Dr. Stuart Reece: Drug Free Australia’s shameful secret

As a follow up to fundamentalist Drug Free Australia’s attack on Insite and individual research scientists we meet co-author and faith healer, Dr. Albert Stuart Reece

An interesting juxtaposition sits hidden away in this June 2003 edition of Focus magazine – a far right wing and shamelessly bigoted “Christian” publication.

On page 1 we meet Graham Preston who was jailed back in June 2003 for pro-life antics. His sole direction was Proverbs 24, verse 11: “Rescue those being led away to death”. Typical bias, misquoted and out of context bible verses and the eery tribal cohesion social scientists salivate over.

Now read the story on page 2 about a Drug Free Australia member: Naltrexone Doctor Vindicated and remind yourself of the above proverb. 25 patients led to their deaths by a man who placed faith healing above science. We read that, Dr. Reeceʼs “feelings were hurt”. How tragic for him. No news on how the 25 corpses are feeling. We see the same fallacies pushed by the opponents of harm reduction. 590 patients “died with methadone in their system”. Not “died because of methadone overdose or complications”.

These toxicity reports are pulled from coroners data and include hospital patients receiving palliative care, out-patients receiving pain relief, road fatalities, suicides, homicides, poly-drug related deaths and so on. Methadone is one of the safest opioid addiction therapies available. With strict doses dispensed daily under direct supervision of pharmacists, fatalities are unheard of in it’s application as a treatment.

I can’t comment much on the old “recently published article” trick without a reference, other than to note that rapid detox’ has an abysmal record in managing the complex dynamics of addiction. Clients who go through the long steady wean from opioids accompanied with counselling learn to move away from their old habits, rebuild their lives and accept the damage their disease can cause. Patients who follow the naltrexone path need enormous support. Having suddenly lost cravings in no way addresses the lifestyle factors or reasons for use. They frequently return to using. Many OD and die forgetting their tolerance is back to zero.

In attacking a proven addiction treatment – an evidence based therapy – Reece indicates his aim was never about adding to the rehabilitation arsenal. It was about a personal vendetta over old funding disagreements and his religious conviction that certain policies are immoral. A read of Dr. Reece’s articles in – you guessed it – the “glorified blog” Journal of Global Drug Policy and Practice is revealling as to his manipulation of data and outrageous invention of notions like methadone causing premature ageing and cell death. Science is immoral, evolution is immoral, democracy is immoral… Anything not backed by biblical discipline is of course, immoral.

Despite claiming vindication, in reality the QLD Health Practitioners Tribunal adjourned indefinitely over the 25 deaths at his bastard baptising, demon exorcising, sin stopping, faith healing hands. Letʼs consider a more expansive view, given that he has since claimed multiple times – and before a Parliamentary inquiry – to “hold the world safety record” in administering the very treatment he killed 25 Aussies with. Like most junk scientists his arguments arenʼt about his supporting evidence, as much as about misinforming people about aspects of medicine he considers immoral.

Much like homeopathy, Christian fundamentalism as a medical option [christian science] must discredit that which exposes itʼs lies: simple, ordinary evidence. Dr. Reece is the gentleman who coined the term “hedonistic delirium” to describe modern democracies. Or the simply gorgeous: “Sometimes the best way forward, is the way back” in a brave attempt to argue pre-industrial revolution (pre-Darwin) societies were morally superior.

By 1999 Australia knew naltrexone was far from safe despite “miraculous” stories of recovery. Wodak and Hall discussed the evidence in an editorial in the MJA, that also briefly noted the role of the media in confusing community attitudes. Stuart Reece would never forget this and has “blamed” not only these scientists but projected responsibility for his conduct onto these very individuals.

He has slandered both of these brilliant internationally renowned scientists whilst under Parliamentary protection accusing Hall of “scientific fraud”. And he has ignored the Hippocratic oath in his quest to slander and destroy Dr. Wodakʼs reputation.

Yet Stuart Reece’s real crime is quite stunning indeed.

In September 1999 he was raided for his reckless naltrexone, addictive benzodiazapine and faith healing caper. Threatened with closure he claimed that the QLD government would have blood on itʼs hands if he didnʼt get his way. 20 months later, 25 patients were dead  because he got exactly what he wanted. He was raided and closed down again, much to the ire of the Christian Democrat Party – whose “federal drug policy” proudly claims individual Aussies have no civil rights in this respect.

