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Getting to grips

A woeful state, but we can change it.

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by , 02-02-2012 at 02:29 AM (195 Views)
Sydney has the highest rate of gambling in the world, sharing this dubious distinction with Las Vegas.

This bleak claim covers up a lot of suffering and self damage. Therefore I regret that the efforts to help problem gamblers help themselves are collapsing.

The odds were always stacked against introducing effective deterrents for gambling addicts, while legislative programs long deferred are not meant to be implemented.

Catholic teaching has no objections to reasonable gambling, but when gamblers bet excessively and chase their losses great hurt is regularly caused to themselves, their spouses and children. Many are tempted to steal.

One major impediment to action is the enormous gambling revenues which go to governments.

The greater long-term costs to society are hidden from view.

Next to no-one wants a nanny state attempting to curb human weaknesses, but a few nudges in the right direction can help.

The ban on smoking while people use the pokies is probably the most effective measure introduced so far, while removing ATMs from near the machines and introducing natural light, which helps bring people to their senses, are also helpful.

I grew up after World War II when our cricketers, tennis players, swimmers and athletes, especially the women, reigned supreme. Internal peace, good food and plenty of sport during the war gave us big advantages.

The rest of the world has caught up, many countries now enjoying similar prosperity, although Tomic and our cricketers are on the way to the top.

Unfortunately we have surged to the front of the field in another area sharing, with New Zealand, the regional leadership in the world in the use of cannabis, amphetamines and cocaine.

Between 9.3 to 14.8 per cent of 15-64 year olds in our Pacific region have tried cannabis, slightly above North American levels and much above those across Europe.

Englandís similar usage is balanced off by much lower use elsewhere.

Our amphetamine use is twice as high as in North America and more than four times above Europeís.

While Australia has a lower rate of injecting drug users among HIV patients, the deaths from illicit drug usage are above those caused by alcohol but well below deaths caused by tobacco.

General health costs from illicit drugs, including the treatment of cannabis-induced schizophrenia, are at least as high as alcohol-related health costs.

Changes in public attitudes are needed to bring us down from the top of these charts.
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