Illicit Drugs: Harm Minimisation Essay

1972 words - 8 pages

IntroductionWhere the criminal justice system is concerned, the most significant impact of illicit drug use has been its association with other forms of crime and health (Ross & Polk, 2003, p. 133). Currently, Australian drug policy operates within a prohibition model, but in practice has developed, together with the criminal justice system and the government, a range of realistic harm minimisation strategies to deal with the issues surrounding drug dependence and crime (Makkai, 2000). This paper will begin by evaluating the current problem with illicit drugs in Australia today by recognising that not only is illicit drug use a primary health concern, it also has a considerable involvement with crime. Secondly, the history of Australian drug policy and prohibition will be briefly explored. The current approach of harm minimisation developed as a response to illicit drugs including supply reduction, demand reduction and harm reduction will be discussed and the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches will be evaluated to determine the success of these programs. Lastly, a method of tackling the problem of illicit drugs using harm minimisation will be suggested.Illicit drug use, including cannabis, heroin, cocaine, hallucinogens, amphetamines, and designer drugs such as ecstasy, is a primary concern in Australia today. The impact of illicit drug use and its association with various forms of crime has been the criminal justice systems major concern (Ross & Polk, 2003, p. 133). The establishment of the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia assists in understanding the drug/crime link, and it has been determined that between 13% and 45% of arrestees test positive for opiates, 52% - 65% for cannabis, and 4% - 14% for amphetamines (Ross & Polk, 2003, pp. 133-134).These issues have attracted a high level of political and social interest. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), illicit drugs are directly and indirectly a major cause of death and ill health. Medical conditions associated with illicit drug use are overdose, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, low birth weight, malnutrition, infective endocarditic (i.e. inflammation of lining of the heart), poisoning, suicide and self-inflicted injury (Standing, 2003, p. 149). The harm caused by licit and illicit drug abuse has an impact at every level of society from the individual person to the global community. A report on the inquiry into substance abuse in Australia was developed by the Standing Committee on Family and Community Affairs in 2003, and presents that crime associated with drug use is deeply concerning, adding to unease in the community (Standing, 2003, p. 6). The report further states that at a national level, the impact is visible in economic losses due to harm, diminished productivity, and damage to property. In addition, the services that governments put in place to address crime, trauma and ill health are costly. After realizing the issues that illicit drugs...

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