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Dr Jamie Berry to speak at Cutting Edge New Zealand

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Drug and Alcohol Practitioners’ Association Aotearoa-New Zealand (dapaanz) media release 1 September 2017

Dapaanz would like to inform New Zealand media that Dr Jamie Berry will be visiting New Zealand to speak at the Cutting Edge Addiction Conference in Wellington (6-9 September).

Dr Berry is a Senior Clinical Neuropsychologist and the Director of Australia’s Advanced Neuropsychological Treatment Services. He lectures at Macquarie University and the University of Technology, Sydney.

Dr Berry has developed research and clinical interests in addiction after specialising in neuropsychological rehabilitation for most of his career. His current primary research interest is the development, implementation and evaluation of neuropsychological interventions to promote better executive and other cognitive functions across a range of clinical populations.

The NZ Substance Addiction (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act

Dr Berry can also comment to media on why it’s important for New Zealand addiction service providers to be able to detect cognitive impairment, especially in terms of our new compulsory treatment legislation. The Substance Addiction (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act [SACAT] has replaced the Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Act 1966, and provides for the compulsory assessment and treatment of individuals who are considered to have a severe substance addiction and who do not have the capacity to participate in treatment of their own volition.

The introduction of SACAT requires a clear understanding of the concept of cognitive impairment, its causes and its potential recovery and/or treatment course.

A key criterion for compulsory treatment is that a patient lacks the capacity to make informed decisions about treatment for substance addiction, which is a cognitive process. A lack of such capacity may arise from impaired comprehension or retention of information relevant to the decision, poor executive decision-making skills or poor communication of any decision. Approved specialists are required to demonstrate that a patient has impairment in at least one of these areas to establish incapacity.

Another important purpose of the recent New Zealand legislation is to restore a patient’s capacity to make informed decisions about their treatment if possible. Once capacity has been restored and/or no other criteria for compulsory treatment are met, patients must be released from compulsory status. This requires reassessment of capacity during the period of compulsory treatment. Evidence of a brain injury during the period of compulsory treatment may warrant application to the court to extend the compulsory treatment order.

Dr Berry’s keynote address at Cutting Edge will address various methods by which cognition can be assessed within addiction services, from simple screening tools through to specialist neuropsychological assessment. His presentation will also review the nature of cognitive impairment and recovery, which may clarify some of the requirements of SACAT within addiction services.

Cutting Edge

6-9 September 2017, Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, Wellington

The Cutting Edge Addiction Conference is held each year in a different place in New Zealand and usually attracts more than 400 delegates from the addiction treatment sector both here and overseas. It is chiefly organised by dapaanz with support from the Health Promotion Agency, Matua Raki and the Ministry of Health.

The theme of the conference, Addiction is everybody’s business highlights the role we all have to play - from addiction counsellors and specialists to ordinary New Zealanders - in creating an integrated system of care that is truly responsive to people’s circumstances. It is in everybody’s interests that those experiencing addiction and their families/whanau receive the support they need to enter recovery.

Find out more about Cutting Edge at

Dr Berry’s presentations

A variety of approaches to the assessment of cognition within addiction services

Cognitive impairment is strongly associated with addiction treatment dropout and relapse. However, few tools exist within addiction services to identify cognitive impairment. This presentation will cover a variety of approaches to detecting cognitive impairment in addiction services, including: behavioural observations, screening questionnaires, cognitive screening tests and neuropsychological assessment. The pros and cons of each approach will be presented, together with a practical guide to their use and level of training required.

What to do next after identification of cognitive impairment

Saturday 9 September 9am, Workshop

Cognitive impairment is a major barrier to individuals getting the most out of addiction treatment. Cognitive impairment may result in ineffective processing of the information discussed in individual and/or group sessions and give rise to disruptive behaviours. Moreover, the main type of cognitive impairment in addiction services, executive function impairment, directly impacts a person’s ability to set goals, plan, organise, regulate emotions and behaviour, make decisions and solve problems effectively.

These executive functions are tools that increase the likelihood of overcoming addiction and evidence suggests they can be developed via specific interventions. A range of neuropsychological interventions for addiction services will be presented, from simple strategies such as psychoeducation through to more involved treatments including the description of a four-week structured cognitive remediation programme.

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