Giving a Damn

(and getting a clue)

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Harms of Prescription Opioids – TGA is finally starting the Fix!

Governments have now quantified just some of the short and long term harms of misuse of prescription opioids, particularly in the OST (Opioid Substitute Treatment) Arena. It is way past time to look at evidence-based and successful drug-use exiting recovery therapies.  

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“Compared to many, my childhood was a cakewalk. Because your childhood beat you around and left you in pain doesn’t mean that you’ll continue the cycle. Let your hurt be the source of your greatest compassion, the deepest love and understanding. You can do anything. 

Walk through it, don’t numb or hide.

It’s been twenty-eight years since I stopped drugs and dedicated myself to a spiritual path, but those hard drugs I did, the heroin, cocaine, and meth, they hurt me bad, it took a long time to really recovery from ‘em. I hope for you that you don’t waste your energy there. 

Even the Weed. Man, I was way too damn young for that Shit, it made growing up a more difficult challenge that it needed to be. For years and years, I made the mistake of trying to run away, before I learned to surrender, accept my pain as a blessing, trust in the love, and let it change me.”

Acid for the Children,  ‘Flea’ – Bassist and co-founder Red Hot Chilli Peppers

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Family dinners build relationships, and help kids do better in school.

Eating together was a small act, and it required very little of us—45 minutes away from our usual, quotidian distractions—and yet it was invariably one of the happiest parts of my day

Using data from nearly three-quarters of the world’s countries, a new analysis from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that students who do not regularly eat with their parents are significantly more likely to be truant at school. The average truancy rate in the two weeks before the International Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a test administered to 15-year-olds by the OECD and used in the analysis as a measure for absenteeism, was about 15 percent throughout the world on average, but it was nearly 30 percent when pupils reported they didn’t often share meals with their families.

Children who do not eat dinner with their parents at least twice a week also were 40 percent more likely to be overweight compared to those who do, as outlined in a research presentation given at the European Congress on Obesity in Bulgaria this May. On the contrary, children who do eat dinner with their parents five or more days a week have less trouble with drugs and alcohol, eat healthier, show better academic performance, and report being closer with their parents than children who eat dinner with their parents less often, according to a study conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

In her book Eating TogetherAlice Julier argues that dining together can radically shift people’s perspectives: It reduces people’s perceptions of inequality, and diners tend to view those of different races, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds as more equal than they would in other social scenarios..

How then do we eat better, not just from a nutritional perspective, but from a psychological one as well?

“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art,” said the 17th-century writer François de La Rochefoucauld. What “intelligence” means in the context of eating is debatable. There are those who obsess over their food—where it is sourced, if it is organic, the nebulous desire for culinary “originality”—who are known in the U.S. as “foodies” and in France as generation Le Fooding, both of which are the hipsters of cuisine, moneyed and sometimes picky. But this doesn’t seem quite like “intelligence” as de La Rochefoucauld meant it.

Perhaps to “eat intelligently,” one needs only to eat together. Although it would be nice to eat healthily as well, even take-out makes for a decent enough meal, psychologically speaking, so long as your family, roommates, or friends are present.

It’s incredible what we’re willing to make time for if we’re motivated. (Although we often end up just a bit too squeezed to make it to the gym in the morning, we can still find time to go to the movies after work.) Perhaps seeing eating together not as another appointment on a busy schedule, but rather as an opportunity to de-stress, a chance to catch up with those whom we love then, could help our children do better in school, get in better shape, and be less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. Eating together also led children to report better relationships with their parents and surely relationships between adults can similarly benefit.

CODY C. DELISTRATY is a writer and historian based in Paris. He has worked for the Council on Foreign Relations, UNESCO, and NBC News. (July 2014)

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Royal Australasian College of Physicians

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

Australasian College for Emergency Medicine

Rural Doctors Association of Australia

Australian Medical Association

Australian Nursing Midwifery Association

National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia

Forensic and Clinical Toxicology Association

Public Health Association of Australia


Dear Board Chair/President,

I am writing as the Secretary for Drug Free Australia.

Drug Free Australia notes that your organisation has put its name behind Harm Reduction Australia’s and its auspiced entity Pill Testing Australia’s campaign for pill testing at festivals and clubs.

We are writing to your Board or management committee because we have spent considerable time examining the existing science behind party pill deaths in Australia and believe there is nothing in the science that lends support to pill testing.   To that end we wish to ask questions of your Board or Management Committee regarding your support for pill testing.

  1. According to a recent study of 392 MDMA-related deaths in Australia between 2001 and 2016 ecstasy was a direct/antecedent cause or a significant contributing condition in all 392 deaths. We note the study did not nominate any deaths from impurities or contaminants, nor were any synthetic drugs which can be cut with MDMA such as PMA or NBOMe listed as causal.*   Yet Pill Testing Australia, which your organisation explicitly supports, red-flags substances like N-ethylpentylone (which has caused zero deaths in Australia) with a red card which denotes “the presence of a substance known to be associated with increased harm / multiple overdoses / death” and yet irresponsibly gives a white-card “all clear” to the substance that has been causal in 392 deaths in 16 years. 

    Q. Will your organisation continue to give explicit support to this pill testing practice of giving a white card to ecstasy when it is the only psychoactive substance found?   If so, why?

