National Amphetamine-Type Stimulant Strategy 2008-2011
1.7 What issues were identified?
As indicated in the Background Paper to the Strategy, the literature review and consultation process indicated a need for a National ATS Strategy to address a range of issues, including:
- Diverse groups in the community are at risk of ATS related problems. Also, particular contexts of use create specific risks and related problems, indicating the need for targeted responses;
- ATS use is associated with a range of legal, familial, social, and physical and mental health problems. While a number of these problems can arise in relation to any drug use, many problems are ATS specific and require additional responses;
- Some evidence about the adverse consequences of ATS use has only recently emerged and there are still gaps in knowledge. Related to this, many people in the community and some consumers are either unaware of problems associated with ATS use or they underestimate the risks;
- The process of manufacturing ATS, and related distribution processes, are distinct from processes involved in other illicit drugs such as cannabis or heroin. The relatively straightforward manufacturing processes have resulted in both domestic and off-shore trade in precursor chemicals and ATS production. The characteristics of illicit ATS production and distribution have resulted in the need for ATS specific law enforcement responses;
- The manufacture of ATS involves procedures using toxic chemicals, posing risks to those involved in the production process, people around them, and law enforcement and other staff involved in clandestine laboratory disruption and site remediation. This indicates the need to ensure that the community is aware of the risks and workforce capacity and protocols are developed to prevent and reduce risks;
- Effective treatment for ATS problems will depend on the development of an evidence base, good access to treatment, and workforce and organisational development. It was noted that:
- Many people affected by ATS related problems either do not access treatment or have a tenuous link with services, indicating the need to better engage and retain people in treatment and develop innovative approaches to reach ATS users;
- Many of the treatments used for other drug related problems have relevance for people affected by ATS use. However, there are gaps in knowledge about ATS specific withdrawal and treatment strategies; and
- The infrastructure to support effective responses to ATS related problems is limited in some areas. For example, there is a need for more coordinated responses among the various services (e.g., law enforcement, drug specialist, general health and mental health services) and there is a need to build workforce capacity in a range of services.
Table 1: Illustration of range of responses for diverse target groups