer drinking culture in Australia.

“This is a very sad day for the health of many Australians,” said Alcohol Policy Coalition member Michael Livingston (Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre), commenting on the loss of new tax and health measures designed to curb Australia’s heavy drinking culture.

Cancer Council Victoria’s Craig Sinclair: “We are extremely disappointed that binge drinking will continue unabated. The failure of a raft of positive measures to address binge drinking to pass in the Senate is a big win for the alcohol industry. Now the onus is on the industry to live up to its promise to use the funds collected to invest in reducing harm associated with drinking rather than line their coffers.”

Geoff Munro, policy head of the Australian Drug Foundation, believes the Liberals, Nationals and Senator Fielding have failed young Australians. “They have also failed so many people in the health sector who have contributed so much to tackle alcohol abuse and to control alcohol advertising as we’ve approached today’s vote. And now it is all for nothing.”

“This was the best opportunity – the best in a decade – to make significant headway in tackling under-aged drinking and in reducing harm across the country,” Mr Munro said. “Twelve months ago, Fielding was a lone voice calling for alcohol control. Today he stands condemned as the person who could not act on his own advice.

“The Senators who voted against the tax have voted for cheap alcopops, the favourite drink of under-aged drinkers – at the very time when medical authorities are urging young people not to drink any alcohol until they are over 18.

VicHealth’s CEO, Todd Harper said: “It is incredibly disappointing that a majority of senators spoke in favour of more effective controls on alcohol yet they delivered exactly the opposite – a green light for the alcopops industry to continue marketing cheap alcopops to young people.

“The only winner from today’s sorry state of events is the alcohol industry.”

The Alcohol Policy Coalition (the Coalition) is comprised of health agencies – Australian Drug Foundation, Cancer Council Victoria, Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, and VicHealth – who share a concern about the level of alcohol misuse in the community. The Coalition’s long-term goal is to reduce the negative health and social consequences of alcohol.

A cry for help

17 March, 2009

Last night I leaned out my bathroom window (the only window in my flat that’s easily accessible) and called, softly, “Help. Help. Somebody help me. I need help. Help.” Of course there was no answer, and I chuckled to myself.

I’ve been taking St. John’s Wort for dysthymia as an experiment. I tried taking all five pills (my daily dose) at once, as I’d heard I could do this, but it made me feel a bit woozy and speedy, so now I take 2 in the morning and 3 at night, which seems to be working out okay. Only side-effect I’ve noticed is dry throat, which is occasionally disturbing if I’ve been lying on my back, but it’s nothing I can’t live with.

Also of note, I believe I have been “edged out” by my best and only friend. Oh well, it’s happened before. It’s depressing and lonely but I’ll survive (and without singing that song made famous by Gloria Gaynor).

I just had a big shipment of anime soundtrack CDs arrive, so I’ll be investigating them this weekend. I planned carefully and think I’ve made a very good selection. I may post some reviews later.

What I bought:

  1. Someday’s Dreamers [58m]
    Category: Quiet/poignant
  2. Haibane Renmei [52m]
    Category: Quiet/poignant
  3. Fruits Basket Four Seasons [40m]
    Category: Quiet/poignant
  4. Strawberry Marshmallow [42m]
    Category: Cute/kooky
  5. Chobits Soundtrack 002 [52m]
    Category: Cute/kooky
  6. Azumanga Daioh [46m]
    Category: Cute/kooky
  7. RahXephon Soundtrack 1 [21tracks]
    Category: Avant jazz/classical
  8. RahXephon Soundtrack 2 [63m]
    Category: Avant jazz/classical
  9. Serial Experiments Lain [50m]
    Category: Sparse electronic
  10. Texhnolyze Soundtrack 1 “Music Only Music But Music” [71m]
    Category: Sparse electronic
  11. Texhnolyze Soundtrack 2 “The Man of Men” [18 tracks]
    Category: Sparse electronic
  12. Lunar Legend Tsukihime Moonlit Archives [48m]
    Category: Sweeping gothic
  13. Lunar Legend Tsukihime Moonlit Memoirs [46m]
    Category: Sweeping gothic
  14. Neon Genesis Evangelion Refrain of Evangelion [74m]
    Category: The NGE CD with the least number of versions of “Fly me to the moon”.

I’ve recently had disturbed sleep, probably due to anxiety and mild depression due to my current situation. I’ve also come to the realisation that I have dysthymia (I guess I was aware before, but didn’t know the psychological term).

So I’m starting to self-treat with St. John’s Wort (SJW), active chemical hypericum. Now, there’s only one study on SJW for dysthymia that I know of – it’s the one that always gets cited, from the journal Phytomedicine. This study confirmed that SJW is effective for mild depression (it’s also effective for major depression), but said it was ineffective for dysthymia. However, the study was limited: first, total group was 150 patients, which is a small sample. Second, the study only went to 6 weeks (psych meds can take longer to become effective). Third, dose was typical for these studies, with a maximum of 1200g/day (SJW extract – abstracts don’t say what strength of hypericum in the extract).

What is the difference between minor and major depression, and dysthymia? Depression is generally defined as an episode lasting up to 18 months, whereas dysthymia is a chronic condition. But dysthymia is depression, chronic depression – it’s a difference of duration, not of kind. Therefore, although SJW may not match the latest medications in period of efficacy, it may be effective if taken over a long period.

Therefore, I propose to take SJW for at least 2 months, and in “therapeutic” doses – Cenovis St. John’s Wort tablet formulation, 2g extract (dried flowering head) equivalent 1mg hypericum, x 5 per day. My only real issue is: should I be taking more?

I guess we’ll see what happens!