Crystal methamphetamine is a hideous drug that destroys lives, but isn’t addictive and has far fewer users than other harmful drugs, a community forum was told last week.
It was also told official statistics have yet to recognise that users have trebled over the last two years, according to support workers on the front line.
The ice forum was organised by Sydney MP Tanya Plibersek to provide insight into the drug without the hysteria seen in media reports.
Family Drug Support founder Tony Trimingham said he’d seen regular people’s lives destroyed after taking the drug because they heard it enhances one’s sex life.
It’s not a junkie’s drug. People in clubs using ecstasy don’t usually go to heroin but they are going to ice. It’s efficient and it’s passed about in pipes like the old joint, he said.
It’s a drug that splits people. Half think it’s the worst drug that’s ever hit that gay community and the rest are saying it’s just another drug and we shouldn’t overreact.
A third of all calls to his support line were about methamphetamine, up from just eight percent in 1999.
People have said there is no evidence of a marked increase. Well, maybe you will when we see the 2006/2007 figures. We certainly have, he said.
However it wasn’t addictive, at least not compared to heroin or alcohol, Trimingham claimed, acknowledging it was still contentious.
Even people who use it problematically are still only using it certain times of the week. They’re not using it daily. We also know quite a number of people that are giving it up.
Many at the forum told of giving up, and said the drug was no longer as cheap as was often assumed.
Dr Gilbert Whitton from Justice Health and the Sydney South West Area Health Service told the forum methamphetamine was now more popular than heroin, but its users were less likely to seek treatment.
If someone goes beyond cannabis, they’ll probably go on to use stimulants like methamphetamines, Whitton said.
These drugs were nothing new he said, and were never used by more than 10 percent of the population, even among the early 20s when drug use is the most prevalent.
Regular users can suffer from psychosis and other difficult to treat conditions, Beaver Hudson from St Vincent’s Hospital said.
The Federal Government recently launched a series of anti-ice advertisements that claim the drug is highly addictive.
Colin Burrough from Community for Action Against Methamphetamine welcomed the campaign, saying people had the right to specific, explicit information about the dangers in order to make an informed choice.

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