Stop Doing What We Know Doesn’t Work: Crystal Meth Addiction in Australia

“Ice” or crystal meth, is not only a problem in Australia, but it’s becoming an increasingly growing problem. Tragically, Australians are learning that the usual answers that are implemented to fight drugs and drug addiction are not working this time.

Currently, drug offenders in Australia are fined for their offenses. This punishment is supposed to make addicts stop and think before reoffending. The problem is that stopping and thinking requires reasonable thought and consideration of the consequences of actions. Crystal meth doesn’t exactly lend itself to this process. Neither of these is typical for drug addicts who are concentrating on their next fix and not much past that. What Australian magistrates want to do is find sentences that attempt rehabilitation and deter further offenses. But how to reach those goals?

In small areas of the country, some success is being found in an approach called “Therapeutic Jurisprudence.” This approach, called the “carrot and stick approach,” makes therapy a priority over legal rules and processes. In specialized drug courts, magistrates play an active role in monitoring offenders who are given a choice between jail time or therapy and rehab. Hopefully the offender will choose rehab, but if so, they have to walk the walk. One dirty UA (urineanaylasis) or other misstep and the offender finds him/herself back in detention. This approach seems to be working, but not enough people have access to it. It has shown similar promise in the United States.

Australians across the country are calling for an expansion of this program, asking government officials to find more funds to this program, allowing more drug users access to therapy and drug rehabilitation.

Magistrate Tony Parsons has said, ”It’s a scary picture out there because the increase in use of ice is dramatic and the behavioural effects, the violence, are severe.”



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