Pubdate: Wed, 28 Feb 2001
Source: West Australian (Australia)
Copyright: 2001 West Australian Newspapers Limited
Contact:  +61 8 94823830
Author: Alan Brown


WHILE police forces Australia-wide are congratulating themselves on 
creating the most severe heroin "drought" in 20 years, it may be timely to 
consider what immediate effects are being felt on the streets by addicts 
and dealers.

The limited supply has forced the price of a street gram - enough to keep 
the average addict out of withdrawal for three to four days - up from $400 
to as high as $2000.

As a result, I know a female addict who has had to resume work in the sex 
industry to maintain her habit. A male addict I know has resorted to 
crushing, dissolving and injecting benzodiazepine tablets at the risk of 
blood clots, venous damage and even death. Others may have chosen to try 
raising the cash - attempting burglary or perhaps robbery with violence.

Meanwhile, the dealers who have access to supplies of heroin are rubbing 
their hands with glee as government law-enforcement policies enable them to 
generate their obscene profits at up to five times their usual rate.

Unless governments are willing to increase their investment in medical 
treatment for addicts by a similar factor, they will be reducing the drugs 
supply at the cost of a huge increase in harmful effects on our society.

Alan Brown, Tuart Hill
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