Editorial: Drug users can turn their lives around

ANYONE who fills a syringe with drugs, sticks it in their arm and presses down on the plunger is playing a high stakes game of Russian roulette with their life.

Illicit drugs, such as heroin, do not come with a list of ingredients. The user simply has no way of knowing precisely what will be entering their bloodstream.

Instead, they have to take on trust any anecdotal information about the product’s potency and hope to hell it has not been laced with anything.

It is difficult for anyone who has not been gripped by a drug addiction to comprehend why somebody would take such a monumental risk. But conventional logic and reasoning can rarely be applied to the workings of a drug-addicted mind.

Tragically, in the past fortnight, three local drug users have died right here in Bendigo from suspected heroin overdoses.

The spate of deaths prompted Bendigo police to take the unusual step of calling a press conference to draw attention to the issue.

So concerned was the Bendigo Community Health Services about the danger the “bad batch” presented users that they have begun affixing warnings to their syringe packs.

Not everyone in the community shares the same concerns, however.

Once the story broke yesterday the Bendigo Advertiser’s Facebook page was bombarded with comments from people devoid of empathy.

“Good, let the junkies take themselves out”, one person posted, while another wrote “Let the people who overdose die”.

There is no doubt drug abuse is at the heart of many of society’s ills and a contributing factor in a lot of the incidents of assaults, property crime, domestic violence and more that occur in Bendigo each day.

But drugs – and not just the illicit ones – are also an unfortunate and uncomfortable fact of life.

The factors that lead a person into addiction are often every bit as complex as the neurological reactions that occur when the drug enters their body.

It might be impossible to eradicate drugs from our community, but it is not impossible to help those who for whatever reason fall under their spell.

The real tragedy here is that these three people and many more each year will never again have the chance to get clean and turn their lives around.

- Ross Tyson, deputy editor