Develop a national strategy to effectively tackle the drug epidemic throughout Australia

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It is clear both our judicial and health systems are struggling to deal with the cyclic problems which are directly and indirectly arising from drug addiction. Drug addiction has reached a crisis level in our society, due to the percentage of crimes law enforcement deal with being drug related, with prisons overflowing and health systems unable to effectively address a plethora of mental health issues. There are insufficient professional drug rehabilitation centres and insufficient laws to protect and support people while their decisionmaking is impaired due to mental health issues which result from drug addiction. If drug addiction was determined as a disease and sufferers subsequently treated in rehabilitation facilities, rather than prison as punishment, we would certainly be attempting to address the associated problems more effectively through intercepting the addiction cycle. Serious money needs to be invested into intervention in the cycle ‘victim addicts’ find themselves in. I refer to ice addicts as victim addicts, particularly ice, because the sheer nature of this drug, finds an ignorant user addicted even after one go. While we know on one level from scientific research that the brain of ice addicts is severely affected, by the drug, one the most important being their decision-making, there is little support in place to assist this deficit while their addiction problems are being addressed. The current laws and associated punishments for behavior/crimes only add to the cycle, while not even addressing the problems behind the behavior. This includes our Mental Health departments – even the public hospital system, whose policies when short-term intervention is necessary is ineffective (medical practitioners would back this).

The Australian Government have stated from the 2015 National Ice Strategy, they will allocate serious money towards trying to redress this. However in four years since this report, little has been done within the judicial system or funding rehabilitation programs or compulsory and age appropriate drug education programs in schools for students as young as Primary level. It is stated in this report that drug education is provided in all schools and this is simply not true. Therefore, this issue should be important enough to hold an enquiry into effective treatment, which is then supported by laws, which do not only punish for drug related crimes, but successfully intervene in the cycle. Everyone waits for someone else to do something and from history we know that to petition Governments to actually change laws takes a great deal of courage by individuals willing to fight. We also know that politicians disenchant many people, because it appears a majority seek to line their own pockets and promote self-prominence without actually bringing about long-term change beyond their terms of office.

Drug addiction should be seen as a disease rather than a crime. Drug addiction should not be treated as a crime but a disease and therefore treated in specialised facilities. The Federal Government should determine this as a crisis and commence funding drug rehabilitation programs on a larger scale, modelled off successful programs such as initiatives which individuals, private facilities, Judges, organisations in states throughout Australia who are leading the way with alternative programs. Laws need changing to support holding a recovering ice addict in a facility, to support their inability to make sound decisions, until they recover – it takes some 2-3 months to visually see the drug lose some of its sardonic hold over a person physically and mentally, of course in reality it is much longer (in excess of 12 months). Currently under the mental health care act a person can only be held in the hospital for a few days if they are seen to be at risk. Ice addiction needs to be treated differently because of the sheer nature of the drug, its short and long-term effects.

My name is Christine and I am a concerned citizen who, apart from having a family member addicted to Ice and therefore have some first-hand experience of this societal problem, would like to be part of finding a solution to this. The past four years has been a roller coast ride for both myself and my family, while we tried to help our family member, searched far and wide for rehabilitation programs, became involved in the judicial, mental health care and medical systems in the journey. Throughout this process we have met many others, both victims of drug use and family victims also caught up in this tragic web. We have slowly watched the mental deterioration of our loved one and experienced frustration, worry and wept many tears. Ice is a drug like no other and due to its sheer destructive nature needs legislation to protect Ice addicts from themselves for a time and the community along with highly strategic and supportive rehabilition.