Ice questions answered after community concern shown

At the recent community forum held on the topic of Ice at the Ararat Performing Arts Centre, almost 60 questions were put to panel members with insufficient time to answer all of them.

Following that night the Central Grampians Drug Action Task Force (CGDAT) has been formed and its first priority was to address the real concerns the community has about the prevalence of the drug Ice and respond to their questions through a series of interviews with local experts.

This week Veronica Pascall, Better Life Dual Diagnosis Case Manager at Grampians Community Health provides advice to those who are concerned about someone who is using Ice.

Ms Pascall has worked for 10 years in the Northern Grampians, Ararat and Pyrenees regions in a number of roles and with clients affected by amphetamine use since its first appearance in our community.

Ms Pascall encourages the wider community to be educated about the effects of Ice and the difficulty of withdrawal.

"A lot of people who use will at some point recognise that they have a problem. Until then family and friends should make it clear that they do not support the habit, but they do support the affected person emotionally," Ms Pascall said.

"It can be difficult, but it can also be the trigger for that person to recognise that they need to make changes."

Ms Pascall said as a community we can support those recovering from drug use by acknowledging their attempt to change and enabling them to reintegrate back into social groups and the community as a whole.

There are particular risks associated with Ice use which vary in intensity depending on how much and how often it is used.

"These range from a mild depressed state or feeling of low energy when withdrawing after low frequency use to the more extreme effects of psychosis which may make a person believe that their skin is crawling with bugs and (the person) will actually scratch and gouge their skin and end up with extensive scarring," Ms Pascall said.

"People should understand that whatever high is reached during Ice use there is an equally crushing low during withdrawal, which would make further Ice use to avoid that low especially tempting - this is the cycle that leads to dependency."

Grampians Community Health has counsellors, withdrawal specialists and support workers who can provide information and support in a confidential environment for concerned family members and friends of people who are using Ice or other drugs as well as for those people using.

Counsellors and support workers in Ice and other drugs will be available for consultation and general information with all community members at the Ararat Grampians Community Health office (60 High Street) on Thursday, July 24 from 9am until 6.30pm.

Outside of business hours there is a direct line on 1800 888 236 which is a support line with experienced alcohol and other drug counsellors or a new 24 hour online chat service at www.counsellingonline.org.au.

The CGDAT aims to prevent problem drug use in our communities through education and information.

Anyone interested in joining the CGDAT or simply going on the email list to receive relevant information should contact Lauren or Ben at cgdat@grampianscommunityhealth.org.au.

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