What are the consequences of taking illicit drugs?

Michael Huggett



This image is illustrated by the National Drug Council for the anti drug campaign. The artifact shows the quote: “ask yourself what or who may be affected” in the picture with photos of family members and friends on the side. The message that this picture portrays is that drug use not only affects the user, but also their family, friends and our society. The user of the substance should take into consideration their family or future before using. The purpose of this wiki is to consider other options and the various effects that drug use causes to the individual, family and peers.


This artifact symbolizes the negative implications of illicit drug use and primarily the affects that it causes to their family and peers .Illicit drug use such as cannabis is the most commonly used drug in Australia, the use of cannabis has significantly increased over the years, since 2007 there was an increase of 9.1% to 10.3% in 2010, which was an increase of 1.6million to 1.9million. (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Canberra, 2011). People that use cannabis regularly usually develop a tolerance for the drug, consequently they have to continue using it more to get the same effect. (Australian Government Department of Health National Drugs Campaign, 2011). People that stop taking drugs may develop withdrawal symptoms and cravings while their body gets used to functioning without using the substance anymore. (Drug Info, 2013).


The use of licit and particularly illicit drugs is a major public health problem largely recognized throughout Australia with broader social and economic costs. The International Labor Organization estimates that 20-25 percent of all occupational injuries are a result of alcohol and drug use and 3-15 percent of fatal injuries are related to the same substance use. (anex, 2011). From the recent National Drug Strategy Household Report, there were an estimated 1.9million people from ages 14 and over who had used cannabis in the previous 12 months and more than 700,000 had used it within a week of completing the survey. (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Canberra, 2011). People ask the question: “why do people take drugs?” and is a very complicated question to answer with the different lifestyles people have. Essentially, the main reasons people abuse illicit drugs are for the following reasons; to fit in, escape their life or relax, relieve boredom, seem grown up, rebellious act, or to experiment. (Foundation for a Drug-free world, 2006). Some of these reasons for substance abuse may be considered a case of individualism as it may seem they are only thinking about themselves when using it and not their future or people who they might affect.

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The table above shows the recent drug use shaded in grey and the lifetime drug use shaded in black. As you can see, the highest drug use was marijuana/cannabis at 35.4 percent from people aged 14 or older in 2010. This is quite a large result as it accounts for more than 1/3 of the Australian population. Males are predominantly more likely to use illicit drugs than females with males being 43.2 percent and females 36.5 percent, respectively. These percentages are equivalent to 1.5million in males and 1.1million in females. (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Canberra, 2011). The estimated expenditure of illicit drugs in Australia is around $8.2billion annually, spent on criminal justice, hospitals and health. (Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy, 2011). Illicit drug use causes significantly negative impacts on people and Australian society. These negative influences include: transmission of HIV/AIDS through sharing syringes (generally used for heroin addicts), premature deaths, mental illnesses and increased crime such as domestic and public violence.

Drugs are essentially a toxin or poison that causes the effect by the amount taken by the consumer. Small amounts of a substance act as a stimulant that speeds you up, whereas a larger amount acts as a sedative and slows you down. Large amounts of drugs can even potentially be fatal and in some circumstances a small amount may be just enough to be fatal. Drugs directly affect the user’s mind and alter their perception of what is happening around them. As a result of these effects, their actions may be very consequential, irrational and destructive. (Foundation for a Drug-free world, 2006).

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This is a contemporary issue and major one in public health. The Australian government plans to reduce the use of illicit drugs and increase harm minimization by following a strategic framework. The framework shown in figure 2 has 3 key pillars that need to be corrected to ensure that there is minimal harm from substance abuse. This includes: demand reduction, supply reduction and harm reduction. These 3 pillars apply to all drug types, but in different ways. Supply reduction of legal drugs refers to the regulation of supply, but for illicit drugs would mean the disruption of the supply. Harm reduction applies to the actions and strategies implemented, primarily to reduce the adverse health, social and economic outcome of drug use. Finally, the demand reduction is to apply strategies and actions to prevent the endorsement and misuse of drugs in the community and support recovery or rehabilitation. (Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy, 2011).

There are two main reasons why people take drugs, firstly, the primary explanation for this being is that it has always been considered an addiction, which was formulated by early psychiatrists throughout history and which was sustained as the solitary motive for any illicit drug use. An interesting part of the appeal of addictions theories is that they short-circuit any additional discussion of reason: users may simply take drugs because they cannot do without it. This is contemplated as a clinical syndrome, metabolic craving or dependence for the substance, which is more common for long-term drug use and not experimental or recreational use. The secondary explanation for the reason as to why people take drugs is the motive of peer pressure. Generally this occurs more commonly in the youth as they may take it once to ‘fit in’ or take it out of curiosity, because it’s right there for them and then unfortunately leading into harder drugs. (Jay, 1999).


