Majority Victorians support injecting rooms: a mandate to continue and expand harm reduction responses to drug use

Released on 29th February 2024

An AIHW household survey shows that the majority of Victorians are in favour of drug harm reduction initiatives including supervised injecting rooms, access to pharmacotherapy (opioid replacement therapy) and needle syringe programs. 

Community health service, cohealth, which provides a range of drug support services, says that the survey should provide greater confidence to governments and policy makers at all levels that harm reduction initiatives have public support.  

The AIHW’s National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2022-23 (NDSHS), conducted every three years, surveys Australians aged 14+ about their alcohol and other drug use, and attitudes and perceptions of same. 

The NDSHS survey results reveal that in 2022/23: 

  •  56% of Victorians support supervised injecting rooms 
  •  69% of Victorians support Methadone and Buprenorphine medicines as treatment for heroin dependence 
  • 65% of Victorians support the distribution of clean needle syringes to people who inject drug drugs 
  • 60% of Victorians support access to overdose-reversal drug, Naloxone

“The survey shows there is strong support for governments to prioritise public health initiatives over punitive measures in response drug use in the community,” said cohealth Deputy Chief Executive, Chris Turner.  

“Victorians understand that compassion and evidence-based approaches to drug use save lives and connect people to support, resulting in better health outcomes for individuals and the community,” said Mr Turner.  

 “Drug policy reform is complex and Victoria has shown great leadership in introducing progressive harm reduction initiatives, which are supported by the public.   

“This survey tells us that State Government has a mandate to continue and expand on those initiatives, including introducing a CBD overdose prevention service and expanded pharmacotherapy.” 

Table: AIHW National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2022-23 (NDSHS) 

Tab 9b.55: Support (Victoria) for measures relating to injecting drug use, people aged 14 and over, 2013 to 2022–2023 (per cent) 
   Victoria 
Measure  2013  2016  2019  2022–2023 
Needle and syringe programs  68.1  67.4  62.4  64.7 
Regulated injecting rooms  56.8  58.0  53.1  55.6 
Methadone/Buprenorphine maintenance programs  68.8  69.7  65.7  69.3# 
Treatment with drugs other than methadone  66.7  67.8  65.2  66.8 
Trial of prescribed heroin  36.8  36.2  32.5  35.5 
Rapid detoxification therapy  69.3  69.7  67.9  66.7 
Voluntary use of Naltrexone, a drug that blocks the effects of heroin and other
opiates/opioids 
67.3  66.4  63.7  65.4 
The availability of take-home Naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of a
Heroin/Methadone/Morphine overdose 
n.a.  56.0  54.6  60.2#  

— Ends — 

More on cohealth: 

cohealth is one of Australia’s largest not-for-profit community health organisation that strives to improve health and wellbeing for all.  cohealth provides universal access to services as well as targeted programs and assertive models to address the health disparities experienced by disadvantaged groups. cohealth offers a broad range of high quality, integrated health and support services, including medical, oral, pharmacy, mental health and drug and alcohol services.  

more information:  Lanie Harris 0418 552 377  lanie.harris@cohealth.org.au 

 

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