Monday, September 25, 2006

Seeking a Solution to Drugs

ken moroney
Originally uploaded by Sydney Weasel.
By Gary Hughes
Sweden has one of the lowest illicit drug usage rates in Europe. The number of 15-16 year olds who have tried drugs at least once is just six per cent, compared to a European average of 22 per cent. Sweden also has a lower than average rate of drug use related HIV. Its approach has been so successful, it’s just been put forward as model in a special United Nations research report. So what’s the secret to its success?


Weasel said...

Sweden has tackled the drug problem from both ends. It has tough penalties for drug trafficking and possession. Possession for personal use is limited to just enough drugs for one dose. And at the other end of the scale it spends large amounts on drug rehabilitation programs and education schemes for the young.

The tough approach to drugs in Sweden followed an earlier experiment with liberalisation. In 1965 Sweden’s National Medical Board authorised a limited number of doctors to prescribe opiates and amphetamines for addicts to take both intravenously and orally. The patients were free to decide on their own dosages. If they had finished with their prescriptions, they could easily request more drugs. Altogether, some 3,300,000 dosages of amphetamines (about 15 kilograms) and 600,000 dosages of opiates (about 3.3 kilograms) were prescribed in the two-year period from April 1965 to May 1967.

But rather than controlling the use of hard drugs, the experiment saw an increase in users. The proportion of arrested people showing signs of intravenous drug use rose in Stockholm from 20 per cent in 1965 to 33 per cent in 1967. Many of those receiving drugs on prescription were found to be supplying friends or selling them illegally.

Following the failed experiment, Sweden moved down the path of enforcement and rehabilitation with the aim of not just lowering drug abuse, but eliminating it. Legislation removed the discretion from prosecutors to decide whether to press charges, unless the amount of drugs such as cannabis or speed claimed to be for personal use could not be subdivided. Charges for possession of heroin, morphine, opium or cocaine were virtually never waived. Penalties for possession of drugs were increased, with one year minimum jail sentences.

At the same time Sweden poured extra funding into social programs for those most at risk of drugs. Social welfare authorities were also given the legal power to force users into six-month long detox and rehabilitation programs.

The result was a dramatic decline in illicit drug usage. The number of 15-16 year olds saying they had tried drugs at least once fell from 15 per cent in 1971 to three per cent in 1989. The number reporting they had used drugs in the previous month fell from five per cent to 0.5 per cent over the same period.

The trend was reversed briefly in the early 1990s, when an economic downturn in Sweden led to a cut in social welfare funding. But since 2000, the trend has continued downwards as new initiatives have been introduced. For example, needle exchange programs are allowed, but local health authorities have to run simultaneous programs to encourage drug abusers to seek treatment and offer detox treatment. Surveys of Swedish army conscripts found the number saying they had tried drugs at least once fell from 17.9 per cent in 2002 to 13.5 per cent in 2005.The number of problem drug users in the country fell from 28,000 in 2002 to 26,000 in 2003.

But Sweden’s tough stand on drugs has not been universally successful. While Sweden is well below the European average on most measures, it is only slightly below (0.5 per cent) when it comes to the number of problem drug users. To quote the UN report: “Swedish drug policy is highly effective in preventing drug use, but seems to be less effective in preventing drug users from becoming drug addicts. Nonetheless, it should not be forgotten that heavy drug use levels in Sweden are still below the EU average.”

The Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, says Sweden’s successful drug control policies were a model which other countries could learn much from.

“Societies have the drug problem that they deserve,” Mr Costa said. “In Sweden’s case, the commitment to prevention, law enforcement, demand reduction and treatment over the past thirty years has made a significant difference.”

That Costa quote would not have come from the NSW ALP.

The Sweden model sounds effective. I love the comparison with ‘65s effort. sort of highlights the “Were losing the drug war, lets surrender now” mob.

I’m waiting for the state governments to say “We are doing that already.” or “The state opposition won’t let us spend the money.”

