Monday, 28 September 2009

Fairfax Media Fights the Good Fight

I have noticed a few articles recently in the Fairfax Media that would absolutely never appear in the Murdoch trash newspapers. That’s aside from Miranda Devine’s usual assortment of far right rants. These articles are a welcomed relief from the often anti-drug mish-mash that the media tries to pass off as news. It’s not just that I agree with them, it’s because they are accurate and evidence based. Something that know nothing about. At least once a day there is some article in The Daily Telegraph, The HeraldSun, CourierMail etc. that simply ignores the facts about drugs and instead, plays on the public’s fear to attract readers. This is known as drug hysteria.

Prevention, Not Detention, In Drug Fight
By Julie Robothan - Medical Editor
Brisbane Times
September 2009

AUSTRALIA'S emphasis on law enforcement as the principal element of its illicit drug strategy is out of kilter with community attitudes, a survey reveals.

Most people believe the biggest investment should be in education programs to prevent people beginning to use drugs, with the remainder split equally among treatment programs, harm-reduction schemes and law enforcement, according to results from a representative survey of more than 500 adults in June by the drug policy group Anex.

But according to separate analysis from the Melbourne-based Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, about 56 per cent of the money the nation spends on tackling drugs goes to police and courts. Health initiatives such as overdose prevention and needle exchanges receive only 2 per cent of total funding.

More than half think the justice system will never solve drug problems, according to the Anex survey, which comes as the the National Drug Strategy's four-year cycle is about to expire at the end of this year. One-third of people believe those who use illegal drugs should not go to jail, although 45 per cent believe they should be charged with a crime.

Just 39 per cent believe drug use would never affect their family, and three-quarters agree that drug use is connected to other problems in people's lives.

The economic crisis and its effect on personal finances put more people at risk, said John Ryan, chief executive of Anex, which is funded by federal and state governments and philanthropic grants. "People are vulnerable, and that vulnerability often leads to problematic drug use," he said.

National statistics from 2008 show more than 2 million people had used an illicit drug in the previous year, with cannabis top of the list, followed by the misuse of prescription pharmaceuticals, ecstasy and methamphetamine.

Those who used drugs had much higher levels of mental illness, with 20 per cent of those who had taken drugs in the past month reporting high levels of psychological distress, compared with 9 per cent of people who had not.

The results - to be presented this week at the Australian Drugs Conference - showed public concern about the issue was as high as ever. "It is not receding," Mr Ryan said.

About 300 people died from a drug overdose in 2007.

The director of the Alcohol and Drug Service at St Vincent's Hospital, Alex Wodak, said there had been a gradual shift in community attitudes to illicit drug use over the years. ''People are increasingly recognising that health and social interventions are a much more effective, less expensive approach,'' Dr Wodak said.

''Law enforcement used to be a brilliant political strategy to get people re-elected, but times are changing and the fear-based approach no longer works.''

Related Articles:
The Warrnambool Standard - Professionals Call For Heroin Legalisation
The Age - Legalise Addicts' Heroin: Experts
The Age - Jury In On Heroin Ban

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Like my GP once said to me oneday-
If you want to know what the governments REAL drug policy is just read the Murchoch press.