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Byron Shire
November 30, 2022

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: War on Trauma

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It’s worth considering moving from drug to hug dependence!

The war on drugs has failed. The past few decades have shown that when it comes to drug-related harm, you can’t police your way out. Making drugs illegal does not impact addiction or access. Our crystal meth use is one of the highest in developed nations. There are country towns all over Australia with an ‘ice’ problem. Police target cannabis users with unfair drug driving laws that can see someone who smoked a joint a week ago lose their licence. In one year alone in Australia there were over 71k cannabis arrests. In fact, almost 15 per cent of the prison population is in there for drug-related offences. The justice system continues to cause more harm to the community than the drug use. 

Meanwhile, legal drugs continue to cause more harm than the illegal ones. Every week more than 100 Australians die from alcohol-related harm and more than 3000 are hospitalised as a result of excessive alcohol consumption.

That’s 5,500 deaths and 157, 000 hospital admissions every year. Alcohol-related harm costs us more than $14 billion per annum. So the argument around prohibition being there for community safety is a furphy. How can we tolerate the excessive harms of alcohol and then criminalise other drug use? It’s clear that all excessive drug use can cause harm. But sending people to jail does not deter drug use. 

Vulnerable communities are over-represented in prisons. You can’t use the law as a big stick to traumatise already traumatised people out of their drug use. It clearly doesn’t work. A War on Drugs was never going to work. What we need is a War on Trauma.

Imagine if we addressed drug harm with health policy rather than judicial intervention. A War on Trauma would be an intergenerational, historical and restorative approach to addressing social contributors that underwrite drug and alcohol addictions. A War on Trauma would mean, as a nation, we have to address the harm we have caused First Nations communities through dispossession, colonisation and years of systemic racism, imprisonment and deaths in custody. In a War on Trauma, Treaty would be the first step to securing sovereignty and self-determination.

A War on Trauma would mean social changes. Like access to housing; safe and long-term housing would be assured, and vulnerable people with limited resources would not have to compete with other vulnerable people with limited resources. Housing is a social determinant of health and wellbeing, so securing it would be a first step towards addressing addiction and drug harm in the War on Trauma. 

In the War on Trauma we would recognise the impact of family violence on children. Even if they are not the targets of the violence, they are never just bystanders and all protections should extend to them.

In the War on Trauma we would provide ongoing support and intervention to children in schools, in homes, in the community. We’d recognise the only way to stop future harm and trauma is to address and remediate the impacts of harm and trauma now. Break the cycle. Take it seriously.

In the War on Trauma we care for hurt people. We understand the importance of safety, of nutrition, of connection to community, of addressing loneliness, of the power of being in nature. 

Being locked in jail for drug-related offences doesn’t change the underlying reasons for why someone has addiction issues. It just amplifies the trauma. And amplified trauma leads to drug harm.

So maybe it’s time to legalise drugs and address the real harm – the trauma caused by an unjust system. As the saying goes, hurt people hurt people. So what if we stopped hurting people? It’s just an idea, and it’s a radical one, I know. But it’s worth considering moving from drug to hug dependence!


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10 COMMENTS

  1. I’m for person responsibility, so sure, let everyone have access to whatever chemicals they want and let Darwin sort it out. The rest is mostly a war on personal responsibility. You’re pretty much lamenting about the problems caused by not having stable nuclear families made by committed married heterosexual couples, and your solution is to take money at gun point from the capable people to pay for mitigating the damage of other people bad life choices. This is what feminism, and leftism in general leads too. It’s an Empire killer.

    All of this has happened before. Greece and Rome for a start, but several times in China too, then there was the fall of the middle kingdom of Egypt. Leftist agendas have consequences you can’t wish away. That’s why we call it degeneracy, it de-generates civilisation and civilised behaviour. If that behaviour worked, all civilisation would start that way, not end that way. We all like the idea of Utopia where we can indulge ourselves, but it leads to suffering, not freedom. We think it sucks too.

  2. You have hit the bull’s eye, Mandy. Trauma follows itself from go to woe. And hurt people do hurt others including those they love
    & care for most. In the past I’ve worked with Lifeline & Phone a Friend; back then it was believed that banning drugs was no answer.
    Legalise the stuff.

