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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 3259 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

urine tests and is now able to have take-aways for one day per week. After the next clear test, he will be able to have two take-aways per week.

Today marks six months in the program for my son. He starts to pay. The cost is a total of $15 per week, a trivial amount compared with the amount he was paying each day for heroin. I think he is really pleased that he has gotten to the point where he does have to pay for his methadone.

I know that the temptation to use is always present and that there are always opportunities to buy heroin. So I think my son has done a most remarkable thing - staying off heroin and keeping in the methadone program has taken great strength and he has found that strength. I am proud of him for really sticking at it.

In two more weeks he will have completed his undergraduate studies. Then he has a couple of exams and his degree will be completed. I feel that he will be ready to find work with the confidence that he can manage his methadone doses and the demands of work.

I would like to thank you for your public stance on drug taking. There should be strategies for all kinds of situations and individuals. I am not sure that the management model advocated by the medical profession is the best and certainly it is not the only method. (We do indeed owe a lot to Neil Blewett for his resistance to adopting the medical model alone as a means of dealing with HIV.)

And I have to say I agree with that very much. The letter continues:

There is still little recognition of the demands placed on families and friends of those with drug habits. I well recall a counsellor telling me that I could choose not to support my son, and his habit, during those two dreadful months before 19 April.

(Extension of time granted)

In the context of the past 8 months that still stands out in my memory as one of the great absurd statements. It absolutely denies the whole reality of drug taking and the way that those on drugs such as heroin are driven by the need for a fix. Leaving it to market forces leads to theft, prostitution and jail. Or death. None of which is acceptable to families. When I retire I will look to devote some time and energy to helping the families of those who take drugs.

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