Help for ice addicts

Listening to the dialogue unfolding at last week’s community information forum on ice – a highly purified form of methamphetamine – was eerily similar to other public meetings in this region in recent years dealing with suicide and mental health.
On one hand you had all the official agencies telling locals that the statistics didn’t paint a picture of a massive social problem peculiar to their district.
On the other hand you had residents dealing with the fall-out of suicide in their communities and wanting that pain acknowledged.
They also wanted some action because – rightly or wrongly – there was a perception that those who needed help couldn’t access the assistance they required.
Many positive moves evolved from that debate.
Residents formed action groups to take the preventative measures they felt were needed in their area.
Departments, agencies and authorities took steps to better communicate the services that were available and they offered more targeted services.
Overall the stigma surrounding mental health was chipped away as society spoke more openly about the problem, encouraging people to seek help.
Hopefully the public debate about ice will open up discussions about drug and alcohol use and addiction in general.
It might only be 2% of the population that uses methamphetamine (with 15% of that number suffering addiction) but this devastatingly potent substance is becoming the popular drug of choice, with all its associated social ills.
Now would be a good time to examine how we as a community can take a preventative approach towards drug use.
It would also be opportunistic to review what services are available, how they are communicated and if they are meeting community expectations.
Drug use is bigger than a 2% problem and it will take a community working together and demanding action to get the help they need, when they need and where they need it.
* People experiencing problems with mental heath or drug use can call the following help lines: Lifeline 13 11 14, Alcohol and Drug Information Service 1300 13 13 40, Family Drug Support 1300 368 186.