ONE LIFE ONE CHOICE

The Australian Mining Review - - DRUG & ALCOHOL EDUCATION - ELIZ­A­BETH FABRI

THE min­ing in­dus­try is ‘ kid­ding it­self’ if it doesn’t think it has a sub­stance abuse prob­lem, ac­cord­ing to Sid­ef­fect chief executive David Hobbs.

“The min­ing in­dus­try has the same prob­lems as build­ing, con­struc­tion and the trans­port in­dus­try when it comes to the use of il­licit and syn­thetic sub­stance abuse,” he said.

The United Na­tions Of­fice on Drugs and Crime World Drug Re­port 2017 puts Aus­tralia among the largest con­sumers of Meth in the world and a study from the Na­tional Drug and Al­co­hol Re­search Cen­tre showed re­gional ar­eas ac­count for 40 per cent of metham­phetamine-re­lated deaths; Sid­ef­fect is tack­ling this statis­tic.

“Syn­thetic drugs in the re­sources sec­tor and other Australian work­places are on the rise, with work­ers in­creas­ingly see­ing syn­thetic drugs as an ac­cept­able al­liance in their ca­reers,” Mr Hobbs said.

“We are find­ing more and more that high stress jobs with tight dead­lines, lack of work/ life bal­ance, and lack of sup­port are lead­ing peo­ple to take drugs, par­tic­u­larly of the am­phet­a­mine va­ri­ety, in or­der to ‘achieve’ the goals that are set for them, or that they may set for them­selves.

“It can quickly be­come an ac­cepted work­place cul­ture, spread­ing like wild­fire.”

While min­ing com­pa­nies have strict an­tidrug and al­co­hol poli­cies and rig­or­ous test­ing al­ready, the is­sue with syn­thetic drugs is that many still go by un­de­tected be­cause of their chem­i­cal makeup.

“All of th­ese drugs are out there to mimic other il­licit drugs at a frac­tion of the price, the dangers are pro­lific, as there is no qual­ity con­trol and it is highly dan­ger­ous,” he said.

“This is now a $4.4 bil­lion prob­lem in Aus­tralia and needs to be cleaned up.”

Mr Hobbs said he hoped once peo­ple heard that drugs such as Meth con­tained bat­tery acid, phos­pho­rous, and lime – all things that you’d buy at Bun­nings – they would re­con­sider go­ing down that path.

“Un­like phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal drugs, no mea­sure­ments were used dur­ing the man­u­fac­ture, mak­ing the fin­ished prod­uct dif­fer­ent in com­pound ev­ery time that they are made,” he said.

“We in­form peo­ple what’s in th­ese sub­stances, what the out­comes will be both short and long term and what they have got to re­mem­ber.”

Sid­ef­fect con­ducts drug education pro­grams across Aus­tralia, which have been de­vel­oped with un­for­get­table con­tent that is con­fronting, mem­o­rable and ed­u­ca­tional.

“We leave a last­ing im­pres­sion that will hope­fully be there when or if some­one is of­fered a syn­thetic sub­stance to take,” Mr Hobbs said.

“Men­tal ill­ness, psy­chosis, job loss, com­mu­nity safety, fam­ily abuse, a feel­ing of isolation and dis­con­nect; syn­thetic drugs have a whole bag of tricks that we need to start spread­ing the mes­sage about.”

In Novem­ber, Sid­ef­fect un­der­took a course in Bun­bury for ap­pren­tices at ABN group, in­clud­ing a drug education talk, and an as­sess­ment with a group of mod­ules and ques­tions re­lated to syn­thet­ics drugs.

“It’s been run­ning for about a year, it’s been road tested and it’s dif­fer­ent to other cur­ricu­lums be­cause there is a video that’s very emo­tional that we show that’s the story of Pre­ston Bridge,” he said.

“We’re ready to get in­volved with other min­ing com­pa­nies.

“We al­ready do work with Rio Tinto, with

“This is now a $4.4 bil­lion prob­lem in Aus­tralia and needs to be cleaned up.”

tes­ti­mo­ni­als from them com­ing back very strong, and we would like the phones to ring for other peo­ple from min­ing and con­struc­tion to get on board and give us a hand.”

Sid­ef­fect is also launch­ing an Orange Card ini­tia­tive that will be rolled out across Australian work­places to en­sure em­ploy­ees have a strong un­der­stand­ing of syn­thetic drugs and the neg­a­tive ef­fects on work and per­sonal life. More in­for­ma­tion can be found at www.sid­ef­fect.org.au.

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