Australia is finding itself in a situation in which it has to rethink its policies on drugs. Many of the Commonwealth nation’s policies on drugs were set over the last 50 years or so, in response (at least in part) to three UN treaties. With each treaty came new regulations and prohibitions on drug use – some of which may have been rolled out faster than authorities on the ground were able to keep pace with.
The inherent problem here is that, in tackling problems with drug use amongst the population, authorities end up focusing on areas that are less likely to produce positive results. One study found that the various state governments of Australia spent a total of AU$1.7 billion in response to drugs in between 2009 and 2010. Of that, some 2% was allocated to harm reduction, 9% to prevention, 21% to drug addiction treatment, such as drug rehab clinics, and a staggering 66% to law enforcement.
Clearly, disproportionate amount of funds allocated to addressing problems with drug use in society are spent on capturing and and punishing users rather than creating drug programmes that can help those who would like to escape the cycle of use.
Another study has found that current funding for drug treatment programmes in Australia is only half what experts believe it needs to be in order to adequately address the problem. Indeed, the quality of care for drug treatment centres lags far behind that of other healthcare services.
Even prime minister, Tony Abbott, has acknowledged the frivolity of focusing on law enforcement rather than harm prevention, drug rehab and other forms of care for drug users. In April, he stated that ‘the war on drugs is … not a war we will ever finally win. The war on drugs is a war you can lose.’ Presumably, this is something we could benefit from pondering elsewhere in the Commonwealth, as well.
If you are interested in learning more about our drug rehab, contact the Providence Projects, a private rehab in Bournemouth on 0800 9550945 or fill out our enquiry form.