FDS Insight - Feb/May 2016
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10

doubled to 8260 annually over the past

five years. ‘I posited the question to the

police officers in the audience as to

whether this was something we should

be vigilant about in the coming years,’

Mr Dawson said later.

Few, if any, experts expect heroin use

to return to the levels of the late 1990s

and early 2000s, but any rise is

worrying as the drug is more likely to

cause fatal overdoses than either

prescription painkillers or ice.

Heroin ‘has been the most common

injecting drug here for more than six

months now and it hasn’t been for

years,’ said Marianne Jauncey, the

centre’s medical director: ‘It really is a

double-edged sword. The reality is,

from an overdose point of view,

prescription opiates are safer.’

The decision to make naloxone, an

antidote to overdoses, available over

the counter from next month could play

a vital part in responding to that threat,

Dr Jauncey said.

Heroin’s rise is also likely to inflame

tensions over calls to build Australia’s

second injecting room in Melbourne

following the success of Sydney’s

Medically Supervised Injecting Centre,

which has helped reduce the deaths and

disease associated with the drug.

Family Drug Support founder Tony

Trimingham said the number of phone

calls received relating to heroin had

doubled, to about 8 per cent, in the past

year: ‘We’re getting more and more

calls, and it’s not just Sydney; it’s

Canberra, it’s Melbourne and before

long it will be everywhere.’

While opium production across

Southeast Asia, the source of

Australia’s illegal heroin imports, is

higher than a decade ago, law

enforcement authorities believe crystal

methamphetamine, or ice, is a greater

concern today.

‘It’s something we certainly do keep

our eyes on – the issues occurring

overseas that can potentially impact the

market here,’ said Tony Cook, head of

the NSW Police Drug Squad.

‘We would never see heroin as not a

threat, but the current threat seems to

be meth, particularly ice.’

Australian Border Force chief

executive Roman Quaedvlieg said it

was too early to say whether heroin

was likely to make a sustained return,

but the next generation of illegal drugs

were more likely to be amphetamine-

type stimulants. ‘The advances in

chemistry, we’re watching it change by

the year now as opposed to by the five-

year mark,’ he said.

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