Pubdate: Wed, 28 Nov 2001
Source: Australian Associated Press (Australia Wire)
Copyright: 2001 Australian Associated Press


Information on the impact of illicit drug use on families and the 
community was scant despite the mass of data on substance abuse, a 
new report has found.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) guide to the availability 
of data on the use of illicit drugs identified gaps in a number of 

"Illicit drug use is of international concern and has become a major 
cause of concern within the Australian community as it affects so 
many facets of society," the ABS said.

While plenty of information was available on the impact of drugs on 
users, the effect on families and communities was not extensively 

"There appears to be little national data which indicate the impact 
of illicit drug use on others," the ABS said.

"While many surveys have been designed to obtain information from 
users of illicit drugs, few surveys have been designed to gain 
information from those who do not use illicit drugs, regarding their 
experiences and knowledge of social consequences of illicit drug use 
by others."

The impact of substance abuse on social welfare issues was also a gap in data.

"There is little data on the extent and nature of the associations 
between illicit drug use and issues such as child neglect, violence, 
financial difficulties, social isolation, marriage breakdowns and 
homelessness," the report said.

The ABS also identified a lack of up-to-date information on the 
economic costs of drug use.

"There are considerable economic costs associated with illicit drug 
use and its consequences on the Australian community, borne by 
individuals, businesses and governments," it said.

"For example it is not possible to estimate the cost of ambulance 
services associated with illicit drug use because national data are 
not available on how often ambulances attend overdoses or accidents 
resulting from the use of illicit drugs."
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