Recently, the discussion has again been enlivened discussing peripheral issues to reduce potential harm to those in our community who choose to use illicit substances.
While the debate is very welcome and harm minimization is one pillar to reduce the effects of drugs on our society, the key conversation we should be having as a community is to challenge the attitudes of many who consider the concept of perceived recreational drug use as being ‘okay’.
For me, and those who see the damage caused by drug usage, discussing these peripheral issues takes us away from the serious drug harms occurring privately and publically every single day.
Although simplistic, the basic reality is the only way people can avoid drug harm to themselves, their family, loved ones and the community is by not using drugs.
We must remember all drug harm, no matter how serious, started somewhere, in the family home, at a nightclub, the pub or the local sporting club.
As part of the Victorian community, police members spend their time dealing with people affected by drugs and the wider drug harm that ripples throughout the community.
It is not only the obvious tragic situations where police and ambulance staff are called to locations where people have accidentally or intentionally overdosed on drugs. Our police members also deal with drug affected people who commit assaults, engage in family violence, drug driving, thefts or other aggressive antisocial behavior daily.
More broadly, you don’t even need to use drugs to be touched by the damage they cause. Anyone who has had their car or home broken into knows the feeling of violation which accompanies these crimes, and we know all too often the proceeds of these crimes have been on sold to fuel a person’s habit for another day.
On a far too regular basis, our police members also have to inform families their loved ones have died in connection with their drug use or where an innocent person has died because of the reckless actions of a drug affected person.
Back in the day, as a homicide detective, I had the unfortunate responsibility of meeting a family irreversibly crippled by drugs. It had been a happy home, right up to the day the youngest boy took his first puff of cannabis.
Reviewed 13 February 2019