Australian Government Department of Health
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Complex patients and referral
What women want to know logo

For some women it can be difficult to stop or reduce their alcohol consumption, whether they are unable or unwilling to do so. These women should be referred on to specialist services and support groups where available for help and support.1 It is important to have support in place before advising women to stop or reduce their alcohol consumption as without support alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous to both their health and the baby’s health.

It is important to be aware of a woman’s life circumstances and how that may impact on her alcohol consumption. In particular alcohol use by pregnant women may also be associated with:

  • Tobacco and other drug use;
  • Poor nutrition;
  • Stress;
  • Poverty, housing and legal problems;
  • Low self-esteem;
  • Abuse or domestic violence;
  • Poor mental health;
  • Unplanned pregnancy; and
  • Addiction.2
Each State and Territory has an Alcohol and Drug Information Service available 24 hours a day. These can offer advice to the general public and to health professionals about drug and alcohol treatment services available in the region and arrange referral to services. Details of these helpline numbers can be found on the Referrals - Information lines for Health Professionals.

All alcohol and other drug services will have referral forms that health professionals can complete and fax or email directly to the service.

Alcohol and other drug services can be scarce in rural and remote areas. The woman may require transport to the nearest regional hospital to receive inpatient treatment services, or in less severe cases may be able to access telephone counselling. These issues can also be discussed with the relevant alcohol and other drug service.

1 Drug and Alcohol Office (2013). Strong Spirit Strong Future: promoting healthy women and pregnancies resource for professionals. Drug and Alcohol Office, Perth. WA.
2 Best Start, Ontario’s Maternal, Newborn and Early Child Development Resource Centre (2005). Preventing and addressing alcohol use in pregnancy: Participant handbook: supporting change. Ontario’s Maternal, Newborn and Early Child Development Resource Centre