ONE of the biggest shifts in the Australian drug market over the past decade or so has been the rise of ice amphetamine.
Old fears about addicts drifting into deathly overdoses on heroin have been replaced with the tales of ambulance workers and police having to wrestle down crazed amphetamine users who’ve gone two or three days without sleep.
The reasons behind the switch from heroin to amphetamine are complex and international. The shift may have started after 9-11, when the invasion of Afghanistan cut supplies of raw opium, leading criminal syndicates to invest instead in amphetamine factories. Regardless of cause, ice is by far the most popular and powerful powder drug on Australian streets, and its unpredictable impacts have put fear into the families of drug users, and created new problems for the agencies who have to deal with those under the influence.
To help those with concerns, the Alcohol and Drug Foundation is hosting its latest “Breaking The Ice” forum at East Maitland Bowling Club on Wednesday, October 26.
Organisers say the forum will provide expert information about ice by “cutting through rumours and misinformation about drugs”. Those taking part can have their “questions answered during a panel discussion where the audience will be encouraged to ask questions of our panelists”.
The Alcohol and Drug Foundation website – adf.org.au – contains helpful information about ice use. To counter the natural fear factor, the foundation notes that despite an “enormous amount of attention” given to ice, “only a small number of people use ice regularly and only a small proportion of users will experience problems”.
That said, reliance on ice amphetamine is a serious situation and one that will often have a dramatic impact on the family and friends of someone in the grip of addiction.
While some politicians still talk of a “war on drugs”, such rhetoric carries little weight at an individual level. Unfortunately, as one drug and alcohol worker told the Newcastle Herald, there is no authorised replacement drug for ice in the way that methadone is prescribed for heroin users. From this worker’s perspective, problems with ice abuse in the Hunter region are continuing to grow. Even so, amphetamine addiction can be beaten. But as the foundation recognises, the person with the habit has to want to stop for the treatment to succeed.