Action Planning for Sustainable Change



Health in Action: Planning for Sustainable Change 2200 words
Assessment Task:
• Discuss on the issue of Alcohol and drug Abuse in Melbourne , issue to research from the list of ‘20 things that threaten Melbourne’s liveability’ things-that-threaten- melbournes-liveability-20150604-ghh4cj.html.
• Demonstrate the nexus between Health, Planning and Sustainability in urban environment context, by providing an analysis or appraisal of how the issue impacts the health of people and environments and developing some evidence-based solutions to make urban environments more healthy and sustainable
• Discuss issues and concepts relevant to health, planning and sustainability.
• Appraise the liveability of urban environments and plan for healthy and sustainable settings in a globalized world.
Task to complete:
• develop a Multimedia Resource (e.g. a website, blog) that is presented in a professional format such that it could be used to inform the City of Melbourne’s Resilient Melbourne Strategy as an information source for the health, planning and sustainability sectors.
Drawing on at least 8 sources of credible evidence
1. Define the alcohol and drug abuse issue and its relevance to the health, planning and sustainability sectors. To address this requirement, your should consider this from a local (i.e. Melbourne/Australian)
perspective as well as a global perspective.
2. Analyze ways (minimum of three) that individuals and the environment are affected by the selected issue. To address this requirement, your
group should include data on the significance of the selected issue for the health of Melbournians and the liveability of Melbourne.
3. Develop evidence-based solutions (minimum of three) to manage the effects of the issue and make urban environments more healthy and sustainable. To address this requirement, please consider what can be done to manage the issue and make Melbourne more liveable by drawing on actions/initiatives that have been suggested/implemented in Australia and/or overseas and providing novel solutions.




Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Melbourne

Drug and alcohol abuse

Drug abuse, as well as over-consumption of alcohol, causes many problems in many facets of life. The problem not only affects the person using the substances directly but also the friends and family members. The problem is made more complicated when the person using the drug denies their problem and personality changes (Western Australia, 2009 p 2). Drug abuse and alcohol consumption are costly and as they are more prioritized as compared to other expenses. Drug users have a problem working as their productivity reduces drastically. Individuals using the drugs have varying characteristics that differ among various individuals. These characteristics involve such as poor or improved appetite, impaired concentration, withdrawal from social activities and school or work absenteeism. Different types of drug addictions exist (Western Australia, 2009 p 2). The first type of drug addiction is the physical and the second one is the psychological addiction. Understanding of alcohol and drug abuse plays a significant role in health, planning, and sustainability sector in Australia.

In Australia, excessive alcohol is the primary cause of drug-related deaths. More than 40 percent of the general population considers excessive consumption of alcohols as a serious problem. Most of the Australians engage in alcohol consumption that exceeds the required levels. According to the Australian Drug Foundation (2015, p. 2), more than 85 percent of the Australians aged 14 years and above have consumed alcohol for one or more times in their lifetime. From this population, 37.3 percent consume alcohol on a weekly basis. Women also consume alcohol. 25 percent of women drink alcohol during pregnancy. This use occurs despite the presence of Australian Alcohol Guidelines. Consequently, 10 percent of the workers experience negative effects of alcohol drinking co-workers. Although the Australian government collects approximately $7 billion from alcohol-related tax, the cost incurred by the society is more than $15.3 billion.

Apart from alcohol consumption, other drugs continue to be a big problem in Melbourne city. Analgesics are among the drugs frequently abused by Australians. According to Australian Drug Foundation, approximately 7.7 percent of Australians have used Analgesics for non-medical purposes either once or several times in their lifetime. The young Australians use analgesics for the first time at around 15 years of age due to headaches and/or flu symptoms. In Victoria, Ambulance attendances on Opioid analgesic cases increased significantly in 2012/2013. Consequently, 4.5 percent of Australians use Benzodiazepines as a sleeping pill. In Victoria, the drug led to 56 deaths in 2010. The number represents 17 percent of all the deaths caused by drug abuse. On average eight ambulances were used to attend to benzodiazepine cases in Melbourne. Most of these patients were approximately 40 years. In one of the statics conducted by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, there were 563 deaths related to use of Opioids in 2009. The males comprised approximately 76 percent of all deaths related to Opioids (Australian Drug Foundation 2015, p. 5).

