Pubdate: Wed, 7 Apr 1999
Source: Riverine Herald (Australia)
Author: Lucinda Fraser
Note: The following was sent in as a letter to the editor from Lucinda
Fraser, a year 10 student at St Joseph's College.


To all people favoring the proposed heroin trial:

NEWSFLASH! - In the words of Brian Watters, an addictions consultant to the
Salvation Army's Eastern Australia Territory, "Liberalising the laws is not
going to help!"

I'll bet most people don't realise that most heroin overdose related deaths
are among people 30 years and older and that coroners' findings in a large
proportion of the so-called heroin deaths in fact point to a cocktail of
drugs, usually including alcohol, as the cause.

Alcohol is the biggest killer after tobacco and represents more than six
times the deaths by illicit drug use.

You don't need me to tell you all this.

Brian Watters mentioned these facts, not myths, in an article in the Herald
Sun, February 25, 1999. He raised two excellent points in his piece: one,
that simply supplying heroin is dealing with only one element of the
problem, and two, that we need to recognise the good things that have been
done in the drugs field by the Victorian Government. And he is right.

As one Age reader, Jill Johnson, from Malvern, informs us, "our government
must obtain supplies, at taxpayer expense and responsibility, but from
where? Will our government buy heroin from the drug barons or the pushers in
the street, or go into competition with them and manufacture its own supply?
Or tender it out?" See how
many questions come out of just one element of the problem?

It is such a hard issue for the government to deal with and the sides in
favor and against such solutions will both always have certain winners and
losers. Despite what people say, the government doesn't just fly around to
exotic places, use taxpayers' money to buy lovely presents for the wife,
dream about more casinos, sporting events and other profitable projects,
while sitting on their backsides all day.

Sure, they may do that 90 per cent of the time, but what about the other 10
per cent?

They work, believe it or not.  That's what we elect them for, remember?
Which leads us to Brian Watters' next point.

Appreciate what the government does.  The Victorian Government has committed
$100 million to a range of innovative programs to reduce (drug) use.  That's
more money than what is used on travel rorts.

The Federal Government has invested $217 million on the National Illicit
Drug Strategy, to support research and alternative drug therapies such as
Maltrexone.  Melbourne's Turning Point is a leader in this field.  And then
there are the seizures of heroin and cocaine from Federal Police/Customs
efforts.  As Brian Watters pointed out,
there is a failure to recognise the comprehensive strategies in place that
will yield long term results.  We most certainly do not need this useless
heroin trial, especially when we have diabetics who did not choose to become
diabetics, unlike heroin users.

Apparently, though, we do need the trial, according to the Herald Sun.  Yes,
let's all place our futures with this tabloid, why not?  They certainly
don't sensationalise the issue and put 20-page "The Heroin Curse" special
reports in every paper they print, and they certainly never, ever print big
headlines will full page color  prints to sell themselves to the public,
because all they are concerned with is the public's future.  Great tactics,
Herald Sun ... absolutely fantastic!  Wonderful! Mmm hmmmm.

What people and the media, particularly tabloids like the Herald Sun need to
learn is that this issue over the heroin trials should no be turned into a
merry-go-round ride, complete with knee jerk reactions for the stops, when
more people jump on the bandwagon (eg - The Herald Sun's Insight special

You have to look deeper into the issue: liberalising the laws is not going
to help.  It won't help the addicts, the families of the addicts, the
friends of the addicts, or the general public "exposed" to the addicts.

Think of why people take drugs and how.

And why not ask the questions Kenneth Gee, a retired judge of the District
Court in NSW, asked in his article "Time for straight thinking about
mind-bending drugs".  To whom is heroin to be supplied?  To medically
verified addicts only?  At what age shall the first certificate be given? At
what stafe of the addiction?  What motive would the addict have for beating
the habit?

Heroin trials ... to be or not to be?  That is not the question.

Read into this issue more, do not be drawn into the tabloids ... and think
twice, thrice, before allowing this devil's advocate to roam free.  There
are already actions being taken, successful ones.  We do not need to
legalise (the using of heroin).  It simply will not work.

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