ICE addiction is tearing Casey families apart three times faster than it was two years ago.
And no one is immune, as the fallout affects all age and demographic sectors of the community.
Housing support group WAYYS manager of outer south homelessness services, Kim Culpin said crystal methamphetamine was behind increased domestic abuse and mental health problems on an unprecedented scale.
“At one end it is causing homelessness of youth when their loud, aggressive behaviour forces them out of home, and at the other it’s resulting in grandparents having to raise grandchildren because the intermediate generation is incapable of doing so,” Ms Culpin said.
“It’s a major problem in Cranbourne and Pakenham particularly. It’s leading to sleep deprivation and mental illnesses. It’s become the clear drug of choice and its use is growing rapidly.”
Assistant secretary of the Ambulance Employees of Australia union, Danny Hill said Casey was a high-risk area for ice, particularly in Cranbourne and Doveton.
“It’s a serious problem for our crews, who often get called to suspected cardiac cases only to find the patient has taken ice and is incoherent and aggressive,” he said.
Turning Point clinical director Dr Matthew Frei said there was ample evidence use of ice was increasing in Casey and the southeast.
“Other areas have other drug problems, but in Casey it’s ice,” Dr Frei said.
A Turning Point study showed the number of ambulance call-outs for ice patients in Casey jumped nearly 200 per cent in the last 12 months, catapulting the city from eighth to the second highest need area in Victoria in that time.
Cranbourne Information and Support Services president Kevin Bradford said increased use of ice led more people on marginal incomes to spend the little they had on drugs, not rent or food.
But Southern Health spokesman Shane Butler said a study conducted by the Burnet Institute suggested the number of people using ice had not increased as much as the purity, which had jumped from 21 to 64 per cent in the past four years.
*The ice scourge:
■ Ice is a stimulant that speeds up the messages travelling between the brain and the body. It is a type of methamphetamine, which is stronger, more addictive and has more harmful side effects than the powder form known as speed
■ 7 per cent of Australians aged 14 years and over have used methamphetamines
■ The daily number of all amphetamine-related ambulance attendances in 2012/13 increased 88 per cent in metropolitan Melbourne
■ Other names for ice include crystal meth, shabu, crystal, glass, shard, p2
■ Ice can be smoked, injected, swallowed or snorted
■ Long-term effects include extreme weight loss, dental problems, anxiety, paranoia and violence, depression, heart and kidney problems, increased risk of stroke
■ Ice psychosis is characterised by paranoid delusions, hallucinations and bizarre, aggressive or violent behaviour.
Source: Australian Drug Foundation
This article first appeared on ‘Herald Sun’ on 23 October 2014.