Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Community gets behind Cohuna forum about ice

About 600 people filled Cohuna memorial hall on Wednesday night to learn more about the methamphetamine, ice.

RENEE THOMPSON May 16, 2014 3:50am

The crowd at the Cohuna memorial hall on Wednesday.

It was standing room only for the many who filed into Cohuna memorial hall just past 7pm on Wednesday.

There to attend a community forum about the drug ‘ice’, the queue to get into the hall stretched for some 200m down the side street before the forum got under way.

Once inside, about 600 people, including community leaders and government representatives, parents and their children, young people and sporting groups, helped fill the hall to the brim.

Crios O’Mahony, a drug and alcohol worker for the Penington Institute and former project leader at Anex, spoke at length about the insidious nature of crystal methamphetamine, or ice.

Attendees heard about the chemical, physical and psychological effects of methamphetamine abuse, including the much greater risk such drug users have of experiencing a psychotic episode or psychosis.

Mr O’Mahony said the impacts that ice users had on others, especially families, were taking a huge toll in many communities, including Cohuna’s.

‘‘Ice is devastating families, it really is,’’ he said.

‘‘Don’t plan for if things go wrong, plan for when things go wrong.’’

He said it was important families had a plan which could be simple like ‘‘what does things going wrong look like?’’ or ‘‘who are you going to call in the middle of the night’’?
‘‘A crisis never happens between 9am and 5am, it’s always 2am on a Saturday night,’’ he said.
He also tried to clear up certain misconceptions about ice users and urged people to look beyond the mugshots of ice users often found circulating in the media which depict users as all looking haggard.
‘‘Generally, if you look at an ice user, they don’t look like that,’’ he said.
Community members, who had been presented on arrival with a piece of paper on which to write down any questions they had, then had the opportunity to put any questions to a five-member panel.
Some sought answers to questions such as to what types of forms ice could take, what to do if the ice user doesn’t want help and even whether TV shows such as Breaking Bad were guilty of glorifying its use.
Senior Constable Andrew Neil, the Gannawarra Drug Tasking Unit officer who had helped put the forum together, said he was ‘‘speechless’’ at the turnout.
He said yesterday the night had exceeded his expectations.
"I’m very humbled to know, having driven this and promoted this event, that so many people supported it,’’ Sen. Constable Neil said.
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