A Community Being Ripped Apart By Ice

Despair, hope and the fight for survival as methamphetamine ravages Indigenous NSW.

Source Buzzfeed 5 November, 2015

Elise, 25, is fidgeting in a hardback black plastic chair in a small clinical room at a detox unit in the picturesque regional Australian city of Orange, inland New South Wales. Occasionally touching her face, her eyes are darting around the room. Elise [not her real name] has been heavily addicted to methamphetamine for the past four years, using a gram a day of the drug known as ice up to five days a week, crashing on the weekends.

Speaking with BuzzFeed News, Elise’s emotions oscillate between sadness, regret, hope and anger. At just 25 she’s lost everything: job, car, house, friends and family. Her young son is currently being cared for by her parents.

Julaine Allan, the deputy executive officer of the Lyndon Community centre which is helping Elise get back on her feet, tells BuzzFeed News that the number of Aboriginal people across regional NSW seeking help for methamphetamine has steadily increased in recent years.

“There are more people using methamphetamine in the smaller, poorer communities. I think it’s probably a higher rate in the Aboriginal community than the non-Aboriginal community. About 2% of the [drug using] population, in general, are amphetamine users, it’s more like eight to 10% in Aboriginal communities.

“We could double our services if we had enough money to pay the staff to provide the services. And you know what? our counselors would still be busy and our beds would still be full.”

“We’re seeing a lot more Aboriginal people come to our treatment services; probably about 20% of our treatment services were Aboriginal eight years ago and now it’s 50%.”

Between January and July this year Lyndon Community treated 980 people for substance abuse issues, 60 percent of those came from western NSW.

“The problem is for people that want to go to rehab, or get in touch with an alcohol and drug service, is that they really have to try hard to find one that’s close or can take them,” Allan says.

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