Ice epidemic stretching services

Colac Area Health’s Chris Kendall.

COLAC and district drug users are increasingly getting hooked on the drug ice, paying up to $300 a hit and stretching support services.

Addicts have told Colac drug counsellors they are paying $100 a point, which is a tenth of a gram, for ice, or methamphetamine, which counsellors say is on par with the value of cocaine.

Colac Area Health drug and alcohol services co-ordinator Chris Kendall said most addicts would smoke or inject between one and three points for a single high from the increasingly popular and highly dangerous drug.

Mr Kendall said ice use had skyrocketed in Colac and district in the past six to nine months, with more than 60 per cent of Colac Area Health’s drug counselling clients seeking help for ice use.

He said about 20 per cent of clients had an ice problem only nine months ago.

“We’re seeing ice being used across the age range, not necessarily just with young people but also with a lot of older people,” Mr Kendall said.

“I’m even seeing people I’ve worked with for quite some time that were cannabis users that are now using ice,” he said.

“Most people we are getting are already addicted – people become addicted to ice fairly quickly.”

Mr Kendall said the popularity of ice was increasing, despite its high health and financial price tag, and the demand for help was stretching Colac counselling services.

“Alcohol and drug counselling is running at 164 per cent – we are having an increase in drug presentations across the board but we are noticing a very definite increase in ice use,” he said.

“If there is a new drug or a drug suddenly takes off they will use it for two to three months then seek help,” Mr Kendall said.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see an increase early next year but we will cope and put strategies in place so people can be seen – it doesn’t matter how many people we will find a way to see everybody,” he said.

Mr Kendall said it was a positive sign that ice addicts were seeking help and Colac was “not any better or worse than other any other areas”.

“Geelong, Warrnambool and Melbourne – their client load has the same proportion – the whole state has experienced an increase in ice use,” he said.

Mr Kendall said the community would continue to suffer from ice’s flow-on effects, including drug-related crime, and he encouraged people to get help.

He said giving up ice was “on par with trying to give up speed or heroin”.

“So there are significant withdrawals especially the first few days,” Mr Kendall said.

“They can contact us personally or through reception and we will see them as soon as possible,” he said.

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