Medical professionals have welcomed the launch of a national taskforce to combat Australia’s growing ice (crystal methamphetamine) usage.
The taskforce, involving local, state and federal governments, will look at ways to address the increasing use of methamphetamine through education, health and law enforcement. It will propose a national ice action strategy.
Dr Arun Rasanayagam, from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, has operated on, and treated more than, 40 people with drug-related problems in the past year and a half and says something needs to be done.
“It is very sad to see people, particularly teenagers and youth suffer from drug abuse. I’ve dealt with a lot of these people both professionally and personally and it is heart-breaking to watch them struggle,” Dr Rasanayagam said.
“Last year, I operated on over 20 people who had overdosed on drugs and some of them could not be saved.
“I hope the taskforce’s report will help Tony Abbott and the government find a solution so these people can be saved and live full and happy lives.”
Ice presents the highest risk of all illegal drugs, with rates of ice usage almost doubling in the past 12 months, a landmark report from the Australian Crime Commission recently found.
Simone Russell from Odyssey House, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre, said she has witnessed this rise first-hand, with more users than ever admitted into the centre this month.
“Ice use has increased and lately we have had a lot of young people in the 18-22 age range admitted into the centre. I don’t know how they start on the drugs but once they get in, it is difficult to get out,” she said.
“Their drug use causes all sorts of problems, including school grades slipping and relationships with family and friends suffering. Our job is to provide hope and inspire positive change for people overcoming their addictions and save them so they can live fulfilling lives.”
Mr Abbott has pledged to focus on all aspects of the “menace” of the drug .
“Ice is far more addictive than any other illicit drug. It does far more damage than any other illicit drug,” he said.
The taskforce’s interim report will be discussed at the next meeting of the Council of Australian Governments. – Vishnavi Kulenthirarasa
Top image by Mohammad Rassawala.