Paul Murray: Too many people take drugs, but why do they do it?

Paul Murray
Paul Murray

We all know too many people take drugs, but why do they do it?

We got a snapshot this week of how many Australians use and abuse drugs.

The survey by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare asked 24,000 people about their habits and it makes for some scary reading.

Twelve percent admit to using drugs in the past year. Cannabis, Cocaine and Ecstasy were the most popular.

More than a quarter (27%) of all drug users confessed they were also being treated for a mental illness; in 2013 it was just over a fifth (21%).

The legal drugs of booze and tobacco are the most prevalent in our society with a quarter of people smoking and eight out of ten drinking.

We also learnt five percent of people misuse prescription drugs.

In fairness, I should own up to what I do; I smoke, don't drink and have never taken drugs.

But the question worth asking is why do so many of us self-medicate with legal and illegal drugs?

What is it about real life that people are trying to escape and how do so many people fail to understand that drug use makes mental illness worse?

So often we turn a blind eye to why people use drugs rather than just focusing on the fact they do.

I am not one for legalising this stuff, but I do think why is just as important as the what and where when it comes to drugs, booze and tobacco.


Find someone better to sing at the grand final

I couldn't care less about the same sex anthem Macklemore plans to sing at the NRL grand final tomorrow. But I do wonder why they booked this guy in the first place?

Again, not because of the song he's going to sing, but the things he's said and done in the past.

He's a 9/11 truther. In 2009 he tweeted "911 … Bush knocked down the towers."

In 2014 he dressed as a jewish stereotype while singing about saving money.

Classy guy.

I might be a bit old school, but can't we save a grand final stage for Aussie acts and not clowns like this?


The problem gambler numbers no one wants to talk about

Sanity prevailed in Tasmania this week; poker machines in pubs and clubs are not going to be banned.

The story went national when the ABC ran a story based on a poll of 1% of voters in the Premier's district that made big claims about how many people wanted them pulled back.

But a parliamentary committee has recommended that while there should be fewer machines, the pub and club ban was a bridge too far.

The truth is many venues would close, sack staff and increase the cost of meals if the machines were gone. While problem gambling exists, the numbers don't back up some of the big claims.

Anglicare says there are 2,000 problem gamblers in Tasmania, but when you think that the state has 515,000 people, that's 0.38% of all people in Tasmania who have a problem.

I want those people to get help. But I also want the vast majority of players to decide where and when they choose to play.

Even when they lose.


Ross Cameron, Janine Perrett, Dan Ginnane and Neil Breen join Paul Murray LIVE this Monday night. 

Topics:  column opinion paul murray live

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