Thinking about Burdens and Harms. Third Annual ACT Alcohol and Other Drugs Sector Conference All Things Being Equal: Exploring the Burdens of Harm Canberra, 24 June 2010. David McDonald Visiting Fellow, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health,
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Third Annual ACT Alcohol and Other Drugs Sector Conference
All Things Being Equal: Exploring the Burdens of Harm
Canberra, 24 June 2010
Visiting Fellow, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health,
The Australian National University
Consultant in Social Research & Evaluation
Currently illegal drugs
Currently legal drugs
Low availability High availability
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Source: Babor et al. 2009, p. 19.
Article 4. If the World Health Organization finds:
a) That the substance has the capacity to produce
i) 1) A state of dependence, and
2) Central nervous system stimulation or depression, resulting in hallucinations or disturbances in motor function or thinking or behaviour or perception or mood, or
ii) Similar abuse and similar ill effects as a substance in Schedule I, II, III or IV, and
b) That there is sufficient evidence that the substance is being or is likely to be abused so as to constitute a public health and social problem warranting the placing of the substance under international control, the World Health Organization shall communicate to the Commission an assessment of the substance, including the extent or likelihood of abuse, the degree of seriousness of the public health and social problem and the degree of usefulness of the substance in medical therapy, together with recommendations on control measures, if any, that would be appropriate in the light of its assessment.
Source: Nutt et al. 2007, pp. 1047-53.
It is not just the chemical characteristics of the drugs that determine harm, but also how drugs are used, drug interactions, society’s responses to drugs and people who use drugs, etc.
Nonetheless, harm potential should be prominent in informing policy decision-making.
Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) 2003
(Source: Begg et al. 2007 & presenter’s calculations)
Source: adapted from MacCoun & Reuter 2001.
‘Harm’ is a complex concept
‘Where we sit determines what we see’
Thinking about the ACT’s drug-related burden of harm
The facts and figures on health & social harms
The community’s values and expectations
The sources of drug-related harms
Who in our community bears the drug-related harms
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