Comments Off on More children going to rehab for Methamphetamine ice addictions in Victoria

The number of children going to rehab and seeking other treatments for their ice addictions is increasing and has trebled in the last 18 months at Victoria’s largest youth drug and alcohol network.

Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS) research director Andrew Bruun said that ice was a growing problem among “at-risk” or vulnerable children because it was becoming more available. The “episodes of care” for children using crystal methamphetamine or ice as their main drug had grown from 11 to 33 per cent in the past 18 months.”1430632857784

The YSAS supports most of its clients in outreach services like counseling, with a smaller proportion in its detox and residential rehabilitation centers.

“In our services methamphetamine as the primary drug of concern has increased three-fold,” Mr Bruun said, with 5512 “episodes of care” given to 1152 people in that time.

Most children who used ice started when they were between 16 and 18, with very few starting younger than 15, he said.

“We need to be doing a lot of work to prevent kids in that 12 to 15 year-old age group from crossing over from the typical drugs they use – cannabis and alcohol – into methamphetamine,” Mr Bruun said.

Tandana Place manager Mel Thompson said their ice-addicted clients had grown steadily for the last five years, from 10 per cent in 2010/11 to 84 per cent in the last 12 months.

The centre, a four-bed residential rehabilitation house for some of the state’s most vulnerable children, is the only one in the state for children younger than 16.

The average age at which children at Tandana Place started using substances had stayed at 12 and a half for the past five years, while the average age of ice users had fallen from about 17 to 14, she said. One child started using ice as young as 12.

Ice users came to the house with burned holes in their teeth from ice pipes, short-term memory loss and painful stomach ulcers.

While most of their clients had been referred by Corrections Victoria or the Department of Human Services, Ms Thompson has also noticed ice addicts from supportive families being referred to rehab by their own parents in the past 18 months.

 “We’ve had a lot of young people through here (who are) educated, in private schools. They have parents who have good jobs and genuinely care, sitting at this table crying ‘Please help me. I don’t know what to do.'”

Ice was more accessible than other drugs because it was easier to make and source its ingredients: “If you’re growing cannabis you need an enormous space. Now people can set (ice) up in their laundry cupboard and make an absolute fortune.”

It was also easier to ingest than intravenous drugs like heroin. But ice addicts took longer to detoxify their bodies and to recover psychologically from their addictions, with most young people coming to the centre with significant mental health problems.

 “Once upon a time, people with incredible trauma, sexual abuse and awful episodes of violence would be using things to numb them, pain relief (drugs like) heroin,” Ms Thompson said. “When they’ve been using the only thing that has ever made them feel better, and we take it away, psychologically that’s incredibly difficult to deal with.”

Children’s Court Magistrate Jennifer Bowles last month called for child addicts to be required to live in therapeutic rehabilitation centers like Tandana Place, with the current system failing to help many get clean because they were voluntary facilities. Magistrate Bowles is discussing the proposal with a number of state cabinet members.

Ms Thompson supports the proposal, saying that children who achieved the biggest results from rehab had been forced into rehabilitation as a condition of their parole or bail.

The waiting list for the rehab house is now at its highest, with 50 young people now on it, including a boy in youth detention until a place becomes available for him.

Chief Executive Officer of Tandana Place’s parent group Waverley Emergency Adolescent Care, Maureen Buck, said illicit drug use had “normalized” among children. While in the 90s, some children may have experimented with drugs, “Kids nowadays are saying ‘I have a right to use if I want to.'”

Dr Nicole Lee, an associate professor at the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction at Flinders University, said there had not been an increase in the number of people reportedly using ice, though more people may be getting treated for it due to greater publicity and increased harm.

 “There’s also been an increase in arrests and emergency department and ambulance presentations with ice. So there’s a problem here with people using more ice, having more problems.”

The National Drugs Strategy Household Surveys of 24,000 people showed that the number of 14 to 19 year olds who had recently used methamphetamines remained roughly the same between 2010 and 2013.

The number of people aged 14 to 65 who used methamphetamines and preferred ice, had, however grown slightly from 0.25 per cent in 2010 to 0.5 per cent in 2013.

It was more dangerous for children to use ice than adults, with the drug having an impact on the brain’s frontal lobe, which was responsible for things like setting goals and thinking about future consequences.

Dr Lee said: “When they stop (using ice) we know adults recover those functions but we don’t know whether for kids if it has some impact on their developing brains.”

http://www.smh.com.au/national/more-children-going-to-rehab-for-ice-addictions-20150503-1mw34p.html

Comments are closed.