Everywhere we look there appears to be growing concern about an ice epidemic sweeping across our nation.
A few months ago headlines turned to the arrest of Harriet Wran, daughter of former NSW Premier, whose life was overtaken by ice since the passing of her father. This year, the Australian Crime Commission confirmed that seizures were at an all time high. The Illicit Drug Reporting System warns that ice-related inpatient hospital admissions are on the rise nationally. St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney reports a five-fold increase in young people presenting for treatment.
A recent Four Corners investigation revealed that bikie gangs were preying on country towns where police presence is scarce and kids are bored. And just a few weeks ago our Health Minister asked stakeholders for evidence in order to plan a response to this epidemic.
Each day at the Foundation, we hear devastating stories about the damage ice is having on our community. The number of young people presenting to Triple Care Farm with addiction to ice has trebled in the last three years.
"In 2014, ice was the primary drug of concern for young people entering the program. Of the 96 people that accessed the program this year, 55 young people have tried ice on at least one occasion and 36 identified it as being their main substance of concern" affirms Gabriella Holmes, Program Manager at Triple Care Farm.
While methamphetamine use in the general population has remained stable since 1993 at 2.1% of the population, the preferred form of methamphetamine has changed. Ice (the crystallized form of the drug) is the purest, most potent and most addictive; it is rapidly replacing powder (also known as speed) and base (also known as paste).
When asked how easy it was to obtain ice, the young people at Triple Care Farm admitted that "it was heaps easy to get" and it usually involved one phone call. They also mentioned that it was common to be "shouted" ice through drug dealers and friends.
Sadly, this increase in purity, availability and affordability, is making ice a popular drug of choice amongst young people.
There is growing evidence to suggest a close link between methamphetamine use and mental health issues, as well as an increased risk of mortality due to suicide and overdose.
"Ice is especially alarming because those that use it are 80% more likely to attempt suicide than those using other substances. It's also much more likely to cause psychosis in young people," said Gabriella Holmes, Triple Care Farm Program Manager.
These alarming facts confirm that more must be done to combat this horrendous epidemic. Yet there is hope for young people to escape the inevitable outcome that accompanies ice addiction. Earlier this year we reported that 77% of Triple Care Farm graduates were on track with their substance use goals six months after leaving the program, despite a third of them having previously been addicted to ice.
This is the hope that you provide.
The holistic and individualised care that young people receive at Triple Care Farm addresses the underlying reason for their drug use. Over the three-month program, young people learn strategies to cope with their urges and learn how to deal with challenges and have fun without drugs. Focus is placed on activities that build self-esteem, resilience and personal growth. The close relationships that are formed at the Farm, helps keep the students on track because, as one student pointed out, "we're all in it together and we help each other through hard times".
Please donate today to help young people who have taken the brave first step to turn their lives around, before it's too late.
To read more about ice use, its effect, and treatment options, click here.