'Overreaction' to party drug use
June 23, 2003
AUSTRALIANS were overreacting to the use of so-called party drugs among young people, a drug expert said today.
David Crosbie, chief executive of the rehabilitation program, Odyssey Victoria, and a member of the Prime Minister's National Drug Council said alcohol caused more problems than party drugs in the community.
A keynote speaker at the Inaugural Victorian Party Drugs Symposium held in Melbourne today, he said drug initiatives should focus on providing better information to reduce the harm done by the drugs.
"It's an incredible over-reaction that adults start throwing their hands in the air and saying 'Isn't it horrible that kids are using these drugs?' as at the same they are going out and getting drunk on a Friday, Saturday night," he said.
"I think we need to keep it in perspective. Of course we need to do things to try and reduce the harm that the kids are experiencing but let's not say there's this huge drug epidemic that's capturing our kids.
"It is a problem we need to address but there's a small proportion of people using these drugs. Many are using them relatively safely and what we need to try to do is make it safer."
Natalie Russell from Ravesafe, a Victorian government-funded education program run at rave parties and clubs, agreed drug initiatives needed to change direction.
"Being told to 'just say no' is not going to work so we need to look at these peer education, harm reduction programs out there in the scene," she said.
She said party drug use was on the increase, with people as young as 16 taking part.
"Every weekend somewhere in Melbourne there's a club event, there's a rave event," she said.
"Every weekend in Melbourne hundreds of people are using ecstasy, speed and other amphetamines and party drugs.
"So it's definitely growing and there's more and more young people coming into the scene as well."
Last year's National Drug Household Study showed one in five 20- to 29-year olds had used party drugs, while seven per cent of teenagers had used the drugs.