Use of drugs and alcohol by people of all ages is a long standing community issue. Since 1985 the keystone of the National Drug Strategy has been harm minimisation: potential harms are reduced by strategies ranging from total abstinence to reducing the risks for people or populations who continue to use.
All drugs are potentially harmful, whether they are legal (alcohol, tobacco, Panadol) or illegal (heroin, cannabis, speed). The risk is determined by three key factors and each influences the others.
- - The Person: their reason for use, their current mood, their health, their expectations, their gender and body mass.
- - The Substance: how it is obtained, whether it is smoked, injected or swallowed, the type of drug (stimulant, depressant), the quality and how much is used.
- - The Environment: where the person is, what’s going on, who else is present.