According to a media release by the New South Wales parliament, the state government intends to do more to treat drugs and alcohol, as a parliamentary inquiry recently discovered was necessary.
The inquiry found that more needs to be done in the state to better respond to the needs of people seeking drug and alcohol treatment.
The parliamentary inquiry committee was established last November to inquire into and report on current alcohol and drug treatment policies and whether or not they are effective. The inquiry paid particular attention to deterrence, treatment and rehabilitation and their ability to address the high rate of drug and alcohol abuse in the state.
The Committee Chair expressed concern about the societal problems associated with substance abuse. It is for this reason that we need to continually consider ways to rid our society of alcohol and drug abuse.
A recent report released by NSW Auditor General Peter Achterstraat explained that the average cost of alcohol abuse to every household is more than $1500 annually and the cost to the state is staggering, at an estimated $3,7billion. So in addition to pain and suffering, alcohol abuse also has a huge financial cost to society.
The following excerpt from NSW government website explains,
Committee Chair, the Hon Marie Ficarra MLC, said, “It goes without saying that substance abuse is one of our most pressing social issues. The Committee believes that as a community we must continue to think about how we can respond to the scourge of drug and alcohol abuse more effectively.”
“The Committee has made seven recommendations all aimed at improving the lives of those with substance abuse issues. These recommendations relate to the development of a national approach to alcohol, expanding the treatment options available to treat opioid dependence, increasing the evidence base concerning the use of naltrexone implants, and encouraging the use of education in preventing substance abuse issues from developing” Ms Ficarra stated.
Ms Ficarra continued: “We have also recommended that the scope of the criminal justice system to effect positive change for offenders with substance abuse issues be increased and that funding levels keep pace with the growing demand for drug and alcohol treatment services”.
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The Inquiry also looked into the involuntary treatment of drug and alcohol problems. The program is intended for people whose addictions present an immediate risk of serious harm to themselves and/or others and who have lost the ability to make rational decisions regarding their wellbeing and for whom the likely outcome is death or severe impairment.
As part of the inquiry, the committee looked into evidence received for and against involuntary treatment. Some of the issues raised included high costs, the human rights issue and ethical concerns and the circumstance under which involuntary treatment would be necessary.
The committee discovered that evidence which supports the involuntary treatment is still developing. The committee then explained that more time would be needed before giving a reasonable evaluation of the forced rehabilitation option because at this stage it is still too early.
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