More than 470 Victorians died of a drug overdose in 2016, figures released by the Coroner's Court on Wednesday show.
Chloe Booker on the ongoing growth in overdose fatalities (mostly involving opioids and benzos, but also MDMA, methamphetamine and other drugs) and the clear need for a greater investment in treatment services and harm reduction measures, such as a Medically Supervised Injecting Centre. You can see State Coroner Hinchey's opinion piece here: http://sco.lt/7oY87F.
A team of reporters armed with $20 lab kits have conducted the most thorough pill testing survey in Australia since 2005, highlighting the lack of anything better, according to drug expert Dr David Caldicott.
Highlighting both the clear need for drug checking services to prevent overdose deaths and the inaction of State and Federal Governments on this key public health issue.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government is reportedly planning to announce legislation that will legalise recreational marijuana use across the country.
The proposed measures, 18 would be the legal age for purchases, but provinces could set a higher limit. They would also allow for home production, with a limited number of plants. See today's related brief summary of Australian senate commentary on Cannabis policy reform: http://sco.lt/4sfeWP
THE numbers are staggering. More than seven tonnes of illicit drugs and their precursors. More than 2.5 tonnes of crystal methamphetamine, or ice, both here and in China.
Today's Herald Sun editorial. After some encouraging signs of a recent shift in the way the paper frames drug policy issues (with sustained support for the establishment of a MSIC in Melbourne), the paper has returned to type here, focussing on the size of police seizures, rather than the abundant evidence demonstrating the limited effectiveness of supply reduction measures. As in so many editorials before it, instead of recognising the failure of law enforcement to prevent supply, or affect demand for illicit drugs, the paper simply calls for more of the same. This is a failure of journalistic principles and a failure of leadership, with the Federal Govt continuing to frame drug policy as a criminal, rather than a health issue. We need genuine policy change, not more of the same damaging, ineffective (but politically popular) policy. Thanks to VAADA for making the content of the article available from behind the News Ltd paywall.
Secret tests of sewerage around Australia show methylamphetamine is the most popular illicit drug, with levels of use in WA far outstripping the rest of the nation.
As well as the figures on methamphetamine use, the wastewater monitoring report also highlights higher rates of fentanyl use in regional NSW, SA and WA. You can see the full report here: http://sco.lt/99mCzh.
The study found the Perth daily consumption average was one dose per 17 people.
National wastewater analysis data will provide a very useful indicator of changing patterns of illicit drug consumption across the country. While, as with any data, it will always be prone to misinterpretation (or selective reporting of findings), these reports will provide an important source of information for future policy and treatment service planning. You can see the report here: http://sco.lt/99mCzh.
Ben Cousins was in court, just another drug addict jailed for a year on just another day in courts across Australia. A drug addict like any other. Except he wasn't.
This is why sports reporters should (as a rule) stick to reporting on sport. Michael Gleeson here uses the phrase 'drug addict' eight times (not counting the headline) to describe Mr Cousins. While this is a particularly odious example of the deliberate use of derogatory terms to dehumanise a person who is alcohol or other drug dependent, the practice is as common as it is insidious. It undermines our ability to see people within this group as anything but a stereotype and as less deserving of our support. Due to his previous sporting success, Mr Cousins has received far greater attention than most other people struggling with similar issues, but the impact of this sort of stigmatising language and attitudes is universally felt. This experience of stigma has been repeatedly shown to contribute to AOD related harm and make it harder for people to seek support and maintain hard-won changes. Mr Cousins' case helps sell papers, but journalists need to be aware of the impact of their words on the lives of those who are directly affected by AOD dependence, both those people who are dependent and their loved ones.
A Wagga former ice addict has pleaded for a focus on medical treatment of drug users.
Mr Morris and the Wagga Police Superintendent Bob Noble explain the importance of treatment services, as opposed to imprisonment. You can also see Mr Morris' response to the ABC's recent 'Ice Wars' series, published by AOD Media Watch: http://aodmediawatch.com.au/.
Medical groups mounted a new legal bid Monday to break a US pharma giant's hold on a hepatitis C drug whose price—costing thousands of dollars for a typical course—has unleashed a fierce patent battle.
The latest example of Big Pharma players fighting over who gets the biggest share of the spoils while those in need of treatment are denied access to potentially life saving medications.
A Victorian school has axed an assignment which asked students to create "attractive" packaging for an illegal drug.
Not really that controversial. It's easy to see what the school is doing, and why a parent complained. There is certainly a debate to be had about age-appropriate discussion of AOD issues, but simply seeking to prevent discussion of the topic is unlikely to produce positive outcomes. If a year 10 student can work out the profit-making opportunities provided by the illicit drug market, it's an opportunity to discuss the impacts of our current policy framework, how it enables criminal (and, increasingly, terrorist) networks and how it contributes to increased harm amongst people who use illicit drugs.
A so-called 'Good Samaritan' bill that wouldn't criminally charge a person who is either having or observing a drug overdose and calls police for help has failed to advance in the Oklahoma Legislature.
This is a failure in political leadership. Given the overdose crisis affecting all levels of US society, political leaders should be removing barriers to people seeking assistance when a peer or loved one's life is in danger.
A report that ice is the most-used illicit drug may not be a surprise but the impact is truly shocking.
This editorial starts out looking like it's going to replicate the simplistic rubbish in yesterday's Herald Sun (http://sco.lt/77yKjh), but it actually shows a more informed awareness of the issues and ends with a recognition of the impact of stigma and the need for increased support services. The headline is unhelpful but this is better than most of media reporting since the release of the wastewater analysis report: http://sco.lt/99mCzh.
The ACT Government is approving an average of 50 new liquor licences in Canberra every year.
Citing FARE's Amy Ferguson on the community impacts of this level of growth in the availability of alcohol. See last week's related coverage of the proposed changes to the ACT's liquor laws: http://sco.lt/7h1HKj
MARK McGowan says tackling WAs meth epidemic is a top priority and work has already started on creating a Meth Border Force to crack down on the drug entering and spreading across WA.
Proving who was toughest on preventing methamphetamine supply was a big part of the recent WA election campaign. Expect to see more statements like this from the new McGowan government. See today's related coverage of WA findings in the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring report, released yesterday: http://sco.lt/7g6b7x.
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