What’s new?

The SACS Brief Intervention

At Altered High we use the SACS questionnaire (Substances and Choices Scale) as a way to measure progress for young people going through the service (outcome measurement). It can also be used to identify potential problems (screening). More information about the SACS is available at www.sacsinfo.com.

The SACS questionnaire can be used as a starting point for doing a Brief Intervention. This is a short bit of treatment that can be effective in minimising harm and enhancing the chances of a young person engaging in longer term treatment. The SACS Brief Intervention is a step by step guide to doing a brief intervention using the SACS. It is also on the SACS website here.

Altered High has made a video which demonstrates a clinician doing the SACS Brief Intervention with a young person. You can watch it on YouTube here.


Solvent abuse can kill instantly

There has been some recent publicity about young people in Auckland being seriously harmed by solvent abuse.

It’s not scaremongering – sniffing and huffing is really dangerous.

Here are some of the more significant risks from abusing solvents…

  • Heart Failure (Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome) – ‘Sniffing’ can make the heart beat in an irregular way. If the ‘sniffer’ becomes excited, frightened or runs, the heart can’t cope, stops working, you collapse and can die.
  • Fatal Accidents – ‘Sniffing’  may make you do things without thinking in dangerous places. You might be involved in an accident like falling from a high building or being knocked down by a car, drowning, etc.
  • Suffocation – The mouth and nose can be blocked by a plastic bag (if you fall unconscious) Sometimes the oxygen in the blood is displaced by fumes or chemicals.
  • Choking – ‘Sniffing’ can make you violently sick. If you were to vomit while you were unconscious or drowsy you could choke on your own puke.
  • Explosions – Abusable products are usually very flammable and if they are used around naked flames they can set you on fire. They may even explode causing bad burns or even death. It’s really dangerous to smoke around solvents.

What would you do if your friend collapsed?

• Make sure there is plenty of fresh air and that it’s safe for you to help them

• Stay calm, remove any solvents

• Check their airway, breathing and circulation. Apply first aid if you know how

• Turn them on their side, (the recovery position)

• Get help or call an ambulance as quickly as possible

• Stay with them if you can and keep them warm and still.

Check out the website – http://www.re-solv.org

Concerned Parent and Caregivers Evenings

The evening provides an opportunity for parents/caregivers to talk about the impact of their teenager’s substance use on their family, home life & selves, about the approaches they have tried and ‘on top’ concerns in a safe & supportive place. It provides space to ask questions, gain knowledge on alcohol & drugs and youth development, explore parenting approaches, gather advice and guidance on potential strategies from the Altered High counsellors and from other parents. It also has a focus on how family look after themselves and self-care skills.

The details are:

– Runs on the 1st and the 3rd Wednesday evening of every month – 6pm to 7.30pm-ish

– We ask that people please call our Dutyline on 845 1893 on the date or prior to the date to let us know you are intending to come

– It is at our office in Kingsland – Level 2, 409 New North Rd, Kingsland.

We are on the corner of New North Rd and Bond Street. There is parking in the carpark behind just off Bond Street and you can come up the lift under the building. Be sure when you come to go to Level 2, as level 1 is the CADS Central Adult team.

The dates for the next Evening and rest of this year are:

# September 3rd and 17th

# October 1st and 15th

# November 5th and 19th December 3rd and 17th

We look forward to seeing you if you do decide to come along.

Kind regards,   CADS Altered High Youth Service

Altered High Primary Care project

Altered High Primary Care project

Altered High has a new project – the idea is to help GPs, school nurses and other “first-point-of-contact” health professionals know what to do when they have a young person who is using alcohol or other drugs in front of them. This might be just asking some questions about it, maybe doing a bit of counselling with the young person, and thinking about where to refer if it’s needed.

Ways we think we can do this are to talk with health workers, make sure we’re very available, provide training if it’s needed, and make it as easy as possible to know when and how to refer.

We are also keen to support young people to have more contact with their school nurse, GP or other health worker when they need it – or to help them hook up with a health worker if they don’t have one.

It’s all very new, and we’re quite excited about it – we’ll keep you posted about how it’s going.

Altered High Newsletter March 2013

Click this link for the latest Altered High Newsletter for your reading enjoyment. Copied below are some highlights from it.

Herbal smoking blends (AKA Legal highs, Kronic, K2…)

What are they? Essentially they consist of inert plant/vegetable matter impregnated with synthetic chemicals which act similarly to cannabis. These products are generally smoked, either on their own, added to tobacco and can also be burnt on tin foil, spotted with knives etc.

Safe? There can be large differences between batches in the concentration of active ingredients. This means that the amount needed to give the desired effect from one batch, may cause unwanted and possibly harmful effects from a different batch. Some young people report that these products are a lot stronger than cannabis and have caused them to hallucinate, feel anxious, speedy and feel depressed and moody.

There is no published safety data so people are experimenting with an untested and potentially dangerous product.

Drinking and driving and the law change…

Changes to the legislation regarding the number of drinks a person can have before driving are on their way.  From mid 2014 a person will be able to drink two to three standard drinks less before driving after Cabinet has agreed to lower the legal blood alcohol limit from 80mg to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood for motorists aged over 20.

“Alcohol impairment is a major cause of road accidents in New Zealand, with an average of 61 fatalities, 244 serious injuries, and 761 minor injuries every year caused by drivers who have been drinking” Transport Minister.

What does this mean for young people? Nothing! There has been no change for under 20 year olds – regardless of their license stature.   The legal drink drive limit for drivers under 20 years of age is a blood alcohol concentration of ZERO.


‘Get with it’ group

‘Get With It’ Group

CADS Altered High’s ‘Get With It’ group is a four week, one hour per week, drug and alcohol brief intervention group. We use a youth friendly approach to explore facts and effects of alcohol and other drugs, as well as motivational work, promoting safer choices and goal setting. This group is mobile and can be run in a location accessible for young people such as alternative educations, schools and community centres. If the group is run by a service provider who is registered with NZQA, then the group qualifies to award NZQA level one unit standard 548 (Demonstrate knowledge of management of alcohol and other drugs – 2 credits). The students also complete a brief one to one assessment with an Altered High clinician and follow up support is offered also.

Please make contact via 845 1893 or via contact form on the Refer to Altered High Page for further information or to book in for the ‘Get With It’ group.

Feedback please


We are currently asking referrers for feedback about our service. If you would like to provide this, please download our feedback letter and post back to us.

If you prefer, you can use the contact form on the Refer to Altered High page of this website to provide your feedback to the following questions:

  1. What are some barriers that might stop you referring a young person to CADS Altered High?
  2. What could we do better?

Thanks very much

CADS Altered High