Seek help for Ice use sooner rather than later

REGION - Counsellors and health professions in the Ararat and Stawell regions are urging anyone that may be using the drug methamphetamine or Ice to seek help.

Coordinator of the Wimmera Drug Action Taskforce Brendan Scale told a large crowd at last week's community education forum in Ararat that the sooner help is sought the better.

"The bottom line for me is that there is hope and there is help out there and it is available through Grampians Community Health," he said.

"Pretty much any health service has a confidentiality agreement that we set up with the client.

"You can come to us and tell us you're a dealer, but that doesn't change how we treat you.

"If you are in need of improvement in your health and you want to change your habits come to Grampians Community Health in High Street, Ararat or Stawell Health and Community Centre and you are going to get help whether you're the 'king pin' in town or you're just a user - everyone will get help."

Mr Scale said the only time confidentiality would be breached was if the safety of someone was put at risk or by a court imposed subpoena.

Drug and Alcohol counsellor Russell Reid, who works closely with users through Grampians Community Health, echoed Mr Scale's sentiments describing the affects Ice has on the body as like going into 'survivor mode'.

"What Ice does to a certain extent is it keeps them awake, they are going all the time, their body doesn't get the normal eight hours sleep that it should get every night," he said.

"So when they decide to withdraw they can be very lethargic for a couple of months before anything can happen.

"The first thing you do is virtually come to us, because rehab centres are very few and far between. We have a detox centre at Bendigo, one for children under-21 at Ballarat, the next one is in Geelong and some in Melbourne."

Mr Reid said users are able to 'withdraw for a few days but the cravings will come back' and it was important to have a strong support network around you.

Victoria Police are also looking to make a shift from enforcement to a more prevention focused mode on the 'horror drug' that is sweeping the country.

Senior Sergeant Damian Ferrari, Station Commander Ararat Police Station said when officers are called to assist with an Ice related incident the first concern is the health and safety of the user and those around them.

"I think it is really important that the community understands that it is a health issue," Sen Sgt Ferrari said.

"Do we want to catch the dealers? Absolutely, but our first and foremost concern is about the health and safety of the people using it and their family, friends and the community."

Also speaking at the forum was Ambulance Victoria clinical support manager Julian Cofield, who gave advice on what treatment and action that should be taken if a family member or friend approaches you under the influence of Ice.

"It would just depend on how and what state they were presenting," Mr Cofield said.

"But paramedics are trained in de-escalation techniques, so if you have got someone that you are taking care of that is high on Ice and are erratic in their behaviour you can certainly give us a call.

"We are there to help, it is a health issue, but we are also there to help calm the situation. We have got the ability to treat a patient with what we call an agitated protocol, so we can actually give them a mild sedative to be able to help settle them down."

For further information on the support networks available locally the Grampians Community Health Centre in Ararat can be contacted confidentially on 5352 6200.

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