Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform

committed to preventing tragedy that arises from illicit drug use

The other night I dreamed a dream
Letter to the editor by WM Bush published in The Canberra Times 1/1/1999 & The Age 2/1/1999

The other night I dreamed a dream. It was about 1999 and it was about drugs.

I wish that we as a community would refuse to tolerate drug overdose deaths. At present they rival the road toll. There should be none in 1999.

I wish to see children free to play in our parks and gardens without risk of needle stick injury.

I wish none to have their life turned to fear, anger and distrust by suffering a hold up at the hands of a drug user desperate to pay for the next hit.

I wish to see none of our homes violated and ransacked for the same reason.

I wish there to be an end to the hell of the many families that include a drug user. I wish none of those families torn asunder by lies, fears, violence and stealing within their midst.

I wish it to be known that there are things that can be done about drug addiction: that the veil of silence born of shame can and must be lifted.

I wish to see a wide range of treatments for drug addiction available when needed and not in 2 months, next month or even next week.

I wish drugs to be less available in the New Year by changing the law that presently ensures that their grass root distribution is in the hands of those who have the greatest incentive to sell and recruit new users: the users themselves.

I wish that 1999 will not be another year in which Australia wastes $10.3 billion on making a drug problem worse and enriches a set of Mr Bigs who are never likely to be caught.

I don't want us to have to build more and more prisons to house those put away for drug related offences.

I wish to see the elimination of the huge danger to children and all of us of hepatitis and HIV spreading by means of intravenous drug use in those prisons as well as in the community outside.

I wish it would be understood that addiction, any addiction, has its own penalties without the law adding to them; that addiction can provide incentive enough for anyone to regain control of his or her life without the need of additional threats of imprisonment, disease and death associated with an illegal activity.

I wish it to be recognised that there are things far worse than drug use namely the misery, disease and death brought about by our response to that use.

Yes, in short I wish that addiction to illicit drugs could be seen for what it is: just about the same as the addiction that many of us can have for alcohol, cigarettes, gambling and even the very food that sustains our life.

I wish we could look at addiction in the same way as we look at just about any other long term illness: while we may pray for a miraculous cure of a heart condition we live with a treatment that limits the impact of the disease.

I wish that in 1999 our politicians would be guided by solid evidence about what is likely to work rather than their ignorance, their fear or their prejudice.

W.M. Bush
Vice-President, Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform