In May 2015 the Australian federal government started a TV advertising campaign to educate the public on the dangers of methamphetamine also known as “ice.” This $9 million advertising campaign depicts the violence that ignites when a family uses ice. The Australian government also put $20 million aside to use for ice awareness for the next two years. Along with this strategy, the Commonwealth Government has established the National Ice Taskforce, which will work with government agencies, communities and expert groups to analyze and address existing efforts to improve public awareness, health and law enforcement policies to combat the rising use of ice in Australia.
Australia’s media and politicians agree that the country is facing an ice epidemic. The term “ice” refers specifically to one form of methamphetamine powder that is crystallized and more potent than the other forms. This particular form of meth has been used prevalently throughout the country and is gaining popularity. Australia has one of the highest meth use rates in the world — the highest among English speaking countries. Approximately two percent of Australians over 14 years of age has used methamphetamines, according to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS). This rate is about three to five times higher than that of Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. The Odyssey House, one of Australia’s largest drug addiction treatment services, reports that 40 percent of the drug users entering their program claimed that methamphetamines were their main drug of choice, which has increased from 33 percent in 2013.
Powder methamphetamine use had decreased between 2010 and 2013, but the reported use of ice (crystallized methamphetamine) has more than doubled. Of the population that uses methamphetamines, approximately half of them use ice.
Another alarming factor in this epidemic is the recent rise in the purity of the drug. Between 2009 and 2013, the average purity of meth powders and crystallized methamphetamines that have been found in seizures in Victoria increased from 12 percent to 37 percent and 21 percent to 64 percent, respectively. The price of crystal meth in the country is also the highest in the world, which has contributed to a surge in organized crime units increasing their trade of the drug. Australian police have reported raiding almost 750 meth labs in 2014 and expect there to be more for 2015. These labs have also been blamed for contaminating the environment because, reportedly, cooks have been dumping the highly toxic byproducts of meth production in water systems and national parks. For every two pounds of meth that is produced, there is about 20 pounds of toxic waste that is left.
The new ad campaign exaggeratingly portrays the menacing and psychotic side effects of crystal meth use and the increase in purity found in ice specifically has attributed to the appearance of these harmful side effects of ingesting meth among its users. Some common side effects include:
Severe mood swings
Dramatic weight loss
Severe insomnia (not sleeping for multiple days at a time)
Audio and visual hallucinations
Last year, $150 million worth of meth was intercepted while being shipped from China into Australia. China is the leading supplier of meth-producing chemicals in the world and the entire South-East Asia region has become entrenched in the war on meth. By informing the public of the gravity of the crystal meth epidemic and the dangers it brings to the lives of its users, the country will continue to fight the war on ice.
Methamphetamine addiction is a global problem not only in Australia, but in the United States well. Sovereign Health Group is among the leading treatment providers in the country. We offer various inpatient and outpatient treatment programs for patients who are struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, mental health disorders and a combination of the two known as dual diagnosis. If you know someone who is struggling with drug addiction and is in need of treatment, please contact us through online chat or over the phone. One of our treatment specialists will assist you in finding the right treatment option for you.
Written by Benjamin Creekmore, Sovereign Health Group writer