and Friends for Drug Law Reform
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
Submission of Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform (ACT) Inc.
List of recommendations
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.
The soundness of evidence for drug policy measures should be critically evaluated by
those with recognised qualifications in the particular disciplines concerned.
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.
Drug policy measures should promote the welfare of individuals and the community.
Drug policy measures should not intensify suffering in the cause of achieving the ideal
of a drug free society.
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.
Because it is much more effective, a greater proportion of funding should be devoted to
treatment and less to law enforcement.
The following principles should be applied in the management of drug addiction:
- include families in treatment regimes,
- reduce the stigma and shame that makes it doubly hard to overcome addiction,
- coordinate the provision of treatment services,
- ensure treatment services are non-punitive and non-judgemental, and
- provide an equivalent level of treatment for addiction as is provided for other health
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Objective and realistic evaluation and review of education programs based on evidence of
what works is essential.
- Australia should reject the tough law and order approach to drugs adopted by a number of
jurisdictions in the United States.
- Drug policies should contain a set of measurable social, health and economic objectives
and a specified process for continuing evaluation and review.
- Funding to implement drug policies should be on the basis of effectiveness as measured
against the objectives.
- A greater proportion of funding should go to favour health and social rather than law
and order programs.
- 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.