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Welcome to the 3rd edition of Drug Free Australia's update on Drug Prevention.jo

Shockingly, Australia remains one of the highest illicit drug using countries (per capita) in the world. Ice and stimulants like ecstasy are the main contributors to the bourgeoning community problems we are all facing. Smoked cannabis/marijuana is also a high contender - adding to our burden of disease and mental health issues.

With new and highly toxic substances now appearing on our streets (such as carfentanyl found in Brisbane in mid-February) we need urgent LONG TERM action to increase prevention education for our children and youth, (as well as for parents, teachers and frontline health workers). Take a look at this article http://www.9news.com.au/national/2017/02/17/12/28/one-touch-death-drug-seized-in-qld

Surely, if we can reduce tobacco use through continuous campaigns such as QUIT, and prevent our kids from getting skin cancer, with the SUN SMART campaign, we can do so much more to combat these highly poisonous drugs!

What’s happening with drug education in schools?
Drug Free Australia is planning to survey schools across the nation to find out the current status of drug and alcohol education including
• what programs schools are providing,
• how effective they are
• what issues are being addressed and how the programs are helping?
DFA is also keen to find out from schools that are NOT providing drug prevention and alcohol awareness programs, and WHY they may not be able to do so.
We will be partnering with other non-government organisations in this survey and will keep you posted. In so doing we will be able to provide a profile of drug education that IS WORKING in schools and communities over the coming months.

One Pill Can Kill - Teens’ hard hitting anti-drugs video goes viral
An anti-drugs film produced by a group of Co Antrim teenagers has gone viral, racking up almost half a million views. The graphic movie, entitled ‘One Pill Can Kill’, shows the deadly consequences of taking just one drug from a dealer.
Brooke Thompson from the Rathcoole-based group said they wanted to get their message to a wider audience - and they have certainly been successful, drawing in viewers from across America, Canada and England.

"I'm just hoping everyone understands how dangerous drugs can be and we've changed the community," said Brooke. http://www.itv.com/news/utv/update/2017-02-25/ni-teens-hard-hitting-anti-drugs-video-goes-viral/

Signs of a Meth Lab:
Although Methamphetamine (ICE) can be cooked in many different locations there are certain warning signs that may indicate their presence. They can be found in almost any location, from houses, apartments, cars, rental storage units and motorhomes. Some of the common warning signs of a suspected meth lab include:
• Strong odours (acrid, sour, ammonia, solvents, pungent)
• Windows covered with foils or plastics
• Renters who pay landlords cash
• Excessive trash and rubbish, evidence of chemical waste
• Unusual structures, curtains always drawn or windows covered with aluminium foil  
• Increased activity, especially at night
• Discolouration of structures, soil and pavement or driveway
• Increased security systems or other devices
For more information go to: http://methlabs.com.au/signs-of-a-meth-lab/

Just what does Prevention mean when related to illicit drugs?
Australia remains one of the highest illicit drug using countries (per capita) in the world, according to the United Nation’s World Drug Report. Prevention is usually the highest priority in most public health policies. We have already mentioned the success of the Sun Smart campaign to prevent skin cancer and QUIT to stop people smoking tobacco.

However, so far as illicit drugs are concerned, there is often a more ‘complex’ argument put forward – an argument that can serve to compromise the urgent need to prevent our kids from taking drugs in the first place. 
It will help to look at the definitions of prevention, used by most countries, in line with the United Nations Drug Control Conventions. Perhaps then, we can give top priority in this country, to an effective, sustained Prevention Policy.

The United National Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC)’s definition of ‘primary prevention’ is: ‘A way of preventing the initiation of psychoactive substance or delaying the age at which use begins. https://www.unodc.org/pdf/globalinitiative/initiative_activities_workbook.pdf

According to the UNODC and the World Health Organisation: ‘The primary prevention approach is key for responding to substance use among young people before they start using substances. In addition, this strategy could help to discourage or stop use in those who are already experimenting or using.

Primary Prevention is key to Demand Reduction. (If we reduce demand, we reduce the market for illicit drugs).
The term "drug demand reduction" is used to describe policies or programmes directed towards reducing the consumer demand for narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances covered by the international drug control conventions ….
Demand reduction programmes should cover all areas of prevention, from discouraging initial use to reducing the negative health and social consequences of drug abuse. They should embrace information, education, public awareness, early intervention, counselling, treatment, rehabilitation, relapse prevention, aftercare and social reintegration. Early help and access to services should be offered to those in need. http://www.un.org/ga/20special/demand.htm

Another UN source, which further explains the levels of Prevention and the importance of Demand Reduction:
• The term “demand reduction” refers to all activities aimed at reducing demand for drugs and includes primary, secondary and tertiary prevention.
• Demand reduction efforts should be integrated into broader social welfare and health promotion policies and preventive education programmes.
• Health promotion and primary, secondary and tertiary prevention together contribute to the overall aim of reducing problems associated with drug use.
• Primary prevention is directed at populations not currently using or not seriously involved with drugs. Such populations are much larger than those targeted by secondary and tertiary prevention; hence their potential for reducing rates of drug use in a jurisdiction is significant.. Primary prevention promotes the non-use of drugs and is aimed at preventing or delaying the first use of drugs and the transition to more serious use of drugs among occasional users. Most drug use begins during adolescence and early adulthood, when young people are developing cognitively and socially. For that reason, primary prevention is mainly directed at those life stages and those before them.
• Secondary prevention measures are aimed at reaching early those individuals who are seriously involved with drugs but are not dependent on drugs.

For more go to: http://www.incb.org/documents/Publications/AnnualReports/AR2009/AR_09_E_Chapter_I.pdf
For examples of Prevention that works, go to Drug Policy Futures : http://drugpolicyfutures.org/publications/

DFA