In Australia, individuals beyond 50 years had the largest increase rate in the use of illegal drugs. According to statistics, 6.4% of Australian above 60 years used illegal drugs in 2013 in comparison to 5.2% in 2010. A high number of Aboriginal and Torres Islander peoples drank alcohol and smoked tobacco. They used meth and cannabis more than the non-indigenous Australians did. Individuals in high social status in Australia are likely to drink alcohol excessively as compared to those in lower economic status. Unemployed Australians use illegal drugs more than the employed population. Besides, those individual located in remote areas have higher chances of smoking and drinking alcohol excessively.

The above statistics depicts how the problem of alcohol and drug abuse is prevalent among the Australians, and it is among the threats facing the Melbourne people. Without solving this problem, the health, planning, and sustainability of Melbourne people is at risk. For the metropolitan city of Melbourne to plan and sustains itself, appropriate data is important for decision-making. Alcohol and drug abuse are challenges threatening the continuity and the life of Melbourne city.

Effect on individuals and Environments

The alcohols and substance abuse has a significant effect on the individual’s life in Melbourne. At the same time, it has a huge impact on the social, economic, technological, legal, ecological, and political environment.

Health problems

The consumption and abuse of alcohol and other drugs result in health problems. The extensive abuse may also result in death. The people who consume drugs are often addicted despite being harm from their use. This research uses data from Melbourne to evaluate Australia at a wider scope. The number of people attended by ambulance in Melbourne drug due to drug use can measure the impact of the drug abuse. Regarding alcohol use, the ambulance had attended 30 cases per day in the year the year 2012/2013.The ambulance also attended the eight patients with complications related to Benzodiazepines in Melbourne each day the same year. With considerations that at least ten to twenty patients a day have complications related to drugs in Melbourne, many people are at risk. Treatment for drug abuse related health problems adds to the health budget of the Metropolitan. Other data that affected the people of Melbourne could be found at the national level. Cases of mental problems increased from 17.2% to 19.4% from 2007- 2010 (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, cited as AIHW henceforth, 2011, p.33). AIHW (2011, p.110) revealed that 18.7% of the individuals who smoked cannabis in 2010 were diagnosed with mental problems. Drug abuse was shown to increase health risks among the people in Melbourne.


The abuse of drugs such as methamphetamine, cocaine, and overdose of the non-fatal ketamine and GHB caused death to the Melbournians. In Australia, the deaths that resulted from the use of the Methamphetamine among the people age 15 to 54 years were eighty-six. Sindicich and Burns, (2014, p.110) established that cocaine caused 21% of all the deaths that had been related to the use of Cocaine.

Alcohol has also been associated with the huge number of deaths amongst the people living in Australia. The accidents caused by the alcohol are the half of the deaths caused by the consumption of alcohol. 15 Australians are killed while 430 are hospitalized each day as a result of consuming excessive alcohol. Horyniak (2010, p.6) carried out a  research that revealed that the leading cause of death among those who use heroin in Australia is an overdose. The users of heroin commonly risk their life despite being aware of the effects of its use. For ten years since 2001, overdose use of heroin has progressively decreased in the Australia. Nevertheless, in Victoria the death rate from the heroin increased from 50, 78, to 117 in the years 2001 to 2003 consecutively (Horyniak, 2010, p.1). Moreover, the use of Benzodiazepines caused deaths of more than 50 Victorians.

Cost to the society

Alcohol and drug abuse result in social costs on the people of the Melbourne and Australia at large. The deaths and health difficulties associated with drugs has cost impacts to both the Melbourne metropolitan government and the people under treatment. This research reviews drug related costs to depict the financial burden on Melbournians due to drug abuse. The total costs associated with the use of drugs such as cocaine, cannabis and opiates is $12, 357, 000, 000 in Australia. The costs had been broken into crime costs ($ 7, 453, 000, 000), health effect cost ($ 4, 247, 000, 000), road accidents costs ($ 658, 000, 000), and non-dependence use of drugs $1, 110, 000, 000 (Moore, 2007, p.24). In addition, there are indirect costs associated with alcohol and drug abuse. Such can be seen in such as low productivity in the society because of deaths, sicknesses, and absenteeism (Manning, Smith, Mazerolle, 2013). All these aspectes impact on the societal growth and development.

Moore (2007, p.25) made the step to investigate the costs incurred by the society as a result of a single individual being involved in the abuse of cocaine, cannabis, amphetamines, and opiates. The social cost of the dependent users of cocaine, amphetamines, and opiates are $ 18 000, 11 000, and $ 100 000 per an individual. The burden of these costs is transferred to the society with opiates having the highest societal costs.