  3. OMG! {word deleted by comments editor} Steinberg is obsessed by anything Mandy says, he seems to get a titillating kinky kick out of trolling her… empire? What ’empire’ is he talking about? Which planet does he come from? This seems like mere trolling, with an intolerant mentality, seemingly careless that none of what he says about the history of this issue is right – how did prohibition of that other drug alcohol work in the US? It spawned criminal gangs and widespread corruption, the same with illegal drugs … where there’s a buck to be made, the shysters move in and we have shooting murders in public. Don’t forget it was the British who sold opium to the Chinese to make a greedy buck, and the locals fought back (the opium wars)… and in the Philippines lately we have people, that seemingly hold the same views as Steinberg, choosing to kill all suspected users of illicit drugs. So much for taking money from families at gunpoint, the war on drugs only serves to destroy those very same law-abiding families he talks about. Where does Steinberg read history from? It’s a health issue FFS, criminalising drugs only serves the corrupt corporates, politicians, police et al.

    • Mandy is just perennially wrong. She’s not the only one, I just give her equal treatment.

      As far as Empires, any group of Nation States that bands together is an Empire by definition. Most of them have never called themselves that though, lots of fancy names. Australia is an Empire, as is the USA, Russia, EU. You could even consider the UN as an Empire of sorts, or at least they are trying to parlay that, and many consider the western countries to act as a de facto empire despite being a loose confederacy, allegedly.

      I’m not sure how my statement ‘let everyone have access to whatever chemicals they want’, which would include explosives I add, equates me to Duterte. I’m sure you see climate out your window and are quadruple jabbed, thus your assertion makes the same kind of sense to you. I would point out that it was The British East India Company that was selling opium to China and went to war with them, not the British Empire. BEIC was a private corporation with its own Army and Navy that the Sassoon family (known as “Rothschilds of the East” and not just because they were Jewish) drained China of its gold and silver and the British Government never got a cent of it.

      I’m not sure why you think libertarian ideals are fascist, there are a few different definitions of fascism but your stretching there. I can understand why the right wingers in the other place mistake me for a leftist, that’s a common mistake. Maybe you think that if I make a bad life decision that you should be made to pay for it? Maybe that is freedom to you. Maybe you think when people point out reality to you that that means they wouldn’t change the rules of the Universe if they could? ….. let me know if you need another history lesson, I have a degree in it.

    • Whether you agree or disagree with Christians viewpoint at least he is coherent and polite . Why use [Word deleted by comments editor] ? Is he german? Looks a bit racist to me.

      • Thank you Phil for bringing this to our attention – I have gone through and removed that particular word and replaced it as above – in future, those comments will just not be approved.

        Regards, Eve Jeffery – Comments editor

      • I appreciate your concern phil, your generous words, and thank you for caring. Now I’m morally obligated to defend Joachim’s favourite Anti-White (Possibly Anti-Jewish) racial slur against me. I would never censor anyone for a slur, lie, even stupidity, used against me. If that’s how Joachim chooses to express his/her/its inability to make a reasonable counter argument, so be it.

        N*zi had long been a derogatory nickname for the Bavarian peasant name Ignatius, which referred to a stereotypically unintelligent and clumsy person, ie Mentally and/or Physically disabled. The word “Sozi” was as a derogative deminutive of the word Sozialist or “Socialist” in English. Put them together, and that’s where the N-word comes from, first to denigrate Germans, now used to denigrate any White person that isn’t ethnically/self hating. Even refering to White People is derogatory, as that covers dozens of ethnicities with different cultures and languages, kind of like lumping Islander People with the Aboriginals using ‘Indeginous’, which does get my goat, as they are completely different.

        Point is phil, I could spend all day listing the things that offend and degrade people on the Echo, but at the end of that day, I always have the choice not to visit here. As I said though, I very much appreciate your concern, and Eve’s, and that you both realise why Joachim really really shouldn’t say that to someone like me, but it does allow me, and others, to know the class of individual Joachim, and Luis, are, and that’s valuable too.

        • “…Joachim’s favourite Anti-White ( Possibly Anti-Jewish) racial slur against me'”
          Christian old son, you famous for your makings up. Poor form, again.
          But we used to that by now and the ‘class’ of your good self.

          .

  4. I’ve often wondered about the juxtaposition of a drug that is legal , tends to make one more aggressive, disproportionately affects health and safety of first nations people and does great social harm, with a drug that is illegal, tends to passify, and does much less social harm.
    But then you have big Pharma pushing doctors to give out their brand of addictive drugs, fentanyl anyone? .
    Perhaps we should have a war on politicians who take big political donations that facilitate this war on the drugs that they can’t make money from.

    • Illegal drugs aren’t under patents. The patent for that well known anti-viral drug Ivermectin ran out decades ago. Costs like 2 cent per pill to make. Could you imagine being allowed to grow a Coco tree to treat asthma and allergies. What a world it would be. As long as I don’t have to pay to pick up the pieces for someone when they misuse the more dangerous stuff.

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