‘The drugs don’t work, they just make it worse...’
Emily FitzpatrickStudent Number: n8910715Tutor: Dr Mangalam Sankypellay
Say No to Drugs, Yes to Life.

The “Say No to Drugs, Say Yes to Life” campaign has been created by the Drug Free Ambassadors of Australia, which is a charitable organisation under the Harm Prevention Register. This campaign is targeted at youth and adults and consists of anti-drug educational materials such as online books. This campaign informs drug users with facts about drugs so they can finally say no to drugs and help others around them do the same. The Drug Salvage Campaign has combined sources with the Drug Free Ambassadors to make sure the message about drugs sinks in.

Name Public Health Issue:

The public health issue behind this campaign is a message designed to promote safe living and inform other on the dangers and risks of taking drugs. “A drug is a substance, other than food, which is taken to change the way the body and/or mind function” (Australian Drug Foundation, 2013). Statistics show that in Australia, “38% of Australians aged 14 years and over had used any illicit drug at least once in their lifetime, and 15% had used illicit drug at least once in the last 12 months” (Australian Government, 2004, para. 10). Furthermore, it was estimated that in 2003, 8% of diseases in Australia was caused by tobacco use and 2% to illicit drugs. Due to the high statistics on drug use, the “Say No to Drugs, Say Yes to Life” was created to bring attention to the consequences of taking illicit drugs.

Literature Review:

According to Volkow (2007), “[d]rug abuse and addiction are a major burden to society; economic costs alone are estimated to exceed half a trillion dollarsannually in the United States, including health, crime-related costs, and losses in productivity.” (para. 1). This is why campaigns like the Drug Free Ambassadors of Australia have been created. The image below shows how being addicted to drugs is just like any other disease. It is preventable, it is treatable, it changes biology, if untreated, it can last a lift time and most of all, the image shows the difference between a healthy heat and brain compared to a unhealthy heart and an unhealthy brain. Therefore, just by seeing this image, it is obvious that addiction to drugs or other substances is a very important issue.

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The 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey shows that 10.3% of the Australian population use cannabis, 4.2% use pharmaceutical drugs for non-medical purposes, 2.1% use cocaine and 1.4% use hallucinogens (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2011). The most common drug use age is between the years of 18 and 29 is used mostly by males (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2011). According to the Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy (2011), due to the misuse of illicit drugs in Australia, it costs $8.2 billion per year. These costs included lost work place productivity, road accidents, crime and the health and hospital system. These statistics show that the misuse of drugs, abuse and addiction is an important issue relating to public health. With the increasing amount of drug use by individuals across Australia, it is confirmed that this is an issue that needs to be addressed. There are many reasons to why people take drugs in Australia, some of these include: to relax; to function; for pure enjoyment; peer pressure; to be part of a group; to avoid pain and general curiosity (Australian Drug Foundation, 2013).

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (2012) shows that long-term drug abuse has resulted in changed in the brain that persist long after an individual stops using drugs. “These drug-induced changes in brain function can have many behavioural consequences, including an inability to exert control over the impulse to use drugs despite adverse consequences—the defining characteristic of addiction” (The National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2012, para. 1.)
One of the most well known methodologies that are being used to reduce drug abuse within individuals is harm reduction. “Harm reduction is often made an unnecessary controversial issue as if there was a contradiction between prevention and treatment on one hand and reducing the adverse health and social consequences of drug use on the other. This is a false dichotomy. They are complementary” (Antonio Maria Costa, UNODC, 2007). Substance abuse treatment is focused on reducing or eliminating drug use and neglecting prevention of the adverse consequences of drug use. There have been many interventions focused on reducing the negative outcomes of illicit drug use in communities. “Harm reduction strategies have been increasingly recognised and rapidly incorporated into the drug treatment strategies and policies of Europe and other countries. Harm reduction has become, unnecessarily, a controversial issue. There is no contradiction between prevention, treatment, and harm reduction strategies” (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, n.d.).

Some strategies in this methodology include “supply reduction, community development, preventive education, treatment, and rehabilitation may work in the long term to reduce substance use. However, faster, evidence-based strategies are necessary to prevent the adverse consequences on current drug users, their families, and communities” (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, n.d.).