I wouldn’t be placing too much store on Moroney’s ICE comments. I’ve heard schoolkids (completely unconnected to any employment I might/might not have) say to police “Personal use.” I don’t think NSW’s drug policy is very tough on drugs. I think there are education campaigns. An explanation of Moroney’s statement is an observation that he needs to say such things before the election campaign officially starts.

I think NSW errs on the side of the user. The shooting gallery ideas don’t strike me as ‘tough on drugs.’

For some, like Ryan, no amount of legal enforcement is acceptable. Such pro choice ignores the realities of many who don’t take drugs for many diverse reasons.

In fact, I think that some will take drugs regardless of the law, and such people need support and help (which I don’t feel a shooting gallery provides). However, some won’t take drugs while drugs are illegal. Seen in such terms, Ryans assertions regarding the ‘success’ of anti drug campaigns is irrelivant.

Anonymous said...

"SOMEWHERE there is a village missing its idiot.” - Anon

The quote comes from a bumper sticker I saw during a recent visit to the US and it was obvious from the messages on the other stickers plastering the rear of the SUV that its owners intended readers to understand it was a reference to George W. Bush.

Curiously, the line does not appear to be in the latest offering from former Opposition leader Mark Latham, A Conga Line of Suckholes, to be released today. Maybe because it could have too easily been applied to him.

The Sydney Morning Herald, a great booster of the former MP for Werriwa, yesterday published Latham’s explanatory introduction to the collection and his claim he kept a folder of sayings which had caught his eye over the past 20 years.

Flipping through the little compendium, it would appear to be little more than a gleaning and a bundling of previously published quotations with a few of his own unremarkable insults added.

The title comes from his derogatory description of those who support the US-Australian alliance and it’s probably a good thing that he saw fit to include it as it is unlikely to live on elsewhere, certainly not in any publication with any claim to provide intellectual benefit.

Often the quotes he includes are followed with an explanatory description of the speaker, such as `"Montagu was the fourth Earl of Sandwich, 1718-92, and John Wilkes, his sometime friend and member of the aristocracy’’, which lend to the impression that there is very little of any originality in Latham’s contribution.

In his longest offering, his introduction, the recalcitrant retiree bemoans, “the decline in Australian male culture - the loss of our larrikin language and values’’, which he blames on on a number of ``powerful influences’’ including a “crisis in male identity brought about by changes in the workplace and family unit; the rise of Left-feminism in the 1970s and 1980s, with its sanitising effect on public culture; and more recently, the prominence of neo-conservatism and its timid approach to social behaviour and language.’’

According to Latham: “Australian mates and good blokes have been replaced by nervous wrecks, metrosexual knobs and toss-bags.’’

He claims he saw many of them in politics and calls the trend “the revenge of the nerds, John Howard-style.’’ So there.

As the politically-correct revisionists were essentially Labor apparatchiks firmly rooted in the Whitlam-era of non-gender specific, non-judgmental policies, one can only conclude Latham formed his opinion using the same bizarre process through which he developed the policies which ensured Labor’s devastating loss.

Just as he can’t accept responsibility for that defeat, he cannot accept that it was the effect of the ALP upon the public service and the teachers’ unions which has stripped the Australian language of much of its colour.

A dead giveaway is the over abundant usage of the nauseating word “appropriate’’, and other cliched expressionsto designed to produce speech as bland as cold porridge.

Australian ingenuity will ensure the idiom continues to benefit from inventive speakers but the reality is that they were rarely found in academe, and most favoured pubs to politics.

The razor wit and rapier tongue of the shearing shed have gone, along with the barber who kept a tote and six o’clock closing, but most sports clubs can point to one or two true masters of the lingo, blokes who can tell a joke at opening time as easily as they can at the last call.

Latham, clearly isn’t one of these, having an ear largely for his own voice, and being a bit of bowerbird when it comes to the work of others.

But he wasn’t really one of the blokes, even when he was in Parliament, as his shortlist of close political intimates reflects.

