Ice is the preferred drug of choice in Mackay.
Ice is the preferred drug of choice in Mackay.

Mackay is caught in the grip of a ice scourge

CHILLING statistics reveal Mackay is caught in the grip of a ice scourge with almost 50 per cent of drug users reliant on the dangerous substance at one of the city’s rehabilitation centre .

Treatment centre Lives Lived Well Mackay was treating people aged between 14 and 60 years for methylamphetamine addiction.

“Ice is really cheap, so it’s easy for people to get a hold of,” alcohol and drug counsellor, Carmen Screech said.

Data from Lives Lived Well’s annual report revealed the majority of its Central Queensland clients, 42.5 per cent, were presenting with a reliance on ice.

Alcohol reliance trailed behind at 27.3 per cent, marijuana at 24 per cent and only 6.2 per cent were reliant on other drugs, which included MDMA.

Ice is the purest form of the stimulant methamphetamine and comes as a powder or crystals, usually injected or snorted.

Ms Screech said ice users were the support service’s largest demographic in the region.

“We’re seeing people from as young as 14, to as old as 60 reliant on ice,” she said.

“And it is non-discriminatory — it affects the young and old, blue collar workers and professionals — it’s hitting every walk of life here in Mackay.”

Ms Screech said she believed ice had become the drug of choice in regional Queensland due to its accessibility and low street value.

“Also, we have a large demographic of people in Mackay working in the mining sector, where drug-testing is prevalent,” she said.

“Ice has a quick recovery time, it’s usually out of the system within 24 hours unlike drugs like cannabis or MDMA that can remain in your system for weeks.”

Detective Acting Inspector Mick Searle said the prevalence of ice had a ripple effect on crime in the region.

“A drug like ice drives more risky behaviour, it gives people the perception they are untouchable,” he said.

“The physiological effects of ice manifest themselves on people who are already committing crimes — they will commit more crimes in a more prolific way.

“But it’s also driven by the need to sustain a drug habit, which can be expensive to maintain and this contributes to an element of the region’s property crime. Because crimes involving stolen property are often committed and driven by the backdrop of drugs.”

Ms Screech and Det Acting Insp Searle wholeheartedly agreed a key factor to addressing the use of ice in Mackay was through prevention education.

“Having conversations with young people before they’ve taken drugs or as they’re contemplating trying drugs for the first time is crucial,” Ms Screech said.

“We present a program called DAFA, Drug and Alcohol First Aid, in high schools that educates young people on the effects of drugs and alcohol.

“It opens communication with that younger demographic and it’s given us invaluable insight into that demographic.”

Det Acting Insp Searle said it was important for parents to have an open line of communication with their teenage children.

“Being available to talk in an honest, open and supportive way can mean all the difference.”

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