Drug users stretch system

ICE users are putting extra strain on Bendigo’s already stretched mental health resources.

Bendigo Health staff say methamphetamine and other drug-users are taking up beds that are already in high demand.

Psychiatric services acting executive director Vic Tripp has his fingers crossed a recently-launched new drug and alcohol rehabilitation service will help relieve some of the pressure.

Connect Church, in partnership with Transformation Ministries International, has brought a residential rehabilitation program to Bendigo. The service has nine beds and is only available to men, but there are plans to expand the program to women within the next year.

The Transformations program has been running in south-east Queensland for more than 13 years and is designed to help people with addictions and dysfunctional lifestyles to get a second chance at life. “I think the addition of this new program will help,” Mr Tripp said. “It’s got to have a positive effect.

“But the thing that’s got to happen before people go into those beds is that they’ve got to want to go.

“What we see here in our services at Bendigo Health are the people who don’t want to. And that can be a real problem.”

Mr Tripp spoke out about methamphetamine, the drug commonly known as ice, last week as part of the Break the Ice campaign.

He said the hospital had recorded at least five serious assaults on staff in the past few months, with ice users becoming violent and lashing out in their drug-affected states.

Mr Tripp said unfortunately many of the ice-users Bendigo Health came across were repeat offenders and people not willing to give up the drug.

“You can’t detain and treat people against their will,” he said.

“The only way you can get forced treatment for someone is you have to go before a magistrate. It’s very complex and not timely.”

If you need help, call Family Drug Help 1300 660 068; Family Drug Support 1300 368 186; Directline (Alcohol and Drug referrals and telephone counselling) 1800 888 236; Lifeline 13 11 14.

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