Illicit Drugs: Harm minimisation

Essay by missdvsUniversity, Bachelor'sB, July 2006

download word file, 8 pages 4.3


Where the criminal justice system is concerned, the most significant impact of illicit drug use has been its association with other forms of crime and health (Ross & Polk, 2003, p. 133). Currently, Australian drug policy operates within a prohibition model, but in practice has developed, together with the criminal justice system and the government, a range of realistic harm minimisation strategies to deal with the issues surrounding drug dependence and crime (Makkai, 2000). This paper will begin by evaluating the current problem with illicit drugs in Australia today by recognising that not only is illicit drug use a primary health concern, it also has a considerable involvement with crime. Secondly, the history of Australian drug policy and prohibition will be briefly explored. The current approach of harm minimisation developed as a response to illicit drugs including supply reduction, demand reduction and harm reduction will be discussed and the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches will be evaluated to determine the success of these programs.

Lastly, a method of tackling the problem of illicit drugs using harm minimisation will be suggested.

Illicit drug use, including cannabis, heroin, cocaine, hallucinogens, amphetamines, and designer drugs such as ecstasy, is a primary concern in Australia today. The impact of illicit drug use and its association with various forms of crime has been the criminal justice systems major concern (Ross & Polk, 2003, p. 133). The establishment of the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia assists in understanding the drug/crime link, and it has been determined that between 13% and 45% of arrestees test positive for opiates, 52% - 65% for cannabis, and 4% - 14% for amphetamines (Ross & Polk, 2003, pp. 133-134).

These issues have attracted a high level of political and social interest. According to the Australian Institute of Health and...