Evidence-based solutions


The interventions are necessary to make certain that the people have ceased the abuse of drugs and alcohol. The National Alcohol Strategy 2006-2009 used interventions to address the misuse of alcohol in Australia. In the strategy, there is need to combine the tertiary, secondary and primary strategies in the addressing the menace of alcohol abuse in Australia. To make the Melbourne, and Australia in general, drug-free regions, a similar approach would prove indispensable.

Primary strategy

The primary strategies aim at preventing those who have never involved in the drug abuse from becoming victims of the behavior. The primary strategies aim at ensuring that non-users of drugs are not influenced to use them. First, the nonusers are educated on how to avoid those drugs. For instance, expectant mothers are educated on the effects of drug abuse to the unborn baby and their health. Second, ensure that the children transit efficiently from one level of education to another. When the system of educations and family are functioning well the children grow with the awareness that facilitate them make positive decisions relating to their life (Manning et al. 2013, p.10).

The third step involves giving children opportunities to be involved in other activities rather than be involved in the drug abuse. Such activities include recreation, sporting, and cultural activities. When the people are involved in such activities, they are continuously busy, and they have no time to think of ill activities like the drug abuse. Australia encouraged the use such activities to enhance relationships in school, home, and the whole community. Lastly, Australia has enacted laws to control, successfully, alcohol abuse. The laws define eligible alcohol consumers and retail sections. Clear laws control the access and use of the legal and illegal drugs.

Secondary strategy

The national strategy on alcohol used secondary interventions to enhance the people avoid excessive drinking. The strategy applies to the control of alcohol abuse and the misuse of medicinal drugs (Manning, et al., 2013, p.10). People are educated on the impacts of excessive alcohol drinking and abuse of medicinal drugs. The interventions are done among those who take alcohol and smoke cigarettes.

Tertiary interventions

The tertiary interventions aim to help those who are already in the drug abuse to cease from the behavior. The interventions are made in the community or on the various health centers. The main strategies used in the tertiary interventions include the brief interventions, withdrawal management, and aftercare services. The interventions were done for the Aboriginal people to help them cease the consumption of alcohol. The government rehabilitated Aboriginal people with alcohol-related problems to help them manage and cease the consumption of the alcohol (Manning, et al., 2013, p.11). Similar, programs are necessary to ensure that the drugs addicts in Melbourne cease the drug abuse.

Prevention and education campaign

With the increasing drugs threats in the Melbourne and Australia at large, there is a need to campaign against drug abuse and educate the public on  its effects. The campaigns will be necessary to control the use of the drug abuse in Melbourne and other regions in Australia (Horyank, 2010, p.09). After a rise had been noted in drug use and deaths resulting from the use of heroine in Victoria State, a big campaign against its use was launched. The Department of Human Services (DHS) drafted five campaign messages to the abusers of the heroin intended to create awareness on the risks of consuming heroin (Horyank, 2010, p.10). The campaign was effective with heroin users advocating that they are aware of the risks involved. The next step was to convince them to cease drug abuse. It is necessary for the follow-up measures to ensure that drug abusers are conversant with the associated consequences and aim to cease the behavior (Wakefield, Loken, & Hornik, 2010, p.1264). Therefore, Melbourne officials should be aware that there is need to integrate the campaigns with the secondary and tertiary strategies discussed above.

Treatment Services

Treatments services have been mentioned earlier as a tertiary intervention strategy to help people cease the drug abuse. The treatment services have been recognized by the Australia government as a tool to help the people who currently abuse drugs. In the year, 2007, Victoria had implemented a similar strategy for treatment of people who abused alcohol and other drugs. In the year, 95 percent of 47 538 people who visited the treatment centers were concerned about their drug abuse (AIHW, 2009, p.08). The remaining 5% wanted the treatment for their loved ones. The treatment services are currently available; it will be easy to expand them in Melbourne. The treatments services expansion makes certain that the intended population is reached. The 2007 treatment services revealed that the referral from other drug users served to be important in accessing the addicts (AIHW, 2009, p.08).





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Horyniak, D., Higgs, P., Lewis, J., Winter, R., Dietze, P., & Aitken, C. 2010. An evaluation of a heroin overdose prevention and education campaign. Drug and alcohol review, 29(1), 5-11.

Manning, N. Smith, Christine, C. Mazerolle, P. 2013. The societal costs of alcohol misuse in Australia. Australian Institute of Criminology. Retrieved from,

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