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Another theory which is situated around the sociological theory of someone who is a drug user creates a perspective around substance abuse where there has been seen to be a great emphasis around understanding the individual within a group setting (O’Keel, 2012).
Overall, according to Goode and McGraw (2012), biological theories can give someone an insight on specific mechanisms relevant for understanding a certain section of the population. Psychological theories help understand the willingness and potential for drug use. However, there are theories that is associated with the users personality characteristics or if they are subcultural in nature. Within a group setting, drug use is learned and reinforced and selective socialisation can explain entrance into a certain group. Involvement in the group can provide role models and rationales for continued and escalating use. Furthermore, different influences are critical at different life stages and impact the use of different drugs. It then seems to be a coherent pattern which can explain drug use, yet it is not simplistic, but complex, segmented and impulsive.

Cultural and Social Analysis:

In regards to taking drugs and the misuse and abuse of these substances, it is considered to be different to each individual due to personal circumstances, cultural beliefs and social environments. “There are two absolutely necessary preconditions for use—the predisposition, or motive and susceptibility, to do so, and the availability of one or more psychoactive substances. Each of these two preconditions is necessary but not sufficient to explain drug use. If a drug is not available in a particular locale, drug use is not possible— whether or not a predisposition to use is present” (McGraw, 2012, p. 59). Due to an individuals feelings, experiences, attitudes, beliefs and situations they may encounter, drug abuse can be seen to be a way out of situations they are facing in regards to social, individual and environmental surroundings.
According to the 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, unemployed individuals as well culturally and linguistically diverse populations have been found to have the highest prevalence of recent illicit drug use. (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2011). However, bisexual, lesbian, gay, transgender and intersex populations have been shown to be in higher risk of drug use as well as having more difficulty accessing drug treatment and accomplishing successful outcomes (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2011). Evidence has also been found that there is an association between social determinates such as unemployment; homelessness; poverty; family breakdowns and drug use (Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy, 2011).Drug use has been more common among young adults who are aged 18 to 25 years old. “Among these young adults, 16.4 percent used marijuana, 6.0 percent used prescription-type drugs, 1.7 percent used cocaine, and 1.5 percent used hallucinogens” (National Institute on Drug Abuse, n.d., para. 2).

In relation to people and drug use, indigenous Australians have been named who use drugs on a regular occasion. However, “[m]edia reports often stereotype Indigenous Australians as having drug and alcohol dependencies, however a greater percentage of non-Indigenous Australians drink alcohol than Indigenous Australians.While some Indigenous communities suffer from widespread substance use including cannabis use, excessive drinking, cigarette smoking and petrol sniffing, these problems are not exclusive to Indigenous Australians” (Reconciliation Australia, 2002, para. 4).

Illegal drugs do not only have large implications and dangerous health consequences, but they are a significant contributor to crime. “They are a major activity and income source for organised crime groups. Like alcohol, illegal drugs can contribute to road accidents and violent incidents, and to family breakdown and social dysfunction. Unsafe injecting drug use is also a major driver of blood-borne virus infections like hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS” (Collins, D., Lapsley, H., 2008).
Therefore, due to the rising problems that are occurring, it costs the society more and more each time. It has been recorded that “[a]buse of alcohol and illicit drugs costs society an estimated $276 billion annually. Substance abusers incur 300% higher medical costs than non-abusers. They are one-third less productive on the job and 2.5 times more likely to be absent from work either or more days a year” (Drug Salvage Campaign, para. 6, 2007).

Because of the rising statistics of drug use, treatment should be increased to help individuals fight the urge of having drugs. In Australia, there are many different options available for individuals suffering from drug problems. Some of these aim to help a person stop using the drug, where other programs aim to reduce the risks and harm related to their drug use. “Some states and territories have programs that refer people with a drug problem to treatment and/or education programs where they can receive help rather than going through the criminal justice system” (Australian Drug Foundation, 2013).
Overall, drug abuse is a result of an individual’s emotional state, personal circumstances, feelings, experiences, behaviours, cultural attitudes and social influences. When taking a drug, each individual can have a different reaction. “Some people are able to use recreational or prescription drugs without ever experiencing negative consequences or addiction” (Help Guide.org, 2013, para. 1).

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Analysis of the Artefact and Your Own Learning Reflections:

The cultural artefact used has showed and reinforced the topic of drugs and how experimentation, misuse, abuse and addiction with hazardous substances relate to heath and cultural concepts.The image used is a banner from the “Say Yes to Lift, Say No to Drugs” campaign, which is run by the Drug Salvage Campaign. It represents two different lives you could have. Firstly, it shows that you could either lose a life to drugs or secondly, live a happy, healthy life with your family. In addition, a video was used to reinforce the main issue that drugs can have a way of ruining your life. This is represented by the teenagers that have been shown in the video explaining why they’ve taken hazardous substances, for example, “they said if I got drunk, I’d be one of the guys” and “they said meth would help me get through my exams.”
By analysing this image and video, I have become more aware of the issues relating to drugs, more specifically, I have been able to research how many Australians use, misuse and experiment with drugs as well as individuals all over the world.

