“The Road to recovery w ill be a Bum py and Costly Ride The Road by lindayy


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									Date: 9th September 2003

The Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL) the national organisation
representing illicit drug users across Australia, is dismayed by The House of Representative
Standing Committee Report on the inquiry into substance abuse in Australian communities -
“Road to Recovery”.
While AIVL acknowledges that many of the recommendations support improving the lives of
injecting and illicit drug users, the core message of the report is that of zero tolerance. Ms. Annie
Madden, AIVL’s Executive Officer stated, “For some time now AIVL has been concerned about
the devaluing of harm reduction and the introduction of new terms such as harm prevention.
Sadly, this report is saying that the successful arm of Australia’s National Drug Strategy, harm
reduction that has saved and improved so many injecting and illicit drug users’ lives is being sent
to the scrap heap”.
AIVL has a strong history of advocating for injecting and illicit drug users health and human rights,
this report sadly is not pushing the principle of consumer rights and choice in health care. No one
treatment will be suitable for everybody and AIVL is extremely concerned about the Governments
continued disregard for the accepted evidence in relation to the need for a variety of treatment
options including heroin trials. Ms. Madden said, “Ignoring the success of methadone
maintenance treatment in favour of abstinence and the trial of Naltrexone implants, is not realistic
and will result in many lives being lost and harmed. It is vital that Australia remains focused on
harm reduction and individually focused drug treatment programs. We need to build upon our
successes and respond to what evidence says works, we know that methadone maintenance
treatment works and has achieved a great deal such as improved quality of life for users,
reduction in crime and it is cost effective.”
Australia is fighting an ongoing battle to reduce the continuing increase in the numbers of
injecting drug users contracting hepatitis C and while the report rightly recommends the removal
of the current detrimental legislation such as the self administration laws, to then introduce
abstinence based punitive treatment options is counter productive.
Ms. Madden concluded, “Many individuals and organisations including AIVL contributed to this
enquiry and it seems that some of what we said fell on deaf ears, Australia does not need to
move backwards we need to move forward. The Commonwealth and State and Territory
Governments need to hear and respond to the voices of injecting and illicit drug users, we are the
experts and we know what works. How much longer do we have to wait for rational drug policy?
Obviously the deaths and numbers of us with blood borne viruses is not enough. It is sad but true,
many more lives are going to be lost and the opportunity to save them has again been passed by,
AIVL feels sure we will look back on this in years to come not as the best of times but as the
worst of times.”

For further comment please contact Ms. Annie Madden – AIVL Executive Officer:
Mobile: 0414 628 136
Phone: (02) 6279 1600
Fax: (02) 62791610

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