February 2023

A plea for broadening our thinking
All Research and Trends

In the past 50 years, while many indicators of physical health have improved there has been an increase in psychosocial problems, including youth depression, suicide, drug use and drug-related problems.

These trends are occurring in the context of a substantial public investment in programmes to prevent and ameliorate drug problems in Australia and other countries since the 1980s. However, much of this investment has focused on individuals and on drug use as an isolated phenomenon. This has included prevention programmes such as school-based drug education to discourage individuals from engaging in problematic drug use; law enforcement and criminal justice approaches to deter or punish individuals’ drug use; and drug-treatment programmes to encourage individuals who do have a drug-use problem to abstain or to manage their use better.

Research that is longitudinal, multivariate, multi-method and multidisciplinary is needed to understand better the complex web of factors that contribute to drug abuse. Problematic drug use and other social problems are not likely to be reduced if we restrict our efforts to drug education, drug treatment and drug law enforcement.

Photo credit: NOFFS