Nor, it would appear, did he retain the friendship of those he had known at school or university, and certainly not those who went out of their way to help him ascend politics’ greasy pole.

The manner in which he divorced himself from Whitlam, who treated him as a son and whose seat he later held, still rankles among those who keep Labor’s flame and traditions.

The great worry is that in his forced retirement to home parenting he may see personal publishing as a new career.

His collection of quotations looks like a self-aggrandising work from a vanity press - and reads like one too.

It might have been better if he had just put out the Collected Insults of Mark Latham and Other Boofheads, but his inclusion of historical quotes, possibly in an effort to display his own self-perceived erudition, removes it from that genre.

Let’s hope the stay-at-home father doesn’t follow this up with Mark Latham’s Best Recipes or Gardening Tips.

In 1990, Paul Keating famously accused Wilson Tuckey of being “a dog returning to its own vomit’’ when Tuckey reminded him of unpleasantness relating to a former fiancee.

Latham, writing about his own remarks, deserves the same comment.

Weasel said...

More in the Left do understand how shamefully their fellow travellers have betrayed their alleged principles.

Today, for instance, former Vietnam War protester Kerry Langer asks the Left why on earth it’s against President George W. Bush’s strategy to protect us from terrorism by promoting democracy:

Those who oppose current US policy have failed to look beyond the superficial appearance of things to see the deeper reality. The pseudo-Left opposition is driven by a backward-looking victim mentality focused on complaining about how bad things are rather than on how to change them. Objectively they are united with the conservative Right, which is similarly beset by doom and gloom due to not yet having come to terms with the very limited options available to the last superpower.

Quite simply: It’s no longer possible for the US to hold back the spread of democracy and modernity across the planet. This is something that we on the Left should celebrate, support and take advantage of.

Ross Fizgerald then wonders why civil libertarians haven’t done more to defend the Pope’s right to free speech or to damn the Victorian Government’s oppressive vilification laws:

Why else is it that virtually all the law reformers squealing about the loss of free speech under Philip Ruddock’s anti-terror and anti-hate laws did not speak up for free speech a decade or two ago when governments really started to muzzle people for reasons of political correctness?

As we’ve seen in recent weeks with requests for freedom-of-information documents by this newspaper being knocked back by governments and the courts, free speech in Australia is under the hammer.

We have anti-vilification laws put in place by worthy do-gooders and minority groups that may well live to see the day when such legislation will be used against them.

How did the Left come to be against democracy and free speech? On the Insiders panel yesterday there was even tacit support for the Thai military coup.

Of course the Thai coup is, so far, bloodless. It isn’t about corruption, but money. This is a money grab by the left, who couldn;’t achieve government legitimately, and so didn;’t campaign, but campaigned against the result on the grounds of not having campaigned. No wonder the insiders approve.

I’ve noticed that lefty journos like to write virtues to conservative positions, claim it as really lefty, then pat themselves on the back for being clever. Fitzgerald and Langer can pat themselves on the back now.

Weasel said...

Played like a harp:

THE plot finally coalesced after years in and out of filthy Indonesian jail cells: equip a small outrigger for the long trip from Papua to Australia, fill it with people selected expressly for their likelihood of winning asylum and wait for the political fallout.

Expedition leader Herman Wanggai - now living in Melbourne after being granted a temporary protection visa in March - spent more than two years travelling to far-flung reaches of Indonesian Papua recruiting the best people he could find for the project.

Two other things were needed for this to succeed. First, Immigration officials who were too politically committed or too terrified of seeming nasty in these post-Rau days of repentence to dare turn these people back. Second, an active and irresponsible hate-Indonesia lobby of academics, churchmen, Leftist politicians and journalists who did not want for a second to question the claims of these"refugees" or ask what kind of dangers they truly faced back in Indonesia. To this day we still don’t know.

There are too many refugees in this world. We do them a poor service when we allow industry to build on their legitimate ambition for a future.

