Problematic drug use (legal substances included) is a complex issue with many factors contributing to the harm experienced by those who use drugs, their families and communities.
Each year billions of dollars are spent on law enforcement, which will never entirely prevent the flow of drugs in the community. Not while there is still a raging appetite for the physical, mental and emotional effects of drugs.
Solutions to drug problems that rely on prohibition give rise to loss of workforce productivity through incarceration and lack of job prospects on release, unresolved drug and mental health problems, as well as disruptions to relationships with families and communities.
Our challenge is to find effective ways to promote health and wellbeing and reduce initiation of drug use. We also need to consider what it takes to keep people who use illicit drugs functioning as contributing members of our society, bridging the relationship between illicit drug use and labour market and economic participation.
Penington Institute acknowledges the importance of individual responsibility in relation to drug use, as well as the essential role of government and community to address risk environments that contribute to it.
This is an issue that also needs to be viewed from an economic perspective to ensure approaches are fiscally prudent and reflect the most up-to-date research about what works. At Penington Institute we believe we can, working with our networks and collaborators, find better solutions.
Penington Institute aims to offer fresh perspectives on what governments and civil society could do to improve the lives of all Australians.