drunks and junkies

Peter Debnam the new NSW Liberal leader has announced one of his first policy agendas if his party wins office in 2007 is to shut down the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) in Kings Cross.
From MSIC’s website.

"The MSIC aims to reduce harm associated with illicit drug use by supervising injecting episodes that might otherwise occur in less safe circumstances such as public places or alone. Specifically, it is anticipated that supervising such injecting episodes will reduce the risk of morbidity and mortality associated with drug overdoses and transmission of blood-borne infections, while providing ready access to safe needle syringe disposal. It is also hoped that by extending the circumstances in which health professionals have contact with injecting drug users (IDUs) more, particularly those most "at risk", will be engaged with the health and social welfare system sooner than otherwise. No drugs are sold or kept on the premises. Registered clients receive clean needles and equipment, and advice about their health."

Debnam you hypocrite.
An alcohol user gets your prayers, but drug usage…there’s no compassion or understanding for them.
Alcohol and heroin are both listed as drugs that result in physical dependence.
One is ingested, one is injected, either way they both end up in the blood stream.
Is your problem your prejudice or your personal preference? Can we take our drugs in a gin bottle, but not in a syringe?

Alcohol and drug use (including heroin) can both feature heavily in a para-suicide’s premorbid state.

"The role of drug abuse is very important in reference to the suicide risk increase (Garland & Zingler, 1991). It has been established that suicide risk is much higher in relation with alcoholics than people in general (Lester, 1993). Statistics show that the attempt and success in suicide among alcoholics ranges between 6% and 30%, though the tendency is around 20% (Monras, Marcos & Ramón, 1992). Statistics show that alcohol and other drugs are consumed in 20% of overdose attempts. Furthermore, a significant number of individuals consume alcohol some hours before they attempt to commit suicide (Freeman & Reinecke, 1995). Monras, Marcos & Ramón report that 2/3 of men and 1/3 of women have been intoxicated before the suicide act."

"Suicide risk is not related only to alcoholics. Research shows that drug consumers have had suicide attempts ranging between 25% and 50% (Martínez & Coraminas, 1991). Data from Spain show that 1 out of 13 drug abusers under 18 have had at least one suicide attempt, and the proportion increases for ages 18 to 24, to 1 out of 4 (Martínez & Coraminas, 1991.)" – Leonardo Aja-Eslava.

The role of alcohol and other drug consumption can be summarised in 3 points.

  1. Alcohol and other drugs determine a behavior deinhibition role to attempt suicide.
  2. The existence of affective disorders prior to alcohol consumption can trigger the disorder; or alcohol and drug abuse can generate affective disorders.
  3. Family, labour and/or social problems resulting from alcohol and drug abuse, may weaken the social support of the individual which increases the degree of vulnerability towards suicide.

Dichotomous distortions, the belief in diminished self efficiency, the perception of lack of control over circumstantial contingencies, when combined with other risk factors, such as alcohol or drug consumption, a weakened social support network, may trigger a high risk suicide situation, especially if a crisis is involved.

Debnam, if you are serious in your concern for the welfare of the opposition member for Pittwater and that of his family, then understand that harm minimisation will be employed by him and counselor to address his alcohol usage. He will need to adapt coping sretgies that don’e always involvealcohol. He will need support, undestanding and care. He will have good days and not so good days.

""Of suicide attempters 30-60% have blood alcohol levels of > 0.05 mg%." – Suicide and Mental Health Association International SMHAI

The MSIC is also a harm minimisation strategy. The difference when it comes to data relating to substance use and parasuicde come down to drug of choice. The MSIC offers a a drug user a safe, clean supervised place to use. They too need support, undestanding and care. They too will have good days and not so good days.

All citizens deserve the best in health opportunities and outcomes, this includes injecting drug users. When you consider your policies, don’t just focus on the personalised tragedy of your former leader, but also on all the lives of depressed, substance users. Men, women and their families, you don’t even know you are saving.

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One Response to “drunks and junkies”

  1. mgk: Machine Gun Keyboard Says:

    […] If you haven’t read Suki before, you’re missing one of the best women’s issues blogger in Australia.  Suki is a mental health professional and thus has unique insights to politics and particularly to politicians. Usually short & sweet in her posts, you can count on Suki to do the deeper analysis and to cut to the quick with her wry wit. When she does write longer essays, read carefully- she’s got something to say. Hypocrites beware- Suki bites! […]

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