Alcohol and other drugs


Alcohol and other drug (AOD) related harms are major public health issues with significant costs for individuals, families and the broader community. A public health response across populations in general, targeted at those who are at increased risk and directed at risk-factors for harm reduction requires data for evidence-based interventions and relies on timely, complete and reliable data. Turning Point’s National Addiction and Mental Health Surveillance Unit (NAMHSU) National Ambulance Surveillance System (NASS) data is an important part of the public health evidence-base to reduce AOD-related harms.

This project utilises NASS data to examine harms and overdose of heroin, alcohol, pharmaceutical drugs and other illicit substances. Importantly, this project provides consistent, detailed and timely data on harms associated with alcohol and other drug use, not captured by other data systems. This national system, funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health through the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), was based on an ongoing project developed and implemented in Victoria. The Victorian arm of NASS is funded by the Victorian Department of Health, with project data informing policy responses and interventions that target alcohol and other drug use.

The Victorian arm of NASS is the flagship of NASS and the data are used by multiple government and non-government organisations to reduce alcohol and other drug related harms. For example, the Victorian Department of Health funds coding of Victorian NASS data and the collation of a number of other datasets in AODstats, the Victorian Transport Accident Commission (TAC) use NASS data to help understand road crashes involving alcohol and drug, the City of Melbourne relies on NASS data inform policy and interventions, and generating numerous reports for local government, state government and other stakeholders as well as peer-reviewed journal publications.

Project team

Turning Point team

Associate Professor Debbie ScottDr Rowan Ogeil, Ms Naomi Beard, Ms Jessica Killian, Mr Michael McGrath, Ms Amaya Muñoz Labiano, Ms Sarah Chislett, NAMHSU ambulance data coding team, database staff.

Learn more about this project


  • Ogeil, R., Scott, D., Faulkner, A., Wilson, J., Beard, N., Smith, K., Manning, V., Lubman, D. (2021) Changes in alcohol intoxication-related ambulance attendances during COVID-19: How have government announcements and policies affected ambulance call outs? The Lancet Regional Health-Western Pacific. July 22, 2021. DOI:
  • Wilson, J., Lam, T., Scott, D., Crossin, R., Matthews, S., Smith, K., Lubman, D., Nielsen, S. (2020) Extreme Personal Stress and a Lot of Pain. Drug and Alcohol Review. 10.1111/dar.13118
  • Dietze, P., Crossin, R., Scott, D., Smith, K., Wilson, J., Burgess, S., & Lubman, D. (2021) Coding and classification of heroin overdose calls by MPDS dispatch software: Implications for bystander response with naloxone. Resuscitation 159, 13-18.