Saturday, August 09, 2008

Police Say "Thank God" Youth Are Throwing Down Illegal Drugs Instead Of Alcohol

The day after the world's biggest Ecstasy bust goes down in Australia, this story appears with some fascinating insights on how police in one alcohol-soaked trouble spot regard the drug and its use by youth :
If it was not for the prevalence of ecstasy in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley, understaffed police say they would struggle to cope with the drunken violence.

"We're at the point where we're saying thank God 80 per cent of them are using an illegal drug rather than alcohol, even though in 10 years they'll be suffering manic depressive disorders," the officer said.

"But we just couldn't deal with that many people affected by alcohol."

Drug Arm national communications manager Josie Loth said it was well known that illicit drugs such as ecstasy were much more prevalent in the Valley than other parts of Brisbane.

She said although ecstasy was a stimulant it tended to relax people but alcohol had the opposite effect. "When certain people drink . . . it brings out more of a violent tendency, often leading to problems," Ms Loth said.

Australian Medical Association Emergency Department spokeswoman Alex Markwell said alcohol definitely contributed to a lot more injuries than drugs.

"Young men especially can become aggressive on alcohol and get involved in fights and assaults," she said.

"If people didn't drink we wouldn't see anywhere near as many patients as we do."

It's not all good news on the E, however. As police and health officials point out, the long-term effects of Ecstasy are as damaging as binge-drinking :

"The big thing a lot of us feel is that one of the most dangerous and insidious things about 'e' (ecstasy) is that most young people think it's not hurting them but every time they use it, it's hurting them a little," the officer said.

"We deal with them all the time; these kids who are now 30 or 40 who are suffering serious mental health problems as a result of their drug use in their 20s. Often it ends in suicide."

It's so very, very rare that we hear police talking honestly about drug use in society. We need more of it.

Darryl Mason is the author of the free, online novel ED Day : Dead Sydney. You can read it here