WHAT’S BEING DONE TO STOP ICE SCOURGE
Treatment for meth addiction comes in many forms and is available in Rockingham through the South Metropolitan Community Alcohol and Drug Service’s Palmerston Association centre.
Manager Bram Dickens oversees the Rockingham centre and said the first step in the treatment process was identifying a person’s drug of concern.
“We offer specialist medical treatment and counselling,” he said.
“Our centre is designed to be inviting and encourage people to feel comfortable and want to return.
“In home detox assistance is also provided by the Drug and Alcohol Withdrawal Network who are also in our centre.”
Mission Australia’s Drug and Alcohol Youth Service provides 24hour access to treatment services for young people aged 12-19.
DAYS program manager Jacob, whose surname is protected, said the team of experts helped young people by addressing substance abuse, nutrition and fitness.
“We have rehabilitation and transitional programs to assist people and improve their health and wellbeing,” he said.
“Almost 50 per cent of participants in the residential rehab identify meth as their primary drug of concern.
“The key to success is for young people to remove themselves from their peer group.”
The Federal Government launched the WA Meth Strategy earlier this year and outlined three fronts from which they would fight meth — education, support and supply. Support service funding, an established meth-help hotline and boosted roadside drug testing are some of the Government’s strategies.
The link between meth and mental health is another issue for agencies with the association between users and psychosis very high.
WA Police are working to improve the way officers handle mental health and drug-related call-outs.
A two-year trial of mental health and police co-response teams has started in the South East Metropolitan district.
Police Minister Liza Harvey said senior mental health clinicians would work alongside frontline police.
“Police attended more than 17,000 mental health call-outs last financial year,” she said.
“We hope to reduce the number of transports to emergency depart- ments and improve officer safety.”
Education is the key to prevention and something that long-serving Member for Rockingham Mark McGowan believes should be instilled from a young age.
“Long-term solutions should be based on intensive education that is integrated in school curriculums,” he said. “The key to stopping people taking meth for the first time begins in primary school.
“We need to make it difficult for meth users to fit in socially and schools need to provide the drug education that some children may not receive from their parents.”
Many agencies dealing with meth addiction are further educating their staff to address the current spike.
“We have brought in researchers and held a meth forum so that we are up to date with the latest information,” Palmerston co-ordinator Emma Thomas said. “Our staff al- ready have a fantastic knowledge base but we can always look for improvements.”
Mr Dickens said new treatments could be an option in the future.
“We have pharmacotherapy that works with opiates and now researchers want to identify if there is a pharmacotherapy that might work with meth,” he said.
Mr Dickens said while families could be forgiven for pleading in desperation to have their son or daughter locked up, the reality was individual client motivation was a key element of successful treatment for meth use.
“People are referred to our services through different avenues but the most successful way is always self-referral,” he said.
“Often there is a trigger that provides a wake-up call which can be anything from a relationship breakdown to trouble with the law.
“The clients that we see are ready to address their issue.”
Mr Dickens said researchers were now aware that meth was more addictive than any drug they had encountered and the recovery period was long and hard.
“Other drugs don’t have the same effects on the brain as we have seen from meth,” he said.
“This recovery period can be anywhere from 12-18 months and can be a bleak time.”
Mr Dickens said it was during these months that people were most at risk of relapsing.
“Our response to this is to educate our clients and their friends and families about the long recovery period and provide continuing care services to support them through their recovery,” he said.
Mr Dickens said engaging families in the recovery process was extremely important.
“It is a tough journey but the important thing is that there are services available and committed people working hard to provide as much help and support as they can in our communities,” he said.
Jim, Helen and Jacob are part of Mission Australia’s Drug and Alcohol Youth Service team helping young people overcome meth addiction.