The culture and society are very important aspects to consider for illicit drug use. Often at times, the groups that are largely affected by the influence of drugs are predominantly a lot worse in the youth of our generation, in particular cannabis use. However, it all depends on the upbringing of the individual and the socioeconomic status that they live in, although drug use may be considered a ‘choice’ in most situations, they don’t know any better without proper education. Deprived areas in Australia are known to have an association with the use of particular drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine and these areas generally have high unemployment levels with more visible public nuisance from drug taking and supplying. (DrugScope, 2013). General population decides to believe in the theory of conservatism as it’s easier to trust something that is known than unknown, this applies to the theory that the youth don’t know any better or that indigenous communities will do drugs. According to Harrington (2005, p. 94) “conservatism is often outlined as a particular disposition that favors what is known and trusted, over and above what is unknown”.

With adequate education and training for these social groups, they can be educated to be brought up without using drugs or inflicting damage on their future or their family and friends. Drug awareness is very important and as an increasing trend throughout Australia, this makes it a serious public health issue. There is a lot of controversy with the use of illicit drugs; for example, some groups and communities believe that the use of cannabis is very beneficial, there are some speculations that suggest it prevents pain and illnesses such as migraines, ADD/ADHD and inhibits tumor growth. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that these speculations are true however. Most of society and the government believe that cannabis and illicit drug use is morally wrong and not suitable for legalization with the health affects it can bring. In the medical field, cannabis is used to help relieve pain for people with ailments such as cancer, glaucoma, and severe back pains. The battle for the legalization of marijuana continues to be a very controversial subject as the state governments views differ from the federal government. HEMP Party Australia suggests legalizing cannabis will provide medical treatment for the ill and other health benefits, they also believe cannabis will ‘supercharge’ the tourism in Queensland. (Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party, 2013).


‘Ask yourself what or who may be affected’ represents a very influential artifact that opens up to many that have planned on using illicit substance or have used it from past experience. This message portrays the affects of doing drugs as it not only affects the individual doing it, but also their family members and peers. I believe the image would get across to many people that have thought about using drugs in the past and it at least allows the individual to think of others more so than themselves. This piece of assessment has provided me with the knowledge that there are other options out there before resorting to drug use no matter how bad the consequences are. The statistics shown appear to be very heartening, however there is still always room for change. With the current framework that the National Drug Strategy 2010-2015 displays it can be a very affective method of utilizing harm minimization in Australia. With the current drug education campaigns providing knowledge on drug use and the harm minimization policies, I believe this can make a difference.

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Reflection 2


anex. (2011, September). Whole-of-government- Victorian alcohol and drug strategy. Retrieved October 28, 2013, from anex: http://docs.health.vic.gov.au/docs/doc/15F965229AC81CA4CA25794100805B63/$FILE/AOD113%20Anex.pdf

Australian Government Department of Health National Drugs Campaign. (2011, January 13). Problems using marijuana (cannabis). Retrieved October 28, 2013, from Australian Government Department of Health National Drugs Campaign:

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Canberra. (2011, July). Cannabis use, by sex. Retrieved October 28, 2013, from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Canberra: http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=10737421314

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Canberra. (2011, July). Illicit drug use, by age and sex. Retrieved October 28, 2013, from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Canberra: http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=10737421314

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Canberra. (2011, July). National Drug Strategy Household Report. Retrieved October 28, 2013, from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=10737421314

Drug Info. (2013, January 29). Drugs: the facts. Retrieved October 28, 2013, from Drug Info: http://www.druginfo.adf.org.au/drug-facts/drugs-the-facts

DrugScope. (2013, July). Is drug use mainly used in deprived areas? Retrieved October 30, 2013, from Drugscope: www.drugscope.org.uk/resources/faqs/faqpages/is-drug-use-mainly-in-deprived-areas

Foundation for a Drug-free world. (2006). Why Do People Take Drugs? Retrieved October 28, 2013, from Foundation for a Drug-free world:

Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party. (2013, September 29). Queensland. Retrieved October 30, 2013, from Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party: http://australianhempparty.com/state/qld

Jay, M. (1999). Why do people take drugs? The International Journal of Drug Policy , 10 (1), 5-7.

Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy. (2011, February). National Drug Strategy 2010-2015. Retrieved October 28, 2013, from Australian Government National Drug Strategy: http://www.nationaldrugstrategy.gov.au/internet/drugstrategy/publishing.nsf/Content/DB4076D49F13309FCA257854007BAF30/$File/nds2015.pdf