Drug use among Australians is on the rise. In 2007, 13.4 per cent of people 14 years or older reported having used an illegal drug at least once in the past year.
In 2010, that jumped to 14.7 per cent. It again increased to 15 per cent in 2013. The world average, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, is just over five per cent.
South Australian statistics puts our drug use 0.7 per cent above the national average. Forty two per cent of Australians have, at some point in their lives, taken an illegal drug. Alarmingly, 27 per cent — over a quarter — of people between the ages of 20 and 29 had used drugs in the last year according to the same 2013 government survey.
These are the cold, hard facts. Drug use is rife and little is being done to stop it. No doubt there will people pushing drugs at Schoolies in Victor Harbor next month. Drugs are so accepted among many young people, the same people who frequent these music festivals, that they feel no shame or any need to keep their drug use hidden.
At school, a number of students made no attempt to hide to hide their vices. It was open discussion across the table. I’ve seen former classmates brag of their drug use online and even post photos of themselves with bongs and other such paraphernalia. One was just 14. Just last week I saw photos posted of social media by a student I knew from primary school, holding a handful of pills and saying they couldn’t wait for the weekend.
Drug decriminalisation campaigner Dr Alex Wodak is working on an “ice room” where meth users could smoke under medical supervision. One of their best techniques is to draw some equivalence between the damage caused by alcohol and illicit drugs and then pretend they’re no worse than each other.
First they had heroin injecting rooms. Now notorious drug decriminalisation campaigner and Australian Drug Reform Foundation president Alex Wodak is working on an “ice room” where meth smokers could roll up and have a puff under medical supervision.
There is also a continued push to allow pill testing at music festivals so would-be pill-poppers can check if there’s anything dodgy in the drugs they’ve just bought out of someone’s bag. It’s OK to take illegal drugs as long as they were cooked up in a clean kitchen, apparently.
What these pro-drug dopes ignore is that despite all their warnings of doom, hard line attitudes towards drugs actually work. In the ‘90s, Australia was one of the biggest drug using nations in the world. Our consumption was five times the world average.
We were in the midst of a heroin crisis that caused the deaths of thousands. John Howard instituted a “tough on drugs” strategy and lo and behold, it worked. Heroin use dropped by 75 per cent between 1998 and 2007 and cannabis use halved.
Drug use reached its lowest point in about 20 years at the end of Howard’s reign in 2007, a reduction the UN Office on Drugs and Crime attributes to hiss tough on drugs policy.
But it has all been picked apart and drug use is back on the rise. It’s time to resume the war.