With bizarre and terrifying headlines such as “Crazy behaviour of ice addicts: Woman chewed off toes, young boy gouged out eyes” and “The zombie apocalypse is here and none of us are safe” or “Chinese Methamphetamine: Australia faces a new wave of death boats on their way here”, you’d be thinking we’re living in an episode of The Walking Dead.
In the last few years, the drug ice has caught us out cold.
Australia is hit by an ice epidemic.
And many who use the drug are knocking at death’s door.
The number of deaths relating to methamphetamine use in Australia has doubled in seven years, a study from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre has found.
There were 1,649 deaths linked to the illicit drug between 2009 and 2015.
Australia uses more methamphetamine than almost any other country, and the number of Australians using the illegal drug has tripled over the past five years.
It only takes one hit to be hooked onto methamphetamine, in particular the crystallised form, commonly known as ‘ice’.
Drug treatment agency ReGen’s senior drug and alcohol counsellor, James McGregor said a short period of ice use could cause immense destruction.
“I’ve noticed more with ice than any other drug that it tends to really hit hard and people’s lives go all chaotic far faster than other substances,” he said.
“People are becoming involved in crime a lot faster with ice.”
It is becoming clearly evident that ice use and abuse is responsible for a growing number of horrific murders, such as the double murder of a grandmother and a young child in Sydney in 2015. The accused man was an ice addict and murdered his own mother and nephew in a drug-fuelled rage.
If you are still in any doubt about the perils of ice use and its deadly effects, you need only to look at the murders of two young women, Jazmin-Jean Ajbschitz who was merely 18 and Rekiah O’Donnell, who was 22 years old.
Ms Ajbschitz was beaten and kicked to death by her ice addict boyfriend, Sean King. He stomped on her so many times her heart eventually stopped.
King was under the spell of ice at the time of the violent murder.
Ms O’Donnell’s death also came at the hands of her ice addict partner.
Nelson Lai’s brain was fried through methamphetamine use when he fired a gun and shot his girlfriend Ms O’Donnell through the head.
He argued he had been coming down from an ice-induced high when he picked up the revolver, not knowing it was loaded, and pulled the trigger.
With the ice epidemic that is sweeping Australia and fuelling crime, it is only inevitable more criminals will come forth and cause more destruction and heartache.
The problem is so big that only new and radical strategies and approaches provide any hope of turning the tide against this lethal epidemic.
Rehabilitation is certainly a vital tool in the war on ice, but not in its current form of opting in and out whenever you want.
What we need is the Swedish model of compulsory rehabilitation.
If we can step in and impose mandatory rehabilitation options, then we may have a chance of preventing large numbers of people falling prey to this destructive drug.
Jennifer Bowles, a Magistrate in the Children’s Court of Victoria has urged the State Government to give the court powers to order compulsory rehabilitation for young people with drug addictions.
Ms Bowles has spent nine years sitting in the court and witnessing children and young people’s lives spiralling downwards as a result of their drug consumption.
She said the endless procession of young people through the court with serious drug problems has provoked her to make a proposal for compulsory treatment.
Ms Bowles believes that the current voluntary system is not working for many of the troubled young people and travelled to Sweden, Scotland, England and New Zealand on a Churchill Fellowship to investigate compulsory treatment facilities.
She returned convinced of the need for such facilities.
If harsher approaches are going to save the lives of those who are on ice and the people surrounding them, then it is an option that must seriously be considered and approved.
Because, we really do not want to witness any more deaths and heartaches because of this evil drug.
A report by the Australian Crime Commission illustrated the worsening methamphetamine problem.
“Of all illicit drugs…ice, is the most dangerous and the highest risk to our nation,” Australian Crime Commission’s chief executive Chris Dawson told the ABC.
He said they are seeing weekly and daily homicides, drug-impaired driving, addict-based crime and other crimes such as burglaries.
In Victoria alone, ice was linked to 14 homicides in just 14 months.
These incidents are a sign of what is to keep coming as the abuse of ice in Australian society grows.
Counsellor, Mr McGregor who has dealt with a wide range of clients with ice addictions, said the drug has become a problematic dependence substance that people are using most days of the week if not every day.
“We just see people who come in, who’ve been using ice for a short period of time and their substance use and resulting behaviours have led to numerous driving fines, especially speeding charges or driving unlicensed, lots of really reckless impulsive behaviour, they’re becoming quite violent and aggressive towards family members and getting involved in criminal activity,” said Mr McGregor.
“They’re also having to get involved in criminal activity to fund their substance use.”
A study by the Australian National University actually found a direct link between use of the drug ice and violence.
The study also revealed that heavy ice use alters the brain chemistry responsible for controlling emotions like aggression. And this dramatically increases the risk of violence.
Ice makes you aggressive, violent and unreasonable, and has been linked to numerous violent crimes throughout the nation.
Quite simply, ice makes you a danger to yourself and those around you.
So, it would only be reasonable to require compulsory treatment for people using ice in order to save their lives and others lives.
We need to provide secure residential facilities that are therapeutic, that are going to treat drug-dependent individual’s conditions and assure their safety and security at the same time.
Also, aftercare services should be provided to maintain the changes individuals have made in treatment and to reduce the rate of relapse.
Some have argued against mandatory rehabilitation, claiming that it should be up to individuals themselves to seek help and treatment. And that we shouldn’t be forcing anyone into something they don’t want.
However, using mind-altering drugs such as ice doesn’t make individuals think healthy and right.
Their brain is warped with a chemical that isn’t making the right type of choices.
Their ability to make rational decisions such as to voluntarily engage in treatment is impacted by their consumption of ice.
We are only adding fuel to the fire by allowing people intoxicated with ice to roam the streets freely.
People are dying from this evil drug while the city’s, state’s and nation’s leaders just keep talking.
There’s just a lot of talk but not any real help.
Meetings are held across the nation with purely good intentions but they basically tell us the things we already know- ice is devastating our people and communities.
The scare campaigns, the meetings, the talks, hiring more telephone operators have not stopped the supply and use of ice. And most likely won’t.
More must be done to bring the ice crisis under control.
If the horrific murder cases aren’t convincing enough for the need of compulsory rehabilitation, then maybe some hard to swallow, gruesome cases will.
While under the influence of ice, a young woman in Sydney chewed off her own toes.
Meanwhile, a man addicted to ice cut off his own finger and refused to allow medical staff to sew it back on.
These cases are like scenes out of a zombie movie and seem very difficult to believe. But, welcome to the reality of what ice has turned people into.
To have to see, hear and read these stories are confronting and distressing, I know. But it explains the severity of the problem.
What happens is these people lose their grip on reality.
Their ability to reason just gets destroyed.
Their use of ice strips them of any control they have over their actions.
Australia needs to change the way it tackles the ice epidemic.
Australia should adopt the ice model used in Sweden, which requires addicts to undergo rehabilitation.
Sweden’s drug policy has certainly proven effective and successful, as today Sweden has some of the lowest rates of drug use in the developed world.
Mandated treatment in a residential, therapeutic and secure facility could dramatically improve Australia’s war on ice.
The long-term costs are going to be a lot greater if we don’t do something now.
Individuals with ice addiction problems are either going to end up in psychiatric wards, prisons, or coffins if we don’t intervene now.
A clear message needs to be sent to all Australians, to never touch ice, never use it and help those who do use it, get off it by providing compulsory treatment.