Regional Victoria has seen a rapid increase in the use of methamphetamine over the last few years. Between 2010 and 2012, meth-related ambulance callouts rose from 130 to 590—a more than 300% increase. With this increase also comes increased levels of violence and anti-social behaviour. Over the last 14 months there have been 14 homocides linked with crystal meth use, the latest of which resulted in the death of a 24 year old Victorian woman.
Rather than continuing to fight a war, which our own Prime Minister has labelled as unwinnable, focusing our attention to legislation rather than prevention might just prove to be more effective. Twelve years ago Portugal decriminalized the use of drugs, and has since seen a dramatic decrease in addiction, putting Portugal’s drug usage rates among the lowest of all EU member states. The money spent on enforcing the previously criminal offences are now being spent on treatment and rehabilitation.
The statistics of a single country are by no means sufficient to draw conclusions, but they do give us insight into the potential of alternative strategies, rather than spending billions of tax-payer dollars on keeping them locked in cages in an attempt to win an unwinnable war.