Substance Abuse and Dependency | Australian Greens

Substance Abuse and Dependency

The use of all drugs, including legal drugs such as alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceuticals, has the potential to cause harm to the individual and to the community.


The Australian Greens Victoria believe that:

  1. The use of all drugs, including legal drugs such as alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceuticals, has the potential to cause harm to the individual and to the community.

  2. The response to illegal drug use is best addressed within a health and social framework.

  3. A harm minimisation approach is the most appropriate way to reduce the adverse health, social and economic consequences of drug use, for the individual user and the community, in particular to reduce the transmission of blood-borne viruses.

  4. Policy and programs should be adopted that are evidence-based and subject to continuous evaluation and ongoing research.

  5. All Australians with a substance dependence should have access to a range of well-funded evidence-based and regularly evaluated treatment and recovery services.

  6. Information and education programs should be available to enable informed debate about the effects of all drugs, including prescription, non-prescription, legal and illegal drugs.

  7. Imprisoning people solely for using drugs is likely to do more harm than good at the taxpayer’s expense.

  8. Government action is required to reduce the violence, injuries, illness and suffering that results directly and indirectly from alcohol in our community and to limit the promotion of alcohol.

  9. Active and passive consumption of tobacco smoke is dangerous to health and a burden of disease and cost to the community. It is incumbent on Government to facilitate a reduction in consumption and further limit the promotion of tobacco.



  1. A reduction in harmful substance use, including smoking rates that are close to zero and alcohol consumption patterns that are within the limits recommended by public health experts. 

  2. Redirect funds from types of drug law enforcement that have been shown to be futile, to evidence-based demand reduction techniques like drug-substitution therapies such as methadone. These need to be free to attract users away from illicit drugs.

  3. Improved effectiveness of all management, treatment and other regulatory and judicial responses to drug use in the community, to maximise harm reduction, supply reduction and demand reduction.

  4. Improved access to residential and outpatient drug and alcohol treatment programs so that waiting times for services are acceptable.

  5. An increase in public dissemination of scientifically rigorous information on the risks and safe use of licit and illicit drugs.

  6. Increased availability of harm reduction programs including drug-substitution therapy, medically supervised injecting rooms, and widely accessible supply of clean needles, including in prisons.

  7. The removal of legal barriers to both research and the evidence-based management of substance-abuse and other medical conditions, where considered necessary by medical researchers or health services.

  8. Severe penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugsthat impair cognitive or psychomotor skills.
  9. Greater attention to mental health issues for people with drug and alcohol problems with sufficient funding to allow for expanded mental health programs.

  10. To support research trials and the evaluation of policy and treatment programs and to adequately fund drug research centres.

  11. A regulatory scheme which effectively decreases the influence of companies that manufacture and sell alcohol and tobacco.

  12. A ban on financial donations from the tobacco and alcohol industries to political candidates and parties.

    Illicit Drugs

  13. Maintenance of criminal penalties for drug dealers, and introduction of a system of civil sanctions for personal use of illicit drugs, when not associated with other crimes, including measures such as education, counselling and treatment, rather than criminal penalties.

  14. Increased availability of diversion to rehabilitation and treatment and recovery programs as a sentencing alternative for people convicted of crimes committed to support a personal addiction to drugs.

  15. Improved communication between relevant agencies and local communities to address problems associated with harmful drug use.

  16. Increase in flexible specialist services and professional development programs for community and health sector workers, to ensure such services accommodate the diversity of people who have substance dependence or abuse issues.

  17. Establishment of better links between service providers, to enable consistent, effective and ongoing support services.

  18. Provision of adequate support for families of people undergoing drug treatment.

  19. Increase in funding for programs for drug dependent persons released from prison, to assist their wellbeing and re-integration into society.

  20. Convene an expert advisory council to re-examine those recommendations of the Premier’s Drug Advisory Council of 1996 which called for the decriminalisation of personal use and possession of cannabis that minimises harm to individuals and society.


  21. Ban alcohol advertising and sponsorship of sporting organisations, venues, or public events and their broadcasts, and all alcohol advertising directed at young people.

  22. All alcoholic beverages to be taxed based on alcohol content rather than value.

  23. To adequately funding an independent regulator of liquor licensing and alcohol sales.

  24. To improve enforcement of server and licensed venue responsibility legislation, including tougher penalties for licensees who allow staff to continue serving intoxicated patrons.

  25. To replace the existing self-regulatory system for alcohol advertising with external regulation by an independent statutory body.

  26. To review the liquor licensing system and the conditions applying to licensees, to minimise alcohol over-consumption and alcohol related violence.


  27. To ban all advertising of tobacco products and sponsorship of public events by tobacco producers.

  28. Australia to lead the world in reducing the consumption of tobacco products.

  29. Increased assistance to support programs to quit tobacco, and treatment strategies for nicotine addiction.

  30. Victoria to ban smoking at pavement tables and open areas on licensed premises.