Ice addiction has taken Australia by storm — and the effects are deadly.
Across Australia, officials are talking about soaring rates of meth addiction, warning that levels of meth use have reached pandemic proportions. Crystal methamphetamine or “ice” is ravaging Australia’s communities at every level and has officials and residents alike worried about what can be done.
Ice is extremely addictive — more so than other amphetamines because it is metabolised in the body more quickly. The drug is generally inhaled, but can also be used intravenously — and in fact 60% of all intravenous drug users in Australia have used meth in the last six months — a significant increase over the past few years.
But it is not only intravenous drug users trying meth. An outstanding 7% of all Australians have tried ice at some point in their lives. This is compared to only 1.2% ever trying heroin — meaning that as a nation people are uninformed of the dangers and addictive potential of the drug, and are more likely to try it despite the severe consequences of developing an ice addiction.
The biggest increase in ice use has been in Victoria, but the entire nation is experiencing the negative effects of meth addiction. Ice addiction and its use is particularly dangerous as it is associated with drug induced psychosis, violence, and erratic behaviour. Meth does not allow people to sleep, so users are often awake for several days at a time and lose touch with reality.
Some attribute the increase in meth addiction and related problems in part to the fact that there are now purer forms of the drug reaching the streets. In Victoria, the number of meth related ambulance calls has doubled in recent years, and ice is now the second leading cause of drug overdose, after heroin. Officials say it has surpassed heroin as Australia’s most dangerous illicit drug.
Meth Addiction’s Deadly Impact
It is no doubt that meth addiction is fuelling and being fuelled by major transnational organised crime groups. The increase in purity is in part due to importation of the drug from “mega-labs” in Southeast Asia and China. These large scale operations are not the garage labs found in Australia and are able to produce a purer form of crystal meth — and lots of it.
The price of ice is higher in Australia than anywhere else in the world, so international crime gangs target Australia for distribution and they are making huge profits at the expense of Australian neighbourhoods which are struggling due to the misery the drug creates.
Once in the thralls of ice addiction, users are sometimes forced to work in drug-trafficking to pay off debts. Ordinary people are getting involved with heavy criminals.
Effect of the Ice Epidemic on Society
Because of the violent nature of meth addiction, law enforcement is faced with increased violent crime. Police in Victoria claim approximately one in five meth users were arrested for violent crimes from 2013 to 2014. Meth lab explosions endanger communities, and as illicit drug use increases, so does theft, drugged-driving, and numerous other violent and petty crimes.
Fourteen homicides in as many months can be linked to meth addiction and use. The drug is killing people, and leaving whole communities to mourn — and experts say that they expect meth use to continue rising in the short to medium term.
The ice epidemic is distressing for communities and straining systems at all levels. Emergency rooms, law enforcement, grass roots mental health organisations, and families are all seeing the effects of ice addiction, and are currently ill-equipped to deal with the situation. Australian officials assert that large investments are necessary to tackle the problem, and must involve the whole community, as well as focus on harm reduction for users.
According to Australian officials, the response to the ice epidemic will take collaboration from all areas of society. Governments, law enforcement, social services, educators, and parents will all have to work together in order to make a difference. The problem cannot be solved by just law enforcement efforts alone.
Some drug rehab centres have retrained employees to handle meth users specifically, as they can be more difficult to deal with than other types of drug addicts. But the fact remains that these people need help in the form of proper addiction treatment. And Australian treatment providers are faced with a very powerful substance addiction that causes users significant mental and physical problems — without adequate addiction treatment facilities to battle it.
Meth Addiction Treatment
While some may still think that meth addiction only affects poorer stricken populations, it does not discriminate. One former high-functioning meth addict speaks about his addiction and finally getting help. As a college educated man he found himself crying to doctors about his ice addiction and simply being told to “stop.” He describes a misunderstanding of the power that the drug holds and a sense of hopelessness as his world shrunk.
The people he knew who were also using the drug were other high-functioning addicts—doctors, lawyers, and scholars, who he says like himself had their entire worth tied up in achievements. They were seeking the drug to fill the gaps and quickly became addicted. Many people initially use ice when under the influence of alcohol, when their natural fear of the drug is inhibited — but just one time can be enough to start the roller coaster ride of addiction.
Finally, the man was able to get the drug addiction help he needed at St. Vincent’s hospital. But he was lucky. There is currently a major shortage of treatment options in Australia, and many suffering from meth addiction are waiting months to receive treatment in overcrowded, ill-equipped treatment centres.
Treatment for meth addiction, like many other substance addictions requires a holistic and psychological approach. At The Cabin Sydney we offer a comprehensive, integrative approach to addiction recovery. Contact us today if you or someone you love is in need of meth addiction treatment.