With yet another case of alcohol related violence occurring in the Illawarra, student research at the University of Wollongong is becoming even more important.

Nathan Connolly went in front of Wollongong Local Court yesterday for an incident last year. Connolly was celebrating his 25th birthday until an altercation involving his brothers, ended with him being capsicum sprayed. When a friend came to wash the spray out of his eyes, he drunkenly punched her in the mouth at which point police arrested him.

Connolly told officers he was ‘angry’ about being sprayed, and did not want the victim to give him water.

Naomi Dubber is completing an Honours thesis on The Role of Dysfunctional Attitudes in Recovery from Co-Morbid Depression and Substance Use Disorders at UOW, looking in particular at alcohol and drug use.

“Essentially alcohol lowers your inhibitions so I suppose there is that natural part of it, that if people are angry they’re more likely to lash out then be able to hold themselves back,” she said.

Dubber also works part time at Kedesh Rehabilitation Services in Berkeley, with patients who volunteer for treatment, as well as people who have been admitted for legal reasons.

“I suppose everyone is there one way or another because they’ve put themselves, or someone else at risk in some way, and they have decided, or someone else, which may be the legal systems, have decided they needed to do something about it.”

While the thesis looks at treatment in rehabilitation clinics, it raises the idea of bringing more specialists into clinics to help treat patients. Not only for helping them giving up their addictions medically, but treating the psychological reasons for their use.

UOW is also leading the way in researching the causes leading to late-night violence. The study that has just finished a research period is looking to see if things such as pre-drinking, illicit drug use and even consumption of energy drinks, can affect the chance of violence.

The project is being led by Lance Barrie the research manager at the Centre for Health Initiatives at UOW.

“The Wollongong site is actually part of a larger project that is actually led by Deacon University, and the project is funded by the National Drug and Law Enforcement research fund,” Barrie said.

While the survey included basic demographic questions such as: gender, age, and postcode, questions about pre-drinking were also raised, as there has been little information regarding the matter in current research.

“We were asking specifically about pre-drinking, and if that took place on that given night, and where it took place, and also how much was consumed prior to coming out to the CBD,” Barrie added.

The project is taking part in five sites including Wollongong, Geelong, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. Once all the information is collated from the survey, the report will be published with a hopeful date at the end of this year.

Words: Hayden Ferrington
Photos: Narbi Grennan

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