Ask anyone these days and they will tell you that Australia is experiencing an ‘Ice Epidemic’ – anyone that is other than those people who would actually know - those working on the front line in the drug user health services.
Interestingly with all the media attention that Ice has been getting you would think that the media would interview those people who represent the users – the Drug User Organisations. So I contacted and asked them and the majority of Drug User Organisations around Australia had not even been contacted or the ones that did found that the answer they got wasn’t as sexy as they had hoped – according to the front line- there is no ‘Ice epidemic’ and lets face it - that isn't going to sell newspapers!
The topic of 'Ice' is like Poverty Porn or Terrorism– no matter how gory or horrific the details get people can’t seem to turn away from it. Plus it’s so juicy to gossip about, because everyone “knows someone who knows someone” who’s on 'the Ice'.
Fortunately for The Abbott Government this sensationalism and mass hysteria acts as a convenient smokescreen for the Liberal government policy failures. If the Government can keep the public talking about 'Ice' then they don’t have to have the conversation about high unemployment rates, cut backs to services and the increasingly high rates of suicide and mental health issues in rural settings.
The latest news coming out of Australia is that Tony Abbott has announced a ‘dob in a dealer’ hotline. A $45.5 Million hotline. This is in a reported ‘response’ to the media circus and political freak show that has traveled around the country giving a voice to every concerned parent and ‘ex user’ from Lismore to Yuendumu to Elizabeth and Margaret River.
Julie Bates is a longtime drug law reform activist and current sits on the to the NSW User and AIDS Association (NUAA) board had this to say on the subject:
What about 'dob in a drunk,' far more drunk and dangerous people out theredoing harm to themselves and others than people using illicit substances.And, the statistics prove it. Until the Australian government fullyrecognizes a harm reduction approach to all kinds of substance use andkills the war on drugs, that kills people, they will continue to prop upillicit drug sales and labs and inflate the coffers of the criminaleconomy.
Prohibition has made drugs more potent and more profitable and the drug referred to as‘Ice’ is without a doubt an unintended by product of Prohibition.