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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Not raising ice alarm

Anex drug and alcohol worker Chris O’Mahony does not want to frighten the Shepparton community when he addresses a forum on the drug ice next month.

DARREN LINTON January 25, 2014 5:27am

An ice forum will be in Shepparton next month.


 

Mr O’Mahony said he would be frank about the destruction the drug caused, but would also preach a message of hope that communities such as Shepparton were best placed to combat the rise of the drug.

‘‘The idea of these forums is to give people some accurate information about what is going on, we know there’s a lot of it around,’’ he said.

‘‘There are certainly people who run into problems with this drug very quickly and it is destroying some people across the country.

‘‘It is a very quick downward spiral, it is a slippery slope and it is very slippery.’’

However, the experienced drug worker said he was also aware of people who used ice once a week or once a month.

Like any drug, he said the impact could be more acute for some and less for others.

Mr O’Mahony said there was no doubt the drug had serious consequences for frequent users, but he warned demonising addicts as monsters might deter them from seeking help.

Anex is an independent, not-for-profit health organisation dedicated to reducing the harms associated with drug use, including, injecting drug use, alcohol misuse, and pharmaceutical substance misuse.

The Goulburn Valley and Lower Hume Child FIRST Alliance has organised the Shepparton Ice Forum.

The alliance includes Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative, FamilyCare, The Bridge Youth Services and Victoria Police as a response to community concern.

Mr O’Mahony said forums in other regional cities attracted a range of people, including parents of ice addicts, but primarily people who were frightened by what they had seen or read and wanted more information.

 

‘‘We are trying to push the message that this is a community problem,’’ he said.

‘‘It is individuals, it is families, especially in towns like Shepparton the community is close-knit and needs to work together.’’

While there was a focus on the spread of the ice and its impact on users, their families and the community, Mr O’Mahony said a difference could be made much earlier by dealing with the issues that caused people to resort to drug use.

‘‘It is not just people trying to get high, it is for all sorts of reasons, it is not just a party drug,’’ he said.

‘‘The stronger a community is the less chance that someone who is part of that community will end up using.

‘‘It is not no hope, there is stuff we can do about this.’’

 

The Shepparton forum is on February 18 at Shepparton Senior Citizens Centre from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.

 

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