Pubdate: Mon, 12 Mar 2001
Source: West Australian (Australia)
Copyright: 2001 West Australian Newspapers Limited
Contact:  +61 8 94823830
Author: Nikki Russell


YOUR correspondent Mats Andersson (Letters, 7/3) says "there is a very
easy way of not getting addicted to drugs - don't take them".

This seems like a rather simplistic view of the whole drug problem in
our society because, Mr Andersson, whether you like it or not, there are
people out there who are addicted to drugs and although these people may
have chosen to use drugs, there comes a point where their addiction is
such that the choice is no longer there and they are addicted. It's so
easy to tell people not to use drugs, but in reality this is never going
to happen.

I find it ironic that we all view the problem drug in society as heroin
when less than 2 per cent of the population actually uses the drug. I
believe we need to tackle the use of drugs such as cigarettes and
alcohol. These drugs are responsible for 71 per cent of all avoidable
deaths each year, and yet they are overlooked.

I find it sad and tragic when I see schoolkids smoking and drinking. It
seems to be fashionable and acceptable in today's society for kids to do
this. This experimenting as a child can lead to a lifetime of addiction
or death at an early age.

Our governments rake in millions from the taxes placed on alcohol and
cigarettes, but where does it go? It should go to fund education
programs to prevent the use of these drugs; it should go to families
that are torn apart by alcohol-related domestic violence; it should go
to fund nicotine patches to assist people to give up smoking; it should
go to fund programs on alternative ways to give up cigarettes; and, most
of all, I believe the money should go back into our public health system
which cares for people who are dying of illnesses related to the use of
alcohol and cigarettes.

I pose a question to you, Mr Andersson. Have you ever smoked a cigarette
or had a glass of wine? If the answer is yes, you, too, are a drug user.

Nikki Russell,
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