Illicit drug use has increased overall in Australia since 2010, largely due to a rise in the number of people who used cannabis, pharmaceuticals for non-medical purposes, cocaine and hallucinogens. (1)

A report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that males were more likely to use illicit drugs–except for pharmaceuticals in which the rates for males and females were in similar proportions–and males were more likely to engage in risky behaviours when under the influence. (2)

The study also found that mental illness continues to be the ‘highest among recent users of meth/amphetamines, ecstasy, cannabis, and cocaine’. Other adverse effects of taking drugs, depending on the amount/type drug taken and its combination with other substances such as alcohol, included drowsiness, aggression, impaired judgment, vomiting, unconsciousness, seizures and death. (3)

Illicit drug use has also been linked to a concerning rise in domestic incidents recorded by Victoria Police including assaults (up by 41%), rape (up by 39%) and abduction/kidnapping (up by 31%). (4) Other research has found that two in every three offenders detained by police tested positive to at least one drug, showing a strong link between drug use and crime rates.(5)

For these reasons we are totally opposed to the legalising of marijuana growing in Australia.

Although sold legally to adults, nicotine is a stimulant found in tobacco products and among the most addictive drugs known to man. (6) Research has concluded that smoking is the ‘largest preventable cause of death and disease in Australia’, contributing to a heightened risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, emphysema and many other debilitating and life-threatening illnesses. (7)

Rise Up Australia believes that the key to tackling the drug problem in Australia is early intervention. It has been found that ‘early and persistent problem behaviour, academic failure and low commitment to school were found to predict substance use’, making strategies to identify and assist ‘at-risk’ young people of utmost importance (8)

We are committed to implementing the following strategies:

  • Similar to our policy on ‘Alcohol Abuse’, legislation requiring offenders to undergo mandatory re-education and rehabilitation programs for crimes where drugs were a factor.
  • Education campaigns in school grades 5-12 to educate pre-teens and teenagers about the immediate and long-term effects of drugs, including real-life accounts of young people who were impacted by life-changing circumstances as a result of substance abuse.
  • In-school programs to identify struggling children, with stronger links to community sector organisations and child protection units to help assist families overcome issues that could contribute to immediate and long-term drug use.
  • Introduce/expand father support services in conjunction with community sector organisations to help fathers form healthy bonds with their children, where possible, and solidify the family unit as a whole.
  • Tougher legal penalties and greater police resources to shut down criminal syndicates that import, manufacture and distribute illicit drugs and/or cigarettes trafficked in the underground economy.
  • Widespread and ongoing media education campaigns on the health risks and social implications of substance abuse in collaboration with schools and youth organisations.
  • A ban on smoking in cars regardless of whether a child is travelling with the adult or not, a ban on smoking in all non-enclosed areas of clubs/pubs (i.e. beer gardens) and government subsidies for ‘quit-smoking’ programs.


(1) ‘2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey’, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=32212254712&tab=2 , retrieved 26 May 2014

(2) Ibid.

(3) ‘Drug Use in Australia’, Australian Drug Foundation, http://www.druginfo.adf.org.au/drug-facts/drugs-the-facts , retrieved 26 May 2014.

(4) Le Grand, Chip, and Ferguson, John. ‘Soaring family-related violence linked with drugs and poverty’, The Australian. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/soaring-family-related-violence-linked-with-drugs-and-poverty/story-e6frg6nf-1226464274339# , retrieved 26 May 2014.

(5) Payne, Jason, and Gaffney, Antoinette. ‘How much crime is drug or alcohol related? Self-reported attributions of police detainees’, http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/current%20series/tandi/421-440/tandi439.html , Australian Institute of Criminology (2012), retrieved 28 May 2014.

(6) ‘Defining Nicotine as a Drug of Addiction’, Tobacco in Australia, http://www.tobaccoinaustralia.org.au/chapter-6-addiction/6-1defining-nicotine-as-a-drug-of-addiction , retrieved 31 May 2014.

(7) ‘Smoking’, The Australian Bureau of Statistics, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4125.0main+features3320Jan%202013 , retrieved 30 May 2014.

(8) Toumbourou, John. ‘Drug Prevention Strategies: a developmental settings approach’. Centre for Adolescent Health, reported in Drug Info Clearinghouse, 2002, retrieved 28 May 2014.

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