I applaud Howard’s leadership on this issue, and other conservative leaders. It seems strange, in this day and age, when the policy of the left is so exposed for the snake oil it is, that the federal opposition can get so much airtime for their policy vaccuum.

Weasel said...

Mark Latham has dived back in the toilet with his new book, A Conga Line of Suckholes, out tomorrow:

MARK LATHAM reckons the good old-fashioned Australian “bloke” is in crisis, and has been replaced by “nervous wrecks, metrosexual knobs and toss-bags”.

In his latest acid musings, the former Labor leader laments a supposed “decline in Australian male culture” which is “one of the saddest things I have witnessed”.

Actually, it’s the decline in the culture of one Australian male in particular that has been so sad. Who could have thought this skiting, foul-mouthed, erratic and hate-filled thug was only two years ago Labor’s choice for Prime Minister? Who are the Labor politicians that urged us to put ourselves under the leadership of such a man, and why should we trust a party run by people of such appalling and reckless judgment again?

Back to the book:

It is an eclectic collection, with gems plucked from Plato and Shakespeare through to Gandhi, Churchill and Stalin. There is a fair sprinkling of Lathamisms as well, though most of his own contributions stand out more for invective than wit.

Compare, for example, Churchill’s dismissal of his opponent Clement Attlee as a “sheep in a sheep’s clothing” with Latham’s line that “Howard has got his tongue up Bush’s clacker that often the poor guy must think he’s got an extra hemorrhoid."

The inclusion of quotations from people such as Shakespeare and Gandhi is doubtless to inform us that clever Mark has actually read improving stuff. The inclusion of his own quotatations informs us that it clearly didn’t understand a word of it.

As for Melbourne University Press, what on earth is it doing to its reputations, first publishing the ill-informed anti-Israeli drivel of Antony Loewenstein and now this sludge from Latham? Is it so hard up for a quick buck or has Jew-kicking and manure-flinging gone mainstream in the academia Left?

What? Oh.

I used to live in Latham’s seat. Some of the worst injustices I’ve endured in my life went ignored by him. Latham was never competent, but he was groomed for office by the ALP. He didn’t lose the ‘04 election, the ALP did.

Weasel said...

South Park stops laughing:

"That’s where we kind of agree with some of the people who’ve criticized our show,” Stone says. “Because it really is open season on Jesus. We can do whatever we want to Jesus, and we have. We’ve had him say bad words. We’ve had him shoot a gun. We’ve had him kill people. We can do whatever we want. But Mohammed, we couldn’t just show a simple image.”

During the part of the show where Mohammed was to be depicted — benignly, Stone and Parker say — the show ran a black screen that read: “Comedy Central has refused to broadcast an image of Mohammed on their network.”

Other networks took a similar course, refusing to air images of Mohammed — even when reporting on the Denmark cartoon riots — claiming they were refraining because they’re religiously tolerant, the South Park creators say.

“No you’re not,” Stone retorts. “You’re afraid of getting blown up. That’s what you’re afraid of. Comedy Central copped to that, you know: ‘We’re afraid of getting blown up.’"

Yet many southpark episodes blow everything out of proportion. Nature of comedy. I guess Islam isn’t funny.

Weasel said...

Perhaps there is more to this rumor than I first thought:

The fate of Osama Bin Laden was the subject of intense debate last night after a leaked intelligence report claimed he had died of typhoid.

But the document was quickly contradicted by a security source in Saudi Arabia - where the Al Qaeda leader was born, and many of his family still live - who said he was still alive, but extremely unwell.

The French security report claimed the terrorist mastermind died in a remote region of Pakistan last month.

But it would be a pity or worse if bin Laden didn’t die more shamefully.

I was disappointed in the manner of Pol Pot’s death. I would’ve preferred a hanging at the new Millenium. Or forced to endure a Kofi lecture, although I understand torture to be banned ..

Bin Laden can never die as shamefully as he has lived. But, though I gain such small satisfaction, let him die.