Letter: Simplistic moralising not the answer (22/09/15)

We submitted the following letter to the editor of The Age in response to a terrible piece on methamphetamine use and policy. The letter wasn't published, but this article was, which provides an even better response.


Simplistic moralising not the answer
It was disappointing to see The Age publishing Karalee Katsambanis’ dangerous simplification of the issues that contribute to methamphetamine use in Australia and the possible policy responses (‘Ice addicts: why is it never their fault?’). Moralistic attitudes towards people who are dependent on alcohol or other drugs (based on the assumption that it is evidence of gross moral failings) are not new but they do a tremendous disservice to the individuals and families affected. They reinforce stigma and make it harder for people to seek help.
For Katsambanis to claim that ‘just say no’ is, ‘really the only way to go’, ignores the great body of evidence for effective responses to alcohol and other drug related harm. It didn’t work in the 80’s. It won’t work now.
Katsambis is wrong on the causes of methamphetamine dependence. She is wrong on how to prevent it. For The Age to publish such an uniformed piece, when there is abundant informed opinion on this issue is an opportunity wasted.

Laurence Alvis
CEO, UnitingCare ReGen