Pubdate: 29 Mar 1999
Source: Illawarra Mercury (Australia)
Copyright: Illawarra Newspapers
Author: Tracey Todd

I have been observing with interest the ongoing social and political
commentary concerning the heroin debate. Why is it that the mention of hard
drugs causes such passion and quite often ill-informed opinions?

"Drug addicts chose that life" . . . is the often-heard quip, closely
followed by, "we should have tougher penalties such as jail and deportation".

In comparison, addiction to nicotine and alcohol, socially acceptable
drugs, cause more than 90 per cent of drug-related deaths each year and
incur higher medical and health costs to the community. Users of these
drugs also choose their poison, but no-one takes issue with the (albeit
minimal) health promotion and legislation offered to address these issues.

Heroin addiction is largely a medical condition, and attempting to solve it
with zero tolerance, or head-in-the-sand strategies, will continue to get
us nowhere. Working together to reduce all drug addiction in the community
and the direct link between heroin addiction and crime statistics is
essential. Employing strategies such as heroin trials is supported by those
in the know in the health community and is surely a more pro-active
approach to a huge social problem for the Illawarra.

I have great respect for people like Councillor Dave Martin for having the
political courage and the acceptance to address such a sensitive issue.


Mt Ousley. 
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MAP posted-by: Mike Gogulski