Bendigo public gathers to learn about destructive effects of ice on the brain

Curious university students, parents and other members of the public packed out The Exchange in Bendigo on Wednesday night to learn about the drug ice and what makes it so addictive. 

The event was part of a "Psychology in the pub" series organised by the Bendigo branch of the Australian Psychological Society and La Trobe University student group Get Psyched!

While attendees sipped on a beer or finished their dinner, La Trobe University neuroscientist Dr Stephen Kent gave an in-depth lecture about the chemical effects of ice on the brain and the scientific reasons for addiction. 

Originally from the United States, Dr Kent said he was glad to educate the public about methamphetamine because the dangers were not publicised enough in Australia.

He said there were billboards in the US warning people of how their lives could change if they took ice. 

He said, in Australia there needed to be stronger, harder hitting advertising about the negative effects of ice.  

Although ice use is being seen as an epidemic across Australia, said Dr Kent, it actually didn't just "pop up overnight". 

He said he could remember it being around when he was growing up. 

Dr Kent said ice was a substance that was "insidious" in nature.

"It slowly creeps in and all of a sudden takes over," he said. 

During his lecture, Dr Kent explained that the release of certain chemicals to the brain was enhanced when a person was on ice. 

These chemicals increase arousal and confidence and reduce fatigue, sometimes enabling users to delay sleep for days. 

He said these effects were outweighed by negative effects including loss of brain cells, loss of memory and psychotic behaviour.

Australian Psychological Society Bendigo Branch president Peter Trask said Psychology in the pub events were about educating people about the psychological profession. 

He said there were common perceptions that psychology was a "mysterious science" done "behind closed doors".

Mr Trask said Wednesday evening's event was a good opportunity for the community to engage on a serious issue.