The youth of Australia on thin ice

Gillian Lantouris

Substance abuse in people aged 15 to 24 has more than doubled over the last five years, particularly, the use of methamphetamine.

Kathryn Daley, the author of Youth and Substance Abuse, has researched the sociology behind youth substance abuse and said that although cannabis and alcohol are the main drugs people seek treatment for, meth has become a greater issue in Victoria.

“Recently we have seen more people presenting to treatment for methamphetamine and part of that is because it’s a reasonably new drug in Australia in terms of the last 10 to 20 years.

“The last state wide censes of young people in treatment found about 25% were identifying methamphetamine as their drug of concern,” said Ms Daley.

The form of Methamphetamine used in 2013
The type of methamphetamine used most commonly in 2013 according to AIHW study. CLICK HERE to visit page.

Having researched the pathways into drug addiction, Ms Daley said that often substance abuse is the result of an individual experiencing succession of traumas starting from early childhood.

“You never meet someone with a long sustaining drug problem that had one hit of heroin and their whole world came undone, it never happens like that.

“When you trace back an addict’s life history there is always this horrific story and a million terrible things happen.

“They have had blow after blow and the addiction is a result of accumulated trauma that they never had any support with,” Ms Daley said.

A study on the ABC website conducted by Dr Sarah Larney, revealed that based on the number of those seeking treatment in Australia, the use of methamphetamine had more than doubled.

In those between the ages of 15 to 24, the use of meth has increased from 21,000 regular and dependent users to 59,000 over the period between 2011 and 2016.

This alarming number has resulted in the State Government creating an Ice Action Plan which includes $81.1 million to fund 90 new rehabilitation beds in the areas of Gippsland, north-east Victoria and Geelong by the end of next year.

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 10.14.05 pm
Victorian State Government has announced $81.1 million will be used to fun the Ice Action Plan. Photo source: Ice Action Plan booklet; Download your copy HERE

Although Premier Daniel Andrews is aiding those already affected by meth, Kathryn Daley believes that early intervention, starting at childhood, is the key to ending the malicious epidemic.

Ms Daley said, “often these kid who go on to form an addiction have moved around to 5 or 6 primary schools because they are in State care or they’ve been evicted, there’s an instability and that’s the point where we could be putting investment in to support the family.

“ If we can get a family functioning well and keep them together, that’s a good place, it’s not going to work for everyone but it’s going to be better than waiting and seeing them in court.”

Here is a part of the interview with Kathryn Daley in which we speak about “ice hotspots”.                Photo source: NSW Police.

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