'ICE' is everyone's business

HUGE RESPONSE: More than 550 people attended the 'ice' forum on Wednesday, July 29 at Central Oval. They heard what the drug 'ice' is, ad how it can affect people. PHOTO: Kara Johnson
HUGE RESPONSE: More than 550 people attended the 'ice' forum on Wednesday, July 29 at Central Oval. They heard what the drug 'ice' is, ad how it can affect people. PHOTO: Kara Johnson

THE COMMUNITY 'ice' forum held last Wednesday has been called a huge success.

Around 550 people packed the basketball courts at Central Oval to listen to talks from industry experts and people who have dealt with the drug personally.

The audience was 'captured' with talks from seven different speakers covering the impacts from 'ice'.

A recent case in Port Augusta was explained in detail to educate the listeners on the work going into apprehending criminals.

The case started as a tip off and ended after a two-year investigation.

There were numerous arrests and the seizure of $1 million in drugs, $72,000 in cash plus properties and vehicles.

Associate professor Doctor Nicole Lee, who is a consultant psychologist and associate professor at the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA), spoke about the statistics and facts around meth use and addiction in Australia.

She said around 2.1 per cent of the Australian population have used 'ice' in the past 12 months, but there has not been a huge increase in new users.

"There's no epidemic, but that's not to say we don't have a problem," Dr Lee said.

"Seventy per cent are irregular users, using less than once per month, 15 per cent are occasional users, using more than once a month, and 15 per cent are regular users, using weekly or more.

"The last 15 per cent are more likely to be addicted, and could have severe mental health issues."

Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council director Scott Wilson spoke about his own personal experience using drugs and being jailed, in addition to how he recovered and is now dealing with family members using drugs too.

He also spoke about ADAC's involvement in helping aboriginal people who may be using crystal meth, and the effects it has.

Local doctor Amanda Bethell spoke about her experience in helping people at a local level and where people can get help.

SA Police also made a presentation with Adelaide-based detective brevet sergeant David Hunt covering the different kinds of ice made, the appalling conditions in which it is made and the lack of quality control.

The Red Cross hosted the forum in conjunction with SA Police and Stirling North Neighbourhood Watch, thanks to a grant from the RAA.

Port Augusta Red Cross regional coordinator Maralyn Marsh said the response to the forum had been overwhelming.

"I was really pleased with the amount of people who came, and the cross section of people of all different ages was good," Ms Marsh said.

"Overall, the organising committee was really happy about it."

Far North Crime Prevention Sergeant Ian Feltus agreed, saying it was exceptional to have such a huge amount of people attend.

"To capture people for three hours, that is a response from a concerned community," Sergeant Feltus said.

Port Augusta's detective senior sergeant Peter Hore emphasised the need for the community to help police with the issue.

He explained how even if information is given to police it could require more investigation to ensure the correct outcomes.

"Just because something doesn't happen straight away, doesn't mean something won't happen," detective senior sergeant Hore said.

- People using frequently, taking up to 1g-2g a day and the current average cost of 'ice' is around $300 a gram.

- 2.1 per cent of Australia's population has used meth in the past 12 months. This includes people who have just used once in the last 12 months, and those who have used every day. It hasn't changed in the last 10 years.

- "There's no epidemic, but that's not to say we don't have a problem as there's not a huge increase in 'new users' but existing users are an issue".

"On current evidence, existing users are using more pure forms and more often which carries a higher likelihood of problems including dependence and therefore we should be putting more resources into treatment to reduce use," Dr Nicole Lee said.

- 70 per cent are irregular users, using less than once per month, 15 per cent are occasional users, using more than once a month, and 15 per cent are regular users, using weekly or more.

- The last 15 per cent are more likely to be addicted, and could have severe mental health issues.

- 70 per cent are employed in most capital cities, but remote and very remote are more likely to use.

- There's been a sharp increase in the purity of the drug over recent years.

- Meth users are more likely to use a lot of other drugs too, both legal and illegal drugs.

- There's been an increase in people coming into treatment.

- 86 per cent of people relapse after one year. It takes a long time to get off meth and people are likely to relapse along the way - we need to support them through those relapses.

- Counselling is the best method of treatment and it can take 12-18 months for their brain to get back to normal.

"The gold standard treatment is cognitive behaviour therapy and is effective in helping people quit and also reduce depression symptoms," Dr Nicole Lee said.