Pubdate: Thu, 13 May 1999
Source: Illawarra Mercury (Australia)
Copyright: Illawarra Newspapers
Author: Ray Agostini
Note: Original posted


I refer to Lisa Carty's report "Drug room sends wrong message" (Mercury, May
5). The main aim of the needle exchange program is not to get people off
drugs, but to prevent the spread of diseases like AIDS and hepatitis.

Australia is a world leader in this field of prevention, thanks to
commonsense. People who don't take drugs any more are safer.

Many are now questioning the propriety of a church providing space for
injecting rooms contrary to law.

The Wayside Chapel's "publicity stunt" is a practical attempt to address a
dire problem while politicians and legal eagles offer the same tired
solutions: call a summit and have a good old chin-wag.

Jesus was put to death because he was considered to be a lawbreaker (John
19:7). The Pharisees watched to see if he would heal a man on the Sabbath.
He asked then: "Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath days, or to do evil?
To save life, or to kill?"

He then healed the man, and the Pharisees "went forth and ... took counsel
... how they might destroy him." (Mark 3;1-6).

Prevention is better than cure, but confusing messages are sent - that legal
drugs (alcohol and tobacco) are OK, but prohibited drugs are evil.

The National Drug Strategy Survey showed that in 1998, 0.7 per cent used
heroin (up 0.3), and 80 per cent (above 14) used alcohol (up 2.4).

Alcohol users also have legal "injecting rooms". We call them pubs and clubs.


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