The Australian Injecting & Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL) is the national organisation representing people who use/have used illicit drugs. To celebrate this International Drug Users Day we believe there are some things which drug users and the general public should know. And they are…
- Did you know that despite the public hysteria in relation to methamphetamine use, in particular the use of crystal methamphetamine or “ice”, Australian research shows that use of methamphetamines (in all its forms) has remained relatively stable over the past 5 years. There has been an increase in the use of the crystal form of methamphetamine but this represents a shift away from using the powdered form of speed – in short the Australian public is being misled by inaccurate and irresponsible media reporting. Recent research with crystal users has shown an increase in the frequency of use in some state and territories – but not all, and it is far from the reports of an “ice epidemic” that is spreading unnecessary fear through the community. AIVL says that we should respond to the use of methamphetamines with good harm reduction information and services and evidence-based drug treatment (including pharmaceutical treatment options) for those who need or want it. What we do not need is more of the same ‘war of drugs’ styled law enforcement approaches, stigmatisation of drug users or media hysteria!
- Did you know that the recent shift towards “abuse deterrent” formulations of opioid pharmaceuticals such as the recent reformulation of OxyContin has not led to a decrease in the use of legal or illegal opioids and has not reduced drug-related harms associated with using opioids. Indeed, evidence is showing that while such reformulations might result in people ceasing their use of the reformulated substance, people invariably replace that substance with another drug that often leads to more risks and drug related harms not less. Increased use of illicit street-based heroin and increased levels of overdose deaths are some of the risks and harms that have followed the introduction of these so-called “abuse deterrent” formulations.
- Did you know that driving under the influence of alcohol, even if you are under the legal limit, can put you at twice the risk of causing an accident compared to a driver under the influence of marijuana?
- Did you know that Australia, far from moving away from prohibition and the ‘war on drugs’, has been busy over the past few years entrenching this discredited and harmful approach including:
- a whole raft of new drug laws for ‘novel psychoactive substances (i.e. synthetic cannabis and Mephadrone etc.);
- increased penalties for methamphetamine related offences; and
- reductions in the quantities of drugs needed for you to be charged with supply and trafficking in some jurisdictions.
All this at a time when other countries are shifting to decriminalising and in some cases, legalising the use certain substances in the interests of the health and human rights of their citizens!
- Did you know that Australia has almost a quarter of million people living with chronic hepatitis C yet we are now one of the only economically developed countries in the world that has failed to negotiate access to the latest, most effective treatment drugs for our citizens living with hepatitis C? This is despite the fact that the newly available treatments have been shown in clinical trials to prevent liver cancer! AIVL must ask if hepatitis C mostly affected any other group in the Australian community than people who are or have been injecting drug users would we be seeing the same delays in access to such an effective form of treatment for a disease that can lead to cancer and where there is a treatment available that provides a cure in almost 100% of cases?
- Did you know harm reduction programs including high coverage needle and syringe programs combined with opioid substitution programs has the potential to decrease the transmission of hepatitis C by 80%. In spite of this during 2009/2010 $1.7 billion was spent on illicit drugs; however harm reduction expenditure was only 2% compared to 65% on law enforcement. Research shows that there has been close to a 50% reduction in the Australian Government’s investment in harm reduction since 2002/2003. If the Government won’t pay for treatment they must at least fund adequate prevention programs.