The alarming statistics shown in this research have showed me that this issue is of need of attention as it is a large concern. Ongoing implementation plans need to be put in place in order to reduce the number of drug users as “[a]ccording to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime's 2005 World Drug Report, an estimated 200 million people, or 5% of the world's population between the ages of 15 and 64, consume illegal drugs. This is an increase of 15 million drug users over the previous year” (Drug Salvage Campaign, para. 3, 2007). It is obvious that drug use among Australian’s is on the rise and it is very important for individuals to know the dangers and implications involved when using drugs. Furthermore, by having a large understanding of the personal, social and cultural effects that drug abuse can have on an individuals health, welfare and overall live, it may just turn someone’s life around as drug abuse does not just affect the individual abusing substances, but everyone else around them.

By doing this assessment piece and attending PUB209 lectures, it has definitely affected my learning and thinking process for the future. I have learned to analyse issues while keeping in consideration of culture, social constructs, social theory and historical social trends, but to keep an open mind about it while doing so. As a student who studied Socio- Ecological Perspectives on Family Health and Well-being last semester, it helped me analyse and understand these subjects even more and to not avoid a topic I had no idea about.

Reference List:

Australian Drug Foundation. (2013). Drug prevention and alcohol facts. Retrieved October 25, 2013, from http://www.druginfo.adf.org.au/drug-facts/drugs-the-facts

Australian Government. (2011). Ministerial council on drug strategy. Retrieved November 1, 2013, from http://www.health.gov.au/internet/drugstrategy/publishing.nsf/Content/mcds-lp

Australian Government. (2004) Statistics on drug use in Australia in 2006. Retrieved October 20, 2013, from http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=6442467962

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2011). National Drug Strategy Household Survey report. Retrieved November 1, 2013, from http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=10737421314

Collins, D., Lapsley, H. (2008) The Costs of Tobacco, Alcohol and Illicit Drug Abuse to Australian Society in 2004/05. Retrieved November 1, 2013, from http://www.health.gov.au/internet/drugstrategy/publishing.nsf/Content/DB4076D49F13309FCA257854007BAF30/$File/nds2015.pdf

Drug Salvage Campaign. (2007). Drug free earth. Retrieved November 2, 2013, from http://www.drugsalvage.org.au

Goode, E., McGraw, h. (2012). Theories of drug use. Retrieved November 1, 2013, from http://www.umsl.edu/~keelr/180/theordrg.html

Help Guide.org. (n.d.). Drug abuse and addiction. Retrieved October 20, 2013, from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/drug_substance_abuse_addiction_signs_effects_treatment.htm

Ministerial Council on Drug Strtegy. (2011). National drug stategy 2010-2015. Retrieved November 1, 2013, from http://www.health.gov.au/internet/drugstrategy/publishing.nsf/Content/DB4076D49F13309FCA257854007BAF30/$File/nds2015.pdf

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Why do drug-addicted persons keep using drugs? Retrieved November 1, 2013, from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/why-do-drug-addicted-persons-keep-using

O'Keel, R. (2012). Theories of Drug Use. Retrieved November 1, 2013, from http://www.umsl.edu/~keelr/180/theordrg.html

Reconciliation Australia. (2002). Drug and alcohol use by indigenous people. Retrieved October 21, 2013, from http://www.reconciliation.org.au/getfile?id=1114&file=100611%20Drugs%20and%20Alcohol%20QA%20(Final).pdf

The National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2008). Addiction research: a national imperative. Retrieved October 30, 2013, from http://www.cpdd.vcu.edu/Pages/Index/Index_PDFs/TransitionPaperOctober20081.pdf

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (n.d.) Reducing the harm of drug use and dependence. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://www.unodc.org/ddt-training/treatment/VOLUME%20D/Topic%204/1.VolD_Topic4_Harm_Reduction.pdf

Volkow, N. (2007). The national institute on drug abuse. Retrieved October 30, 2013, from http://www.cpdd.vcu.edu/Pages/Index/Index_PDFs/TransitionPaperOctober20081.pdf


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