  2. Pill testing Australia claims that in light of the dangers of ecstasy, which they acknowledge but still refuse to red-flag, their trained counselors and medical staff will highlight the dangers of ecstasy use, and attempt to talk the user out of ingesting the substance.   Yet at the April 2019 Canberra pill testing trial not one ecstasy user was recorded as having discarded their pill before leaving.

    Q. Does your organisation, in light of the 392 deaths in 16 years in Australia, consider pill testing’s failure to keep ecstasy out of the mouths of users after the horse has bolted via their investment in these pills, to be a successful harm reduction intervention?

  3. The police successfully deter a large potential percentage of party drugs from being ingested at music festivals just as mobile police radar vehicles deter a lot of speeding.   Compared to pill testing, police are far clearly more successful at keeping many users from bringing illicit drugs to a festival and then ingesting them.   This is a proven method for keeping pills out of users’ mouths.

    Q. Does your organisation disagree that policing is a more effective harm prevention than pill testing’s attempts at deterrence once a user’s pill has been analysed?   If not, why not?

  4. Pill Testing Australia is now looking to government to fund the considerably more expensive DART-MS technology which can detect purity and dose of substances in a pill, which their existing FTIR equipment cannot.   They believe that they can thereby better counsel their patrons on how to avoid overdoses.

    Q.1 Does your organisation differ with the most prominent harm reduction organisation in the world that ecstasy overdose is rare?   If so, why?

    Q.2 Given the graph below of the dose and subsequent peak MDMA blood concentrations of 49 ecstasy users studied in South Australia, (with the blue shaded rectangle denoting the blood concentrations of the lower 50% of Australia’s 392 MDMA-related deaths), do you agree that pill testing medical staff or counselors could reliably give better and more widespread information on individual safer dosing than can animated signage on main stage screens at festivals?

Drug Free Australia has shared the contents of this letter with more than 900 State, Territory and Federal Parliamentarians across Australia and we believe that they will be keen to hear your organisation’s answers to these questions.   We believe it would not be unreasonable for Australians to think that if nothing is heard within a three month period that your organisation has been unable to answer these questions.

If you wish to raise any issues with Drug Free Australia concerning this letter, please e-mail me at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or ring on 0422 163 141.

Yours faithfully

Gary Christians, SECRETARY
Drug Free Australia

*We note that there were only two possible deaths from ecstasy cut with another drug during this period, one in 2007 involving PMA and another on the Gold Coast in 2016 involving NBOMe.   It appears media were guessing at the drugs causing death in both cases.


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Health Care Professionals and Families Must Focus on Youth Substance Use Prevention

The peer-reviewed journal JAMA Network Open asked Robert L. DuPont, MD and Caroline DuPont, MD, President and Vice President, respectively, of IBH, to respond to a new research study by Bertha K. Madras, et al., "Associations of parental marijuana use with offspring marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol use and opioid misuse."In their commentary, Drs. DuPont note that this study showed that when parents used marijuana, their children had increased risk of using marijuana too. "This underscores the need for engagement by both parents and health care professionals in youth substance use prevention and parental substance use disorder treatment." Drs. DuPont then connect the findings to IBH's own youth prevention work:The association of parent use of marijuana with offspring use of marijuana and tobacco complements a recent finding suggesting that there is a common liability for substance use among adolescents. Among young people aged 12 to 17 years, the use of one substance is positively associated with the use of others, and non-use of any one substance is positively associated with non-use of others. There is also evidence that there is a large and steadily increasing number of American youth who do not use any substances, including alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana. More than half (52%) of high school seniors have not used any substance in the past month and more than one-quarter (26%) have not used any substance in their lifetime, up from lows in 1982 of 16% and 3%, respectively. Together, these facts can empower parents when they are educated about their own substance use choices affecting the risks of their children using substances. They can also inform health care professionals that no use of alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, or other drugs is not only the health standard for youth but that non-use by young patients is common and achievable. This commentary extends the work of IBH to set a new health standard for youth prevention of One Choice: no use of any alcohol, nicotine, marijuana or other drugs by youth under age 21. Drs. DuPont and the IBH team thank Madras, et al. for their important contribution in JAMA Network Open and thank the journal for the opportunity to share their insights on its implications for prevention and treatment.



Frequently Asked Questions of Why We Are Opposed to Weed!

Get ya head straight!

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Greater Risk Website - The younger they start the greater the risk...

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21 Be There - isn’t merely data sharing - it isn't about promoting a 'one dimensional' legislative solution to a complex problem

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off the wagon
Off the Wagon -
The National Organization of Students Against Substance Abuse was founded by students with the objective of creating a drug and alcohol free environment for students and society as a whole, and to get them back on the wagon.

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Institute for Behavior and Health

The Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc. is to reduce the use of illegal drugs. We work to achieve this mission by conducting research, promoting ideas that are affordable and scalable...

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The RiverMend Health Website - 
RiverMend Health is a premier provider of evidence-based, scientifically driven addiction medicine delivering world-class treatment through our nationwide network of leading addiction recovery experts and treatment centers...

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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
(SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.

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We provide a range of tools for educators to help deal with the issues of alcohol & other drugs
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