Comments Off on Crystal Methamphetamine becoming all the rage on the (Australian) Coast

IN 2000, Neil Mellor was working for a drug crisis information service in Victoria when he fielded a call from a distraught mother being terrified by her daughter’s boyfriend.

The young man was experiencing a violent episode and the woman feared for the safety of herself and her loved ones.

“He had gone psychotic and was wrecking the house,” Mr Mellor said.


“It took four police to subdue him. He had never had an episode of violent behaviour before.”

The call is believed to be the first made to a drug crisis centre in Australia concerning crystallised methamphetamine.

Mr Mellor is a 33-year veteran of alcohol and drug rehabilitation. Today he lectures at the University of the Sunshine Coast, as well as seeing clients in private practice.

Since taking that first call he has seen the use of crystallised methamphetamine – colloquially known as ice – increase dramatically.

Now he fears Australia could be following a pattern similar to the United States and heading towards an epidemic.

One of the major problems with ice is that it is relatively cheap and readily available.

It is often made in backyard laboratories from unknown ingredients. It is highly toxic and its side effects are severe, especially for first-time users.

The ice age

Australian authorities began becoming concerned about ice in the early 1990s, however, it was not until a decade later that it started to become more prevalent.

Rates of ice and methamphetamine use in Australia are high compared to other western countries, with 2.5% of people over 14 reporting they used it in the previous 12 months.

Rates of use in Queensland, and on the Sunshine Coast, are difficult to establish, however, there is evidence to suggest its use is increasing in other states.

Mr Mellor said while all illicit drugs were dangerous, ice was especially so.

Users display poor impulse control, high levels of aggression and violent behaviour.

His comments follow the Daily’s report of a court case involving 19-year-old Beau William Glen, who narrowly avoided jail after assaulting a police officer during an amphetamine-fuelled rage.

He pleaded guilty to seven charges in Maroochydore Magistrates Court, however, was given probation after magistrate Cliff Taylor took into account the fact it was his first criminal offence.

Glen’s lawyer claimed the incident was out of character for the apprentice carpenter and it was his first experience with the drug.

Mr Mellor said ice was particularly dangerous for first-time users, many of whom were not aware of its effects.

“It’s dangerous for two particular reasons,” he said.

“Firstly it can be made in a backyard and of a poor quality or it could be high potency – so its ingredients are of an unknown origin.

“Secondly, it’s highly toxic. It’s a poison. People who might take recreational drugs such as ecstasy might take it not knowing the consequences and therefore it could be very dangerous.”

The next epidemic?

Mr Mellor said growing rates of ice use led him to fear an epidemic was developing in Australia.

There was evidence to suggest use was increasing and availability of ice made it cause for concern.

The Sunshine Coast was poorly equipped to deal with ice addiction, mainly due to its lack of accessible detoxification programs.

While there are private detox facilities, many are expensive and out of reach for those in lower socio-economic brackets.

“(An ice addict’s) only option (for treatment on the Sunshine Coast) is hospitalisation at Nambour Hospital, and that facility relies on someone already being withdrawn,” he said.

“It is limited in what it can provide to users suffering acute withdrawal.”

Mr Mellor said the lack of detox facilities meant many Coast addicts had to travel to Brisbane for treatment.



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