Allan Takes Aim Blog

The problem of drugs

Posted on: 10 November 2010

First published The Chronicle, Canberra, Tuesday 9 November

Some people drink alcohol to suppress pain while some people take heroin or cocaine. Sadly, users of either drug who become addicted to them can go on to destroy themselves, families, friends and associates. A different category of drugs and particularly dangerous to young people are ‘party drugs,’ manufactured by unscrupulous people not for pain suppression but to cultivate addiction and make money from users.  

Many films and television programme have been made about addiction in which addicts have been shown in a drug – induced stupor. Fortunately however, some addicts even when in drug induced state of stupor show signs of realising that drugs not only destroys their lives they also destroys the lives of wives, children, family members and friends. Fortunately, some of them manage to develop the strength to combat their addiction successfully. Would there were more successes because, unfortunate as it is, the loss of social life can, and often does, lead to loss of life.

Hopefully, and unlike me, your only experience of this comes from these films and television programmes in which addicts are shown in scenes that leave little to the imagination, consuming either excessive quantities of alcohol or one of the many other drugs of addiction. While this might be considered great entertainment addiction to either alcohol or other drugs is not; it is a sad and serious problem if only because the entire range of drugs are being used by people formally educated, and in some cases educated by family experience, about the damage that drugs can cause.

It must be said also that while pointing the finger of blame for someone’s addiction is an exercise in futility, one question must still be asked: just how effective are the programmes aimed at preventing people from taking drugs or helping them overcome their addiction? While the question is easy to ask, unfortunately it has no easy answer. Had there been an answer (indeed, will there ever be an answer?) then it might have been possible to prevent three members of my family dying from their addiction.

While drug addiction is a sad problem perhaps the real sadness is that people on both sides of the argument about how to solve the problem are not only dogmatic about how it should be tackled but equally dogmatic that the solution each devised is the solution that should prevail. 

That said let me shift my focus to what I think is the most powerful and seductive drug in the world and the problems it causes. Neither pill nor liquid, it is nonetheless a drug whose effect can be even more terrifying and destructive than the manufactured variety. ‘Power’ is the name of this powerful and seductive drug from which few addicts are ever freed.

In common with some manufactured drugs, the power drug when used wisely can help create a better society; used badly however, it can destroy society. Of Canberra’s power drug addicts, some are politicians who manage to hide their addiction. Indeed some of these politicians are so wedded to the drug that only death can cure their addiction.  

To some extent the economic, health and social policies that politicians are responsible for, also create the problems of desolation, despair and inadequacy felt by people who resort to the use of alcohol or other drugs in an effort to combat them and often end up as addicts. At the same time, the legal policies politicians create make criminals of the addicts because they suffer from the disease of addiction. And while some people will say everyone faces these same problems. Not everyone has the capacity to combat them: even politicians have been known to succumb. 

Apart from politicians, some bureaucrats, not necessarily senior in rank, in both the public and private sectors are also addicted to power. These are the addicts to whom the adage ‘a little power is a dangerous thing’ is particularly applicable. And if an addict is at the top of the status tree their addiction is even more dangerous. Metaphorically speaking, wearing a hat that designates leadership means nothing if the wearer is addicted to power.

That said let me say also, that Canberra has too many power addicts.   

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2 Responses to "The problem of drugs"

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