The use of crystal meth and GHB in the gay and lesbian community will be targeted in the state government’s new club drug campaign, to be launched on the eve of next week’s Sleaze Ball.
The NSW Health department worked with ACON on the gay and lesbian section of the campaign, which included posters and advertisements warning partygoers about the dangers of crystal and GHB.
It’s a government campaign but we’ve been working closely with them, giving advice about how to target and better frame the material for the gay and lesbian community, ACON’s chief executive Stevie Clayton said.
The material will appear from next week at venues around Sydney, dance parties and in the gay and lesbian press.
The material on crystal, or ice, included the slogan, More toxic, more addictive, more is never enough, and, More than half of regular ice users become addicted.
Clayton said it would target people who had never used the drug before or had used it only a little, to try and get them to think again.
The GHB material encouraged friends to seek assistance if someone got into trouble. You’ll be of most use if you get help immediately, it said. Event staff and ambos are trained to help, not dob.
Clayton said one of the most exciting things about the campaign was that it included information on crystal aimed at lesbians.
This will be the first time anywhere we know of that there’s been a campaign around crystal use targeting lesbians, she said.
Material on ecstasy would not be included as the community already knew enough about it, Clayton said.
The campaign was part of a $700,000 state-wide initiative aimed at young adults who took drugs at clubs, pubs and festivals. It was the first government campaign specifically targeting club drugs.
We want to get the message out that there is no such thing as safe use of these drugs -“ they are unpredictable, NSW Health minister, John Hatzistergos, said.
Most people who use these drugs were well-educated, employed or studying full-time and had had no contact with the justice system, he said.
That’s why we need practical and carefully targeted messages that have credibility with young adults so they don’t tune out.
Paul Dillon, of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of NSW, said the aim was to provide accurate information without sensationalism or distortion.
The campaign was timed to coincide with the start of the party season, which included Sleaze Ball next week, and would run until March next year, including the Mardi Gras season.
Use of crystal and GHB is increasing within Sydney’s gay and lesbian party scene, as well as in the wider community, and both drugs are considered highly dangerous.
There have been many GHB overdoses and a number of deaths. On Mardi Gras night this year a dozen people were admitted to St Vincent’s Hospital with GHB-related illnesses. According to ACON, a survey of GHB users found over half had overdosed on it. The drug is also known to decrease some users’ inhibitions, leading to unsafe sex.
Crystal is considered highly addictive and is known to increase sexual stamina and can also cause some users to lose inhibitions, leading to unsafe sex. Some users experience psychosis.
A forum on the impact crystal is having on the community will be held by ACON this Thursday 21 September after the screening of the queerDOC documentary Meth. It will be at 7:30pm at the Chauvel Cinema.
In other news, the NSW ombudsman last week questioned whether NSW Police should continue using drug detection dogs after a two-year review found them to be ineffective.
Our review found that almost three-quarters of people who were indicated by drug detection dogs and searched were not found to be carrying drugs, ombudsman Bruce Barbour said.
Most of the people found with drugs were carrying very small amounts of cannabis for personal use. Only 19 people from more than 10,000 searched were successfully prosecuted for drug supply, and only three of them received custodial sentences.