Rural jump in ice use

RURAL ICE: Drug and alcohol specialist from NSW Health Dr Gilbert Whitton was one of the speakers at Goulburn's community ice forum last year. Photo: Peter Oliver.

RURAL ICE: Drug and alcohol specialist from NSW Health Dr Gilbert Whitton was one of the speakers at Goulburn's community ice forum last year. Photo: Peter Oliver.

Findings presented to an alcohol and drug conference in Sydney recently revealed the use of crystal methamphetamine, or ice, has increased by 150 per cent between 2007 and 2013.

The study compared rural communities and metropolitan areas, with ice found to be used twice as much in rural Australia than larger cities. 

Men between the ages of 18 and 24 were identified as the most frequent users of ice. 

This comes after $1.4 million was awarded this February to support adult and youth specific treatment in Southern NSW over the next four years.  

Crystal methamphetamine (‘ice’) is a stimulant drug, which means it speeds up the messages travelling between the brain and the body. It is commonly known as speed.

Pathways Goulburn Region team leader Kaylene Mallot said the funding has given the organisation a ‘flexibility’ when organising outreach.

Commencing their specialised service in May, Pathways Goulburn Region can now meet clients in surrounding areas such as Crookwell, Braidwood, Yass and Gunning. 

Ms Mallot said the ability to meet clients in different locations, including cafes and homes, encouraged more people to visit the office. 

“There is an enormous amount of stigma around drug use,” she said. “The NSW government has come a long way in providing services for those using ice and their families.”

But despite the progress in support, Ms Mallot says the social structure of regional cities could be detrimental.

“From what I see now, in Goulburn, there is a major ice problem,” she said. It is very difficult for people in regional communities, but there is also a fear that people will talk because communities are small and everyone knows each other. Because of this, users and families might take longer to come forward.” 

Pathways Goulburn Region have participated in 70 assessments since May and offer counselling, treatment and support services, family support and therapeutic groups for people who are dealing with ice and other drugs.  

Goulburn is one of three pilot areas for the NSW government’s ice treatment services.

  • For more information on Pathways Goulburn Region call 4855 0559.
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