Bendigo forum hears of easy ice access

THE increased availability of methamphetamine is pushing prices down and making ice one of the cheapest drugs on the market.

At a Bendigo Health forum yesterday, it was suggested the drug ice was now cheaper to buy than alcohol.

Forum facilitator Nicola Cowling from Anex said ice was traditionally sold in “points”, with 0.1 grams worth about $50.

But she said prices varied depending on location and she was surprised to learn from a member of the audience that, anecdotally, ice was now cheaper in Bendigo than cannabis.

“It makes it very difficult to work with people about changing their drug habits when this is a very cheap, very accessible drug,” Ms Cowling said.

“If it’s cheaper than cannabis, it’s cheaper than alcohol. And it’s very long lasting.”

The Anex Crystal Methampetamine Training session covered everything from the types, forms and manufacture of amphetamines to engaging safely and effectively with individuals under the influence of the drug.

Anex is the peak body for the Needle and Syringe Program and advocates for reducing harm to the individual, family and the community stemming from many types of drug use.

During yesterday’s session, Ms Cowling spoke about the physical, psychological and social implications of methamphetamine use, the impact of poly drug use, intoxication and overdose, short and long-term psychological and physical harms, amphetamine-induced psychosis, withdrawal and strategies to reduce associated harm of use.

Ms Cowling said dealing with ice was complex.

She acknowledged that the internet was also making it easier for people to not only make the drug but also to connect with dealers.

“Some of the police officers I’ve spoken to have suggested it’s perhaps harder than ever now to police because we’re seeing a lot more small-scale production,” she said.

“Has anyone ever got online out of curiosity to look at how you make methamphetamines? I’ve done it. There are so many recipes online.” Ms Cowling said people both young and old were using methamphetamines.

“We’re seeing a much broader spectrum of people being influenced by the drug.

“I spoke to staff from some of the residential detoxes in Melbourne and they were saying: ‘We’re seeing people in their 40s, they’ve got a good job, they’re got a good home, they’ve got good relationships and they’re trying to keep up either socially or professionally and it starts out OK, maybe they’re only using methamphetamine on a weekend, but then it escalates’.”

The Bendigo Advertiser recently teamed up with Bendigo Health and Victoria Police for the Break the Ice Campaign and aims to 

provide an open and honest discussion about the effects the drug is having on our community.

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