The drug ice has been making a lot of headlines lately, but community advocate Tony Brown says alcohol is a far worse problem.
“Ice represents only a very small percentage of total drug use (around 3 per cent), compared with 80 per cent for alcohol,” Mr Brown said.
“Alcohol causes 10 times the problems, but the federal and NSW governments are reluctant to seriously address them because of the undue influence and political donations from the alcohol industry.”
Mr Brown said the government should be taking an evidence-based approach to funding, rather than turning ice into a political football.
“That’s not saying ice is not a problem,” he said.
The Newcastle Herald reported last week that new figures show the ice problem is worsening, with offences for the notorious stimulant hitting an all-time high in the Hunter Region.
That same day, the federal government announced that a “local drug action team” would be established in Newcastle to “reduce the impact of drugs, with a particular focus on the drug ice”.
The action team was to be one of 220 funded across the country, with a $19.2 million federal grant to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation.
But Mr Brown said a local drug action team had recently been approved in Newcastle, but was yet to be offered any government funding.
He said this team, which he would chair, would focus on “fetal alcohol spectrum disorders”, rather than ice.
The Alcohol and Drug Foundation said it was unlikely there would be a second local drug action team based in Newcastle, focused on ice.