Compulsory detoxification and rehabilitation, along the lines of the model adopted in Sweden, is the answer to Victoria's burgeoning youth drug problem, says Peter Kavanagh, DLP candidate in the 2006 State Elections.
"We need strategies that are both compassionate and effective. Drug usage should remain illegal. Users, who are not trafficking, however, should be sentenced, not to jail, but to treatment. Can we do better for addicts than helping or even forcing them to get effective treatment?"
"One of the biggest problems for families and for young people with addictions to methamphetamines ("Ice"), heroin or other drugs, is that they don't have the resources and the knowledge to manage the detoxification and rehabilitation process. The existing law also leaves families legally powerless", Peter Kavanagh said.
"Some institutions, most notably those run by the Salvation Army, are doing good work but there are presently bureaucratic obstacles to treatment and insufficient resources. It will be expensive to establish the infrastructure needed to adequately support detox and rehab services but this is what we need to do," Mr Kavanagh said.
"In Sweden, police are empowered to take urine or blood samples from those suspected of drug problems. Police and parents are able to request Court orders mandating detoxification and rehabilitation. With other measures, the result is that now around 3 percent of teenagers use illicit drugs per year. The equivalent Australian figure is 28 percent. Compulsory detoxification and rehabilitation in Sweden appears to have been very successful. We should learn from what they've achieved and at least try to develop our own version of this response."
See also Dramatic changes to drugs strategy needed, below, for more detailed proposals.