A poisonous drug that eats away the family dynamic

ICE has been described as the drug of fear for users, family members, employers and friends — all of them struck by the sinister links and implications.

Glenelg Southern Grampians Drug Treatment Service manager Bev McIlroy told yesterday’s state parliamentary inquiry committee methamphetamine use was destroying families.

“The big difference between now and in past years is the naive category,” she said.

“Drug debts create fears people have never known before.”

Ms McIlroy referred to cases of young men crying during counselling sessions, then having to go outside looking over their shoulder fearing repercussions from drug dealers.

“Meth comes on so quickly — the fear for family members, with users ranging from teens to people in their 50s,” she said.

“The fear of retribution from dealers over drug debts. We’ve had murders associated with drug debts.

“It’s such a dangerous drug.

“The family dynamic is destroyed in months — brothers and sisters don’t want anything to with them because if affects the user so much.

“There is complete dysfunction. You can’t rationalise with users.

“There’s no sober — there’s use and then there’s withdrawal and people can quickly become dependent.”

Ms McIlroy said there had been a 63 per cent increase in contacts with her agency from families, welfare agencies and workplaces due to methamphetamines.

“Employers have asked for help because their most valuable employees are on it,” she said.

“Aboriginal families are asking how to deal with cultural issues when young people go outside the boundaries.

“GPs are not prepared for the increase of families asking for help. This drug trend is seen to be extremely harmful to our community.

“In recent media campaigns we were inundated with requests for ice information when all I wanted to talk about was the harmful effects of alcohol.

“Ice is a small percentage of our work.”

She said families were often reluctant to seek help in their home rural communities because of lack of anonymity.

WRAD chief executive Geoff Soma and the agency’s youth worker Cathy Bligh said ice use trailed behind alcohol and cannabis.

“Ice is not an epidemic — there are other drugs,” Mr Soma said.

“More people die because of alcohol than are killed on the roads.”

Mr Soma said the state government’s $165 million a year to fight drug issues was “like putting out a fire with a water pistol”.

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