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Drugs crackdown only part of the solution

A move by Victoria police to toughen up on drug use is only one part of the solution to reducing harm caused by intravenous drugs says AMA Victoria.

An article in Sunday’s Herald Sun outlined measures being implemented by police to stamp out drug use, particularly around hotspots like Victoria Street Richmond.

According to AMA Victoria President Dr Stephen Parnis, police action is only part of the solution. 

“Law enforcement measures being untaken by police are important, but need to be part of a broader harm minimisation strategy”.

“Although prevalent around areas like Richmond, drugs are a problem across Melbourne and indeed state-wide”.

Dr Parnis believes that a combination of measures such as visible needle exchanges, rehabilitation centres and treatment programs can work to compliment community policing.

AMA has also called for a needle exchange programme to be trialled inside Victoria’s prisons, saying it would help to reduce the spread of blood borne viruses like Hepatitis C.

“Hepatitis C is a major problem in our prisons, 41 per cent of detainees have been found to have hepatitis C compared with only 1 per cent of the community in general”.

“The sharing of needles among the prison population contributes to these alarming Hepatitis C rates”.

Dr Parnis believes that drug use in the State’s prisons holds repercussions for the wider community.

“We are not trying to stigmatise rehabilitated offenders by highlighting this, but once offenders leave prison they can take these types of viruses into the community”.

“Needle exchanges are proven to make a difference when put in place in the broader community, but incarcerated users don’t have access such programs”.

“AMA Victoria believes that prisoners should have the same level of access to health care as the general population, this includes allowing them access to needle exchanges which are available outside of the penal system”

“Getting tough on drug use is one part of the solution to this problem, the other is to ensure that drug users have access to clean needles and can adequately dispose of used needles” said Dr Parnis.

For more information please contact Struan Robertson on 0437 450 506

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