REPORTS that children as young as 13 are being treated for addiction to crystal methamphetamine, or ice, are very disturbing.
Once the domain of large cities, it appears the drug has got a foothold in Tasmania.
The use of ice, or crystal methamphetamine hydrochloride to call it by its proper name, is spreading, largely due to its relative cheapness and ease of availability.
Abuse of the highly addictive drug is becoming more and more common in Tasmania, spreading from the cities to rural and regional communities.
Salvation Army staff undertook training in treatment methods late last year and have seen those services extend to George Town, Fingal and Beaconsfield to cope with increased demand.
Rural Health Tasmania said in May that ice use in the North-West was a grave concern – putting a strain on already stretched resources – and a specialised clinic in the North-West Coast was a matter of urgency.
Police have been making major inroads into the supply of illicit drugs with several high-profile busts recently but detection is only part of the solution.
That solution, if there can ever be such a thing for something so insidious and pervasive, involves more emphasis on educating children about the serious impacts of drug use.
Ice causes numerous side effects in users including restlessness and anxiety; aggression, hostility and violence; paranoia or panic attacks. Repeat users have been known to experience “amphetamine psychosis”, with symptoms similar to paranoid schizophrenia.
Drug counsellors describe ice as being instantly addictive: one use causing people to continually chase that first high along a downward spiral.
More support for providers of health and counselling services to help those impacted is also required.
Thinking that ice use is only a problem for lower socio-economic areas caught in generational drug abuse is also dangerous and wrong.
At risk are future generations of leaders who could be lost to the scourge of such an addictive drug.
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