Last year ACON came in for some major criticism from some sections of the community for not reacting quickly enough to the crystal problem. Some people were concerned that agencies were not listening to the community on this issue. People were seeing their friends and/or partners appearing to have great problems with the drug. These included physical and psychological problems, as well as many social consequences, particularly related to relationships and finances.

As a result of this concern, ACON hosted a community forum in November 2004. The evening was a great success and as a result they have decided to hold a series of forums this year, each one targeting a different group. These groups include current users, women, leather men, friends and family and service providers. One of the great problems with forums is that there can be such a range of stakeholders attending the event that some issues, particularly important to the individual, may not appear to be adequately covered. As a result, these participants may leave the forum feeling dissatisfied and unsupported. For example, those who live with problematic crystal users may have very different concerns and needs to those who are treating the problem. The new series of forums will hopefully address this issue.

The forums will run from next week through to June. The first, being held on Wednesday 30 March between 6pm and 7:30pm at ACON, 9 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills, will be targeting current users. Topics to be covered include what the drug is and how it works, issues around psychosis and tips on how to stop or reduce your use. There are some great people speaking and the quality of the information provided should be outstanding.

Arguably the most important forum will be the one designed for family and friends of users. Having a person in your life who is psychotic can be extremely distressing. Recognising the problem can be difficult, and in the early stages can be mistaken for the normal ups and downs that many of us experience. When you realise what is actually happening it can be confronting. Unfortunately for some people it can simply be too difficult and instead of trying to assist the person they pull away. This can be particularly true for speed psychosis. This forum will hopefully give those who attend some valuable information about the drug and how to deal with some of the issues around problematic crystal use.

Many people are concerned about people they know and love and problems they’re seeing related to their crystal use. If you believe you have something to contribute or you just want to come along and listen to what others have to say, you can register to attend by calling ACON on 9206 2052. Keep looking in the press for advertisements giving details of where and when these forums will be taking place and remember you can always call ACON for further information.

Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug and, no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blas?

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