In only five years, the percentage of Salvos’ clients seeking help for ice abuse at one facility has soared from 16% to 57%
New data released by the Salvation Army today reveals a sharp increase in the number of people reporting crystal methamphetamine addiction and seeking help at its recovery service centres.
As well as the huge rise in people seeking help for ice addiction at the Salvos’ flagship drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre – William Booth House in Sydney – the organisation also reports a 40% increase in the total number of people seeking help for drug and alcohol use across its centres in NSW, Queensland and the ACT.
“More and more people are reporting ice as their primary drug of use,” says Operations Manager of the Salvation Army’s Drug and Alcohol Services, Gerard Byrne.
“Many of our clients also have significant mental and physical health problems as a result of ice use.
“We estimate that the number of clients now reporting a mental health condition is anywhere between 50-70%. Ice is a powerful drug that has devastating consequences.”
He says the Salvos are struggling to keep up with the demand for drug and alcohol rehabilitation services and that many clients are being forced to wait up to six weeks before they can access help.
Waiting lists are growing daily across all mainstream drug and alcohol services, he says.
He called on state and federal governments to invest further in providing treatment options.
“Ice is now readily available in towns and cities across Australia, which has caused an increase in usage. Its relatively cheap cost in comparison to other illicit substances has also fuelled demand,” Mr Byrne says.
“Governments need to place more resources into existing drug and alcohol services, which are bearing the burden of increased pressure on already stretched resources. This has created a situation that is tearing communities apart.”
This month in Victoria, a bill proposed by Sex Party leader Fiona Patten to run an 18-month trial