Finely chop powder, alternate nostrils says taxpayer-funded user guide to drugs

By Caroline Marcus
From:The Sunday Telegraph
January 22, 2011 11:30pm

  • How to use drug guide sparks outrageCocaine use
  • Booklet details ways to snort, inject drugs
  • Aims to promote drug “harm minimisation”

TAXPAYERS are funding a guide to snorting cocaine and other party drugs under the guise of AIDS prevention.

A four-page booklet, titled Routes of Administration, details ways to protect the nose when snorting powdered drugs using common house and office utensils.

It is published by the former AIDS Council of NSW, now known as ACON, which was set up to promote health and reduce HIV transmission in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

The document includes tips such as: finely chop powdered drugs before inhaling, alternate nostrils and rinse nostrils after snorting.

After warning readers not to mix up their utensils with those of other people, the guide advises: “Using post-it notes with your name on is an easy way to keep track of your own equipment.”

The booklet, which is available at ACON’s offices and via the internet, also has guides to injecting, swallowing and other methods of ingesting drugs.

The only justification for the snorting guide is that Hepatitis C can be passed on from sharing equipment.

ACON receives 75 per cent of its $12 million budget from the State Government through NSW Health, but has been criticised by gay activists for its funding priorities.

Gay activist Gary Burns, most widely known as the man who sued radio broadcaster John Laws for vilification against homosexuals, said the guide was dangerous.

“It is way beyond harm minimisation. It is giving you a step-by-step guide to killing yourself,” Mr Burns said.

“It is important to have harm-minimisation policies to a degree but at the same time, you shouldn’t be spelling out [how to take drugs].”

Mr Burns, along with activists Shayne Chester and Peter Hackney, have called for NSW Health to dissolve the group.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore has written to Health Minister Carmel Tebbutt conveying the concerns of Mr Burns and seeking an explanation for the booklet.

ACON chief executive Nicholas Parkhill said the guide reproduced information from another booklet originally published by the organisation in December 2005.

He said it had undergone “rigorous” checks by drug and alcohol experts.

“Funding is provided to ACON in recognition that people in ACON’s communities have higher rates of drug use than the mainstream Australian population and that they are at elevated risks of harms as a consequence,” Mr Parkhill said.

“This is not a ‘how to use drugs guide’ but a ‘how to reduce the harms associated with drug use guide’.”

ACON removed the resource from its website last week, only to re-upload it hours later with a message that read: “This information is not intended to encourage the use of illicit substances but to assist people and communities reduce the harms associated with injecting drug use.”

A NSW Health spokesman said the harm reduction strategies in no way condoned drug use.

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