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News (Media Awareness Project) - Australia: Healthy Image Up In Smoke As Nation Lives The High
Title:Australia: Healthy Image Up In Smoke As Nation Lives The High
Published On:2012-01-06
Source:Ridge News, The (Australia)
Fetched On:2012-01-07 06:00:37
Website:
http://www.theridgenews.c
om.au/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/5309
Author: Amy Corderoy

HEALTHY IMAGE UP IN SMOKE AS NATION LIVES THE HIGH LIFE

AUSTRALIA and New Zealand have a proud history of co-operation, but
now it seems the nations have achieved a more dubious honour: the
world's biggest pot-heads.

Together the countries have higher levels of marijuana and amphetamine
use than any other region in the world, according to the findings from
a series of papers to be published today in the medical journal The
Lancet examining global drug use and law enforcement.

In 2009 in Oceania, for which only data from Australia and New Zealand
was available, 10 to 15 per cent of people had used marijuana in the
past year, compared to 1.2 to 2.5 per cent in Asia, the region with
the lowest use. Between 2 and 2.8 per cent used amphetamines such as
speed, compared with 0.2 to 1.4 per cent in Asia.

The study leader, Louisa Degenhardt, from the National Drug and
Alcohol Research Centre and the University of NSW, said Australia and
New Zealand's similarity in drug-use patterns pushed Oceania so high.

a=80=9CThere are some countries with similar use to Australia but combined
with other countries in their region their average decreases,a=80=9D she
said.

The Americas averaged about 7 per cent, with North America on 10 per
cent.

Professor Degenhardt said supply issues could effect which drugs were
used in different countries, along with cultural attitudes. a=80=9CThe
more negative the attitude in general the lower the level of use tends
to be.a=80=9D

But while factors such as the numbers of people using drugs at younger
ages were linked to harm, more use had not been shown to directly
impact wellbeing.

Professor Degenhardt said getting accurate information could be
difficult in some countries where people feared coming forward. For
example, a drug survey in Burma was conducted by police.

Robin Room, the director of the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research at
the Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, said current international
drug treaties constrained Australia from experimenting with the
regulation of drugs or from adapting laws to the differing harms
caused by individual drugs.

His paper in The Lancet series argues in order to adapt such policies,
countries would have to withdraw from international treaties.

"At the moment we can have that political discussion but we can't make
the political changes,a=80=9D Professor Room told a briefing organised by
the Australian Science Media Centre.
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