National Drug Strategy
National Drug Strategy

The National Drug Strategy 2010-2015: consultation draft

1. About the National Drug Strategy

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The National Drug Strategy provides a national framework for action to minimise the harms to individuals, families and communities from alcohol, tobacco, illegal and other drugs.

At the heart of the framework are the three pillars of supply reduction, demand reduction and harm reduction, which are applied together to minimise harm.

The 2010-15 framework builds on longstanding partnerships between the health, law enforcement and education sectors and seeks to engage all levels and parts of government, the non government sector and the community.

Australia has had a coordinated national policy for addressing alcohol, tobacco, illegal and other drugs since 1985 when the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse was developed. In 1993, it was renamed the National Drug Strategy. This 2010–2015 iteration is the sixth time the strategy has been updated to ensure it remains current and relevant to the contemporary Australian environment.

Mission: To build safe and healthy communities by minimising alcohol, tobacco, illegal and other drug related health, social and economic harms among individuals, families and communities.

Throughout this strategy, terms are used as follows:

Drug

The term 'drug' includes alcohol, tobacco, illegal (also known as 'illicit') drugs, pharmaceuticals and other substances that alter brain function, resulting in changes in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition and behaviour.

Illegal drug

A drug that is prohibited from manufacture, sale or possession. For example: cannabis, cocaine, heroin and amphetamine type stimulants (ecstasy, methamphetamines).

Pharmaceuticals

A drug that is available from a pharmacy, over-the-counter or by prescription, which may be subject to misuse. For example: opioid-based pain relief medications, opioid substitution therapies, benzodiazepines, codeine, and steroids.

Other drugs

Other psychoactive substances potentially used in a harmful way. For example: kava; or inhalants such as petrol, paint or glue.
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The harms from drug misuse
Harm minimisation
Age and stage of life
Disadvantaged populations
Settings
Partnerships
Successes of the National Drug Strategy
Challenges for 2010-15

The harms from drug misuse

The harms to individuals, families, communities and Australian society as a whole from alcohol, tobacco, illegal and other drugs are well known.
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Harm minimisation

Since its inception in 1985, harm minimisation has been the overarching approach of the National Drug Strategy. This encompasses the three pillars of supply reduction, demand reduction and harm reduction being applied together in a balanced way.
The National Drug Strategy 2010–2015 seeks to build upon this multi-faceted approach which is recognised internationally as playing a critical role in Australia's success in addressing drug misuse.

Figure 1 illustrates the approach that will be taken to implement the harm minimisation framework under the National Drug Strategy 2010-15: A number of sub-strategies sit under the umbrella of the National Drug Strategy 2010-2015. These sub-strategies provide direction and context for specific issues, while maintaining the consistent and coordinated approach to addressing drug misuse, as set out in this national strategy. In particular, the National Drug Strategy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Complementary Action Plan was developed to provide national direction on drug misuse issues that concern Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. There are also national strategies and frameworks in other sectors that are relevant to the work of the National Drug Strategy 2010-2015. These sub-strategies and relevant national strategies are listed at Appendix A.

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Figure 1 - Harm minimisation approach

This diagram is described in the section on harm minimisation
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Age and stage of life

It has long been recognised that people are at greater risk of harm from drugs at points of life transition, for example: transitioning from primary to high school; from high school to tertiary education or the workforce; when leaving home; and when retiring. The National Drug Strategy 2010-15 will also recognise the challenge of long-term drug misuse among adults and the new challenges that an ageing population may pose.
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Disadvantaged populations

Drug misuse can have a particularly significant impact among disadvantaged groups and lead to intergenerational patterns of disadvantage. For example:
Under the National Drug Strategy 2010-15, socially inclusive strategies and actions are needed that recognise the particular vulnerabilities and needs of these disadvantaged groups.

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Settings

Settings-based approaches are also a key feature of the National Drug Strategy 2010-2015.

More emphasis will be placed on schools, workplaces, licensed premises and communities as settings for possible preventive interventions on alcohol, tobacco, illegal and other drugs.

More attention is needed to address drug misuse among prison populations, the challenges of the prison environment for supply reduction but also the opportunities for demand reduction through education and treatment, and for harm reduction approaches. Attention is also needed to help prevent drug misuse from continuing or recurring when people leave prison.

The internet, as a key emerging medium for prevention and treatment approaches and as a potentially effective tool for reaching new or hard to reach settings, will also receive more of a focus (also see challenges).

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Partnerships

Since its inception, the National Drug Strategy has been underpinned by strong partnerships, particularly across the health, law enforcement and education sectors, between the government and non-government sectors, and among policy-makers, service providers and experts.

For 2010-2015, the health-law enforcement-education partnership will remain at the heart of the strategy. However, this partnership will be extended to other sectors as appropriate, particularly to help tackle the more complex causes and harms from drug misuse in the present environment (see also Part 6 Governance).

In relation to alcohol, partnerships will continue to be needed with liquor licensing authorities, local governments including town planners and transport authorities and local communities themselves to help reduce potential harms.

Strong partnerships – and integrated service approaches – with social welfare, income support and job services, homelessness services, mental health care providers and correctional services will be needed if people with multiple and complex needs are to be assisted to stabilise their lives, reintegrate with the community and recover from drug and alcohol problems.

Closer integration with child and family services will be needed to more effectively recognise and manage the impacts of drug misuse on families and children.

Ongoing partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will be needed to help reduce the causes, prevalence and harms of alcohol, tobacco, illegal and other drug misuse among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Finally, Australia needs to engage in international partnerships to maximise the effectiveness of law enforcement efforts, to learn and share best practice supply, harm and demand reduction approaches and to help enhance our regional neighbours' efforts to respond to the problem of drug misuse. Under the National Drug Strategy 2010-2015, Australia will continue to actively engage in multilateral fora for international cooperation on drug-related issues, including the World Health Organization, the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime, the Conference of the Parties to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The Australian Federal Police and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service will continue to cooperate with their international counterparts on drug investigations. Australian health and law enforcement agencies and non-government organisations will also continue to engage with developing countries, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, to provide assistance on drug issues where such assistance is needed.

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Successes of the National Drug Strategy

Since the inception of the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse in 1985, Australia has had major successes in reducing the prevalence of, and harms from, drug misuse.
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Challenges for 2010-15

Many challenges still remain. The following have been identified as priorities for 2010-2015:

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