Heroin and other addictions

Heroin and other addictions damage everyone.

Two heroin smugglers caught in Bali in 2005 were executed this week. Ten years ago, they masterminded this crime and led of a pack of drug carriers. The seven drug mules are still in Indonesian jails.

Opium poppies  for heroin manufacture

Opium poppies for heroin manufacture

Dramatic news reports surrounded the deaths of the smugglers. Pages of newsprint were devoted to them. Stories about them and their families led television news reports. Social media was inundated with comment. Not all reports were in good taste.

Sympathies ran high for these men. They were said to have been rehabilitated. Candlelit vigils were held in Australian capital cities. People gathered to express their displeasure and sadness about the death penalty. The government made repeated representations to Indonesia for mercy.

The executed men were subjected to barbaric state-sanctioned murder. Their families and friends suffer grievously and deserve our ongoing sympathy.

The bodies were repatriated to Australia. Such was the hype that one would hardly have been surprised to read an announcement of a State funeral.

However, nearly four people in Australia die every day from drug overdoses (not necessarily heroin). None of them has the chance to rehabilitate. Their families suffer grievously.. They must bury their sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, grandchildren and friends. Such senseless waste of life.

Others have lives in tatters because of their addictions. Their families are affected.

By all means let us campaign about the death penalty in other countries.

Let us also campaign strongly against heroin and other drugs

Here’s my list for things to campaign for

  • Protection of our sons and daughters from dangerous suppliers of illegal and legal drugs.
  • Appropriate care, treatment and rehabilitation for those in our community with heroin and other addictions.
  • Adequate education, care and treatment for people with mental illnesses.
  • Appropriate protection of children of drug-addicted parents.
  • Rehabilitation opportunities for those convicted of drug crimes.
  • Reduction of drug-related crimes such as home-invasions.

And let’s have some prayers and candlelit vigils for these people.

Candlelit vigils for victims

Candlelit vigils for victims

  • People with addictions.
  • Families of those who have overdosed.
  • Victims of intimate violence where drugs are a factor.
  • Victims of violence at the hands of drug-affected strangers.
  • Children who will never know a normal home-life.
  • Grandparents whose grandchildren they never see, or see infrequently.
  • Victims of drug-fuelled home invasions.

Thank you for visiting my blog. I’d appreciate your comments. 

8 thoughts on “Heroin and other addictions

  1. Frankly I don’t think punishment and prohibition will cure the problem of ‘heroin and other drugs’. That’s a whole debate which is fraught and divisive, and I don’t wish to enter into it. This is above such policies; it’s about atonement and forgiveness and mercy, and those young men, by their transformation of their lives in extreme circumstances, redeemed themselves. yet still were punished.

    Let us look to ourselves. We need to address the root causes of violence, abuse, addiction and crime. Do we have the right to criticise the brutal practice of execution in another country when we are subjecting thousands of people who have sought asylum here to imprisonment and indefinite destruction of their lives, their families, and their hopes for a safe place to live? We deny human rights to thousands and cry murder when two of our citizens are denied the same rights — to justice, mercy and compassion — by another country.

    And we are close and uncritical allies of the United States, where the death penalty is still practised in several states.

    • I absolutely agree with everything you say, Christina. I hope my post didn’t sound as if I thought punishment and prohibition would cure anything! Instead, what about treating addiction as a health issue, and legalising drugs so that people do not have to be involved in the corrupt black market practices of profiteers and forced to commit crimes or submit to prostitution to fund their addictions? I don’t know if that’s the answer. At least let’s begin a discussion about it.

      In another post I wrote about my deep shame about the way the Australian government treats asylum seekers and my frustration that voices like yours and mine do not seem to be heard.

      Thank you for commenting and sharing your thoughts about these matters.

      • Thanks for this, Maureen. I’m glad we’re in tune. I think it’s too easy to blame the traffickers. They are profiting from a complex mix of prohibition and addiction, and of course it’s wrong and immoral. But there wouldn’t be traffickers if, as you say, addiction to drugs is treated as a health issue, just as addiction to alcohol, cigarettes, prescription drugs and gambling are, and if drugs were legalised, just as cigarettes, alcohol and gambling are. It isn’t rational. I”ve visited the dark side both in my mental health practice and my family traumas, and I think it’s time we stopped anathemising drugs and drug takers and talked about healing families, reducing homelessness, teaching young people about safe behaviour, and a host of other ways of responding to the dark side of our ‘safe, comfortable, affluent’ society.

        • I love your positive suggestions, Christina. Healing families is at the centre of the drug issue.

  2. Maureen thank you raising such a difficult topic. I had my values challenged when I saw a program about Bhuddist monks who lived in a monastery next to a notorious Thai prison. They were very kind to the inmates, but when asked why they agreed that drug traffickers were worse than murderers they explained that drug addiction caused more widespread devastation among the families and the community. Their attitude was based on the Asian belief that community is a primary value as compared to the Western idealization of the individual. The story of the two drug dealers being executed in Bali has engaged both Indonesian and Australian people and hopefully, if nothing else, it wil encourage people to be more thoughtful about the death penalty. Personally, despite strong feelings sometimes, i believe we make a better society by not having it and I am proud that Australia has a bipartisan agreement on this issue.

    • Thanks for your comment, Stephanie. I too am glad we have bipartisan agreement in Australia on the issue of the death penalty. It is barbarous and inhumane under any circumstances. I agree with the Bhuddist monks, that drug traffickers are worse than murderers because of the deaths, disability and pain they cause. People initially choose to use drugs, of course. But once addicted they find it increasingly difficult to make sound decisions about their lives.

  3. Thanks MH and those who have already commented on your blog. It has been and continues to be a difficult problem, with little really in the way of solution. Comment of course!! The families and those who become addicted are the final sufferers with little to show from those who peddle the drugs and those who are vocal critics of Government in its efforts to quell the flood of drugs into the country. We now have an issue of “Ice” apparently easily produced ‘at home’. Where and when will it all end??
    Rosemary Keenan

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