The crystal meth debate has again turned confrontational, with activists accusing ACON of an inadequate crystal strategy and the health organisation insisting its response meets community needs.
Activists ratcheted up the argument this week by using the Star‘s website bulletin board to strongly criticise ACON’s approach to crystal meth.
With recent National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre figures showing crystal meth use and related psychosis are on the rise, the activists urged ACON to investigate new education options.
Shayne Chester, a former crystal meth addict and author of several of the bulletin board comments, said ACON should consider a campaign that graphically depicted the drug’s effects, similar to those seen in the United States.
I think people in this community at least deserve education and to understand what crystal will do to them, Chester told the Star.
ACON president Adrian Lovney strongly rejected the claims, saying a graphic crystal campaign would alienate users.
I accept that there are some criticisms. Whether those criticisms have come from a broad range of people or just one or two people, I’m not sure, Lovney told the Star.
He said ACON had a wide-ranging response to crystal meth, including circulating an information booklet, running community forums and counselling.
We have done some work but we absolutely want to do more, Lovney said.
We can’t make money appear from nowhere. There needs to be a funded response and we need to be able to get access to funding to do more.
In the last financial year, ACON spent about $90,000 on crystal meth-related education, including resource production and campaigns. It also spent about $150,000 on services such as counselling for people with specific drug- and alcohol-related issues, including crystal meth.
Lovney said he had offered to meet with some of the authors of the website bulletin postings, but none had taken up his invitation.
This week’s debate also focused on the distinction between harm minimisation and abstinence, with several activists preferring the latter.
Lovney said ACON supported both -“ and the two could work together.