International Drug Users Day 2005

INTERNATIONAL DRUG USERS DAY – 1 NOVEMBER 2005

To acknowledge and celebrate 1st November as International Drug Users Day, drug user organisations from across Australia have organised a variety of events and activities in each state and territory.

“International Drug Users Day gives us a chance each year to highlight health, social, legal and human rights issues for people in our community who use illicit drugs” said Michael Lodge, President of the Australian Injecting & Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL). The most recent National Drug Strategy Household Survey conducted by the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare showed that in 2004 38.1% of Australians had ever used an illicit drug.

“This shows that when we are talking about people who use illicit drugs, we are not talking about a small number of people. We are talking about a significant proportion of the Australian population. People we know. People who are part of our community” added Mr. Lodge.

While the issues faced by different types of illicit drug users vary significantly depending on the drug used, frequency of use and prevailing community attitudes towards particular drugs, all people who use illicit drugs experience discrimination, stigma and unnecessary health problems as a consequence of the current government policies and laws in relation to illicit drugs.

“As a community we really need to ask ourselves whether we are prepared to pay to the increasingly high price in lives lost, money wasted and human rights violations associated with the global war on drugs. In reality it is a war on people. A war on our communities” stated Mr. Lodge.

The first ‘International’ Drug Users Day was organised and held on 1 November 1999 by Project LSD the national drug users’ organisation in the Netherlands. In 2004 over ten countries participated in International Drug Users Day including the Netherlands, Germany, England, Ireland, Demark, Belgium, France, Spain, Slovenia, Russia and Australia.

Theo van Dam from Project LSD describes the value of International Drug Users Day in the following way “Drug users have found this day very valuable. At least for one day in the year, there are no people looking at you with disdain, and one feels accepted as a 'human being', so to speak.”

As the national organisation AIVL is seeking media coverage of the day to raise the profile of issues for illicit drug users in the Australian community.