New study in Bendigo looks at methamphetamine use

GAINING KNOWLEDGE: Monash University senior research fellow Dr Bernadette Ward says a new study being partly conducted in Bendigo will improve services for methamphetamine users.

GAINING KNOWLEDGE: Monash University senior research fellow Dr Bernadette Ward says a new study being partly conducted in Bendigo will improve services for methamphetamine users.

WHILE methamphetamine use has become a much-discussed issue in communities across the state, relatively little is known about how services can best help users to minimise harm.

That is what Monash University and the Burnet Institute hope to change with a study looking at the use of speed and ice in metropolitan and regional areas.

Monash University senior research fellow Dr Bernadette Ward said there was plenty of media coverage of methamphetamine use and community concern was rising, but there was minimal understanding of the nature of this use and how the risk of related harm could be most effectively reduced.

“We don’t know those things right now,” Dr Ward said.

Researchers want to interview 800 methamphetamine users in Melbourne and the Bendigo, Shepparton and Latrobe areas to gain an insight into their experiences.

In these face-to-face interviews, participants will be asked a range of questions on their drug use, use of treatment and support services, health and wellbeing, and experiences of drug-related harm.

Researchers hope to determine the nature and extent of methamphetamine use in the four areas, and identify the natural course of drug use and the factors that influence any changes.

They also aim to identify cost-effective approaches to delivering treatment services to users.

Dr Ward said it was hoped the findings would inform policy-making, to provide a service system that responded to the needs of users.

She said methamphetamine use was challenging for healthcare providers because of some of the behaviours associated with it, so the research would also help identify ways to support these bodies in their provision of services.

Dr Ward said there had been little research on methamphetamine use because it was an emerging drug and historically the emphasis had been on other substances, such as heroin.

But rural and regional areas had been “highlighted as problematic” when it came to the prevalence of speed and ice use, she said, and the population of users was diverse.

Participation in the study is confidential and those who take part will be compensated.

Anyone in central Victoria who would like to take part or wants further information can contact Maddy by calling 0490 486 217 or emailing meth@burnet.edu.au.

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