Pubdate: Sat, 24 Feb 2001
Source: Daily Telegraph (Australia)
Copyright: 2001 News Limited
Contact:  2 Holt Street, Surry Hills, NSW, 2010
Fax: (02) 9288-2300
Author: Tony Trimingham
Note: Headline supplied by newshawk


The heroin issue in Australia is most complex, yet nevertheless continues 
to draw simplistic comments from people who are not always aware of the 
complexities. Piers Akerman's response to the current heroin drought is a 
classic case in point.

All parents would like to see heroin problems eradicated -- me included.

The current shortage has positives in possibly saving some people taking up 
the habit and forcing some people into detox or other treatment. Some of 
these will remain drug-free or stay on alternatives such as methadone.

But on the debit side of this drought we have up to 95,000 dependent and up 
to 350,000 casual heroin users. Not all will rush for detox facilities -- 
many are now using a variety of other substances such as cocaine and speed. 
These combinations cause more problems in relationships, families and on 
the streets -- more aggression, violence, crime and volatility. The heroin 
that is available is low in purity and high in price.

Many of those hammering on the doors of detoxes, methadone clinics and so 
on are finding long waiting lists or no vacancies. When supply returns, low 
tolerance will increase the risk of overdose death. This is why supply 
reduction is a mixture of good and bad news -- and is also why we need a 
balance of demand and harm reduction along with supply reduction.

Mr Akerman's comments about "indulgent parents" are repulsive to the 
thousands of heartbroken people who have or who still struggle with this 
complex problem.

Tony Trimingham,
Family Drug Support,
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