A FORUM about drugs and addiction, especially the drug “ice”, was held at the West Gippsland Arts Centre on Wednesday [last week].
Above: Ambulance Victoria South Coast group manager Eddie Wright speaking at the forum.
This article was first published in the 10 October 2014 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen. Get your copy now for even more news and entertainment.
A number of representatives from key law, drug and mental health organisations spoke at the event, which was timed to tie in with Mental Health Week.
Ambulance Victoria South Coast group manager Eddie Wright, spoke of the issues his staff and other emergency services face when responding to patients on drugs, and said the common word for crystal methamphetamine, “ice,” was not appropriate.
“I think we give ice a name that we shouldn’t use,” he said.
“Methamphetamine is what we should refer to. By calling it ice we start indicating it’s useful to us, which it’s completely not.
“The problem we are starting to see in ambulances is it’s going to have an affect not just on the person using it, but on the broader community. It has an effect on the emergency services.
“One user can have an effect on a whole community, hospitals.”
Mr Wright said his staff were being put at greater risk by addicts.
“One of the things we’re actually starting to see is assault on ambulance staff. As the manager of the district… one of my concerns now is my staff getting assaulted in these sorts of events.
“These people go from being in a calm state to fight or flight, they’re bouncing. We don’t know how they’re going to behave and that’s why we’re beginning to see the violence.”
Mr Wright showed images of how the drug is often packaged.
“This is the stuff we are starting to see in our industry,” he said.
“That’s one tenth of a gram. With that small a quantity, we see people in our industry now calling for us to have a system because [users are] mixing it with other drugs, alcohol.”
“Gippsland ambulance call-outs were about 76,000 last year. Twelve thousand of those related to drug and alcohol-related events.
“So that’s 12,000 people who probably ended up in police care or into a hospital system. The flow-on effect from that you can imagine – beds are tied up.”
Headspace Central West Gippsland centre manager Sally Walker said drug abuse was one of many responses to situations some youth may turn to, and common misinformation was not helping.
“Young people need to have good information to make good choices, and for us what we see commonly is young people who have found information from Doctor Google, Facebook sites, information from friends, and the accuracy of that information is often the thing that leads to young people being at risk.”
Ms Walker said Headspace can help people between the ages of 12 and 25 find help and other ways of coping.
“We really encourage young people to come and seek information, and family and friends who want information too.
“We provide a wrap-around service. So if a young person presents and they want to see a GP about a particular issue, then from that discussion they might say ‘oh, maybe I’ll talk to a youth worker or maybe I will seek some help for a referral.'”
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