Biblical love is in abundance whenever Dr. Reece is faced with evidence. Three months after claiming 25 “drug addicts” died as “part of a conspiracy”, Reece dropped all pretense and did the media circuit as a faith healer. In fact these “patients” earned him thousands of dollars per head only to be prescribed addictive benzodiazapines – later to contribute to cause of death – as the untrialled and untested naltrexone failed. Had basic support – such as a contact or counseling – been available, heroin overdoses would be highly unlikely. As I noted above, this was never about helping addicts so much as winning a moral argument, and the lucrative contracts that must one day follow.

In October 2005 Christian conservative present Opposition Leader Tony Abbott MP Liberal (then Federal Health Minister) funded Drug Free Australia to the tune of $600,000. They breached almost every condition under which they were awarded the funding, ultimately emerging as right wing lobbyists – not therapists – and set about promoting Creationism, Conservatism and Punishment for all. They are devout followers of Swedenʼs zero tolerance policy and the USA hardliners [open letter] who cling to lucrative contracts and powerful identities. Reece, a supporter of biblically driven abstinence and Texas trained fundamentalist was back with backing.

By April 2007 Dr. Reece was testifying to a Parliamentary Inquiry that the immoral policies that permitted condoms – the real cause behind AIDS – clean needles, opioid therapy for addicts, non-punitive cannabis laws, harm reduction and general tolerance for ill Aussies would be our doom. In utter amazement the Senate Standing Committee stared as this “expert” whoʼd introduced himself by saying “I certainly know the science”, displayed a photo of “the archaeological site of Sodom” and a tree with snakes instead of branches. [Page 33/FHS 27]. The point to this? “There will be consequences”.

Reece’s grip on reality can be gleaned from this exchange before a Standing Senate Committee, as he attempts to explain the moral “consequences” of sinful policies such as Harm Minimisation, by blaming a tsunami on Divine punishment. He also continues:

I was interested to discover that the actual historical site of Sodom and Gomorrah has recently been found in Israel. On the bottom right of this slide are pictures of sulphur balls that have been found there. So consequences matter, and they can destroy a civilisation quickly, as we saw with yesterday’s tsunami and so on.
This slide shows a tree with snakes, which to my mind is a lot of the stories that you hear from harm minimisation. Methadone, syringe giveaways, injectingrooms, medical cannabis, heroin trials all those are catered for by the same people. But, on the other side of the tree, you have all the downsides, the side effects, which are not talked about in this culture. It is of extreme concern to me that medical science which is known and understood overseas is not understood and not talked about and given no airplay whatsoever in this culture.
These are old slides I made several years ago, charting a lot of these behaviours: this is condoms and the AIDS risk, charting the parallel between condoms and AIDS deaths.
Ms GEORGE (Senate committee member): Sorry, I do not understand. What are you saying – condom protection andAIDS deaths are correlated?
Dr Reece: Yes, condom sales and AIDS deaths. I am saying that there is a statistical association between the two.

As reported in Crikey by Ray Moynihan our world expert decided the “disease drugs, sex and rock-n-roll” was the problem at hand. Asked about the safety of naltrexone, Dr. Reece immaturely attacked the internationally renowned scientist, Dr. Wodak [Page 59/FHS54], who specialiseʼs in blood born viruses and epidemiology – which means he supports condoms, clean syringe access and used syringe collection: dire threats to our very civilisation, claimed Reece. This childish ad hominem approach is common despite the fact entire shires with dozens of dispensaries and hundreds of clients report no methadone deaths.

Compared to 25 deaths at the hands of one man in a year and a half, at worst we can find diverted supply accessed by children. Dr. Albert Stuart Reeceʼs real world record is clearly in reckless fatalities.

How did Committee Chairperson react to this insanity? Bronwyn Bishop abused public health scientists (who had outlined the success of decriminalisation in Europe) yet gushed uncontrollably in support of Dr. Reece. A pre-determined agenda in what was billed as the most important family relevant inquiry of Howardʼs government spoke volumes. Bishops final report was rejected nationwide by all but religious fundamentalists and Christian lobbyists. Not one single publically funded treatment or advocacy agency in our nation missed the opportunity to criticise in scathing terms her “report”. Which you may remember from coverage of her wish to “take the children” of drug users with “absolutely no chance” of reunion.

Gordon Moyes, our “Christian voice in politics” is also quoted on rumours in Drug Free Australia’s recent attack upon Lancet authors, of which Reece is a co-author. Think about that. Reece’s experiment in linking treatment access to church attendance and worship passion, killed 25 patients yet he dismisses the import as due to “false reports by drug addicts”. But this year co-authors a paper quoting Moyes who is quoting drug addicts he happened to speak to. Moyes also forgot about Proverbs 24, Verse 11 shouting praise for naltrexone despite the grave concerns of our medical community about it remaining unregulated – but lucrative for the same people year in, year out.

When the Medical Journal of Australia exposed the fact these same misguided faith healers were not reporting adverse reactions – despite TGA requirements under the Special Access loophole demanding it of them – Dr. God’s team were having none of this “academic stuff”. Drug Free Australia actually published a sorta, kinda rebuttal. And yes, adorning the page is direct reference to Dr. Stuart Reece himself. In deeply offensive mockery boasting how Reece “studies” death rates post treatment they entitled their piece of twaddle, Australia could be the biggest loser.

I could go on and on, and the above is a cut down sanitised version sparing you Dr. Reeceʼs sickening obsession with teenage and childhood sex and sexual assault, murder, violence… all due to “the depraved advertising industry” which catalysed “the disease sex, drugs and rock-n-roll”. Advertising womenʼs nudity, outside of “a strictly medical context” is, in his ever so wise [and medically qualified] eyes, “incredibly powerful pornography.”

Today, a decade plus since this intellectual repugnance began, Reece is front and centre as a pin up boy for religious fundamentalism. Five or more years ago he promised Parliament with a blinding flash of Peacock Terminology that his results were “statistically powerful” and “revolutionary”. Of course, there are no results. Itʼs the same certainty that only faith can sustain. If prayer cures homosexuality, addiction is a certainty. His latest work “proves” naltrexone is safer than opioid therapy.

As reported on ABCʼs 7:30 Report  in 2006 multiple disciplinary teams have steadily found naltrexone has a fatality rate over four times that of opioid therapy. Dr. Reece, and others who seek funding and massive contracts seem to have a magic formula no others can find. More recent work with implants by his colleague, gynecologist George O’Neil, show ambiguous results, despite claims of success.

Regrettably this work is tainted with poor practice and again, Christian healing. Their biggest problem is the fraud published in the MJA surrounding suppression of negative outcomes – some almost fatal. Failure and coercion to boost sample numbers seems to be the norm. W.A.’s Freshstart clinic observes on it’s sites chaplaincy page:

Our Christian Beliefs

The Nature and Character of God: we believe in one God, who has existed forever as Father, Son and Holy Spirit in a community of pure and eternal love.

The Fresh Start Statement of Belief embodies the second of the core commitments of the organisation:

The Creation of Humanity: men and women were created in God’s likeness with God-given dignity and worth in order to know, love and serve him forever.

Sin and Evil: sin came into existence through human rebellion against the good purposes of God. Sin is self-centred opposition to the love of God that separates humans from God and leads to death and eternal lostness.

Etc, etc….

There is no problem with having a strong faith. Yet there’s a difference between faith based welfare and faith based practices. When the supernatural impinges on your objective reasoning in managing the lives of others, no amount of friendly lobbyists can assuage this conflict of interest.

Today, Stuart Reece’s bizarre conduct runs up quite a litany. Drug Free Australia bill him as “an expert in naltrexone” and in fatalities. Is this a joke? I honestly don’t know. What’s certain however is that his role in the recent DFA misleading outing to attack Vancouver’s Insite and the research backing it is not based upon any skill in harm reduction.

He is driven by a singular hatred for harm reduction which in turn is driven by extreme biblical fundamentalism. That this detracts further from Gary Christian’s claimed objective professionalism is clear.

Drug Free Australia have many secrets. This one is quite shameful.

  • Comments posted online from a relative and a friend of Reeceʼs patients.

Just Jules says: June 5, 2010 at 6:01 am Ahhh there is none so blind as those who can not see .. Dr Reece in my eyes is a discusting (sic) human being .. I am the mother of a child he treated .. He also treated my daughter in law and the mother of my first grand child .. If you want to see what his methods leave you with, go see my daughter in law who for the last 11 years has been in a home for the severely brain damaged .. In is own words to me ” they are just reoffending drug addicts”. He is a wolf in sheeps clothing and should of been stopped before he started.

Vicki PS says: July 5, 2010 at 12:02 pm I came across this site looking for help for a friend of my daughterʼs. This young woman has been increasingly unhappy with her treatment under Dr Reece. He is treating her addiction with Suboxone, a subutex/naltrexone combination drug. Her big concern is that this unethical, immoral disgrace to the profession reduces her dosage if she has not been to church! This girl is now in early pregnancy and is scared that she could miscarry if this idiot messes around with her medication to suit his pathological world view. I find it frankly incredible that Dr Reece is still permitted to practice.