Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform

committed to preventing tragedy that arises from illicit drug use

Inquiry into Substance Abuse in Australian Communities by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Community Affairs

Full submission is available here

Submission of Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform (ACT) Inc.

List of recommendations

  1. Existing and proposed drug policy measures should be continued or implemented only if there is sound evidence that they are working or are likely to do so.
  2. The soundness of evidence for drug policy measures should be critically evaluated by those with recognised qualifications in the particular disciplines concerned.
  3. Lack of scientific proof should not be used as a ground to reject trials of new measures if there is evidence that they could be effective.
  4. Drug policy measures should promote the welfare of individuals and the community.
  5. Drug policy measures should not intensify suffering in the cause of achieving the ideal of a drug free society.
  6. The Committee should identify the treatment delays experienced in each state or territory for government funded programs and recommend action that will reduce the delays.
  7. Because it is much more effective, a greater proportion of funding should be devoted to treatment and less to law enforcement.
  8. The following principles should be applied in the management of drug addiction:
  1. Those who are using drugs should be taught survival skills such as the avoidance of blood borne diseases by using clean syringes and avoidance of fatal overdoses by not using alone.
  2. In order to reduce the high risk of overdosing after periods of abstinence, special attention should be paid to providing transitional support on release from prison and on leaving abstinence based drug treatment.
  3. More funding should be diverted to interventions targeting users before they become entangled with the legal system, than to later interventions, such as drug courts.
  4. It is noted that police in many jurisdictions do not attend overdoses and often advertise this fact so that when a person does overdose, friends will be more likely to call an ambulance. The Committee should encourage all Australian police jurisdictions to follow this practice.
  5. Drug education is best delivered as part of an integrated syllabus of education in life skills by qualified educators or supervised by qualified educators. It should not be delivered by inadequately trained people.
  6. Objective and realistic evaluation and review of education programs based on evidence of what works is essential.
  7. Australia should reject the tough law and order approach to drugs adopted by a number of jurisdictions in the United States.
  8. Drug policies should contain a set of measurable social, health and economic objectives and a specified process for continuing evaluation and review.
  9. Funding to implement drug policies should be on the basis of effectiveness as measured against the objectives.
  10. A greater proportion of funding should go to favour health and social rather than law and order programs.
  11. At least the same effort should be put into identifying the enormous economic costs to the community of illicit drugs as has been put into the identification by the Productivity Commission of the costs of gambling.

Full submission is available here