Taxpayers In Australia Fund Drug-taking tips

By Nick Papps,Herald Sun
December 15. 2003

A TAXPAYER-funded magazine is telling people how to inject drugs, use rock heroin and how to beat a drug test. The magazine, Whack, is produced by drug user group VIVAIDS and even includes a section on finding the best location to inject and tips on how to inject pills.

The organisation. which receives up to $580,000 a year from government, also has a website telling users how to avoid police questions. with links to pro-drug organisations. sex sites and pornographic video outlets. The revelations coincide with the release of statistics showing that Victorian health officials gave away 5.58 million needles in the past 12 months – up 827.000 on the previous year.

Critics claim the needles are being used for heroin start-up kits and health officials have admitted that they are concerned about the rise in needle numbers.

A Herald Sun investigation has also revealed:

    • INDIVIDUAL drug users are taking up to 400 needles each at needle exchanges.
    • SOCIAL workers say drug dealers are waiting outside prisons for former users.
    • THE Department of Human Services says increased heroin supplies and injection of prescription drugs are fuelling the rise in needle use.

Yesterday opposition leader Robert Doyle slammed VIVAAIDS and said its funding should be halted over the magazine.

“The articles in the magazine encourage efficient drug use.” Mr Doyle said.

“The message should be about the dangers of drugs.

“The Government has taken its eyes off the drug issue. This is also shown through the huge numbers of needles being handed out – it’s open slather needle distribution.”

The Department of Human Services figures show that VIVAIDS received $193,000 from the State Government and almost $390,000 in funding from the Federal Government last year.

The magazine includes:

    • A CHART on how long it takes to get a clean urine test after using drugs.
    • TIPS on how to inject pills and break up rock heroin fix injecting.
    • ADVICE on finding a good vein for injection.
    • A YOUNG drug user describing chroming.

The contents page begins with the quote: “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity, but they’ve always worked for me”.

The VIVAIDS website has extensive advice on using drugs and guides to each drug, including advice on “how to have a good time” on some drugs. A section on the law includes advice on avoiding police questions. The magazine is distributed in needle exchanges and is written for drug users.

Yesterday Health Minister Tony Abbott said the Federal Government would not knowingly support any organisation that promoted drug use.
“There’s no such thing as a safe way to use illegal drugs,’ Mr Abbott said.

A State Government spokeswoman said that although it funded VIVAIDS. none of the money went towards the magazine. VIVAIDS could not be contacted yesterday for comment. Health workers said that up to 400 needles were being given to drug users a day.

A nurse at a regional hospital said one user demanded he be given 400 needles – “and we must give it to him.”Another man takes 100 needles at a time”. “The person that collects them takes them to a dealer and they’re used as heroin start-up kits.”

But the Department of Human Services’ director of drug policy and services. Paul McDonald said health officials should hand out as many needles as they could. Mr McDonald said there was no requirement For users to hand in needles despite the drug programs being called needle exchanges.
“You can never hand out too many, from a public health perspective,” he said. “The more you are able to make clean syringes available, the more you are going to prevent HIV and Hep C.” Mr McDonald said it was the department’s policy to supply users with the number of needles they requested.

Youth worker Les Twentyman said rising supplies of heroin in Victoria had led dealers to entice former drug users back. “They hang around the jails when they get released. They visit the user at home, Mr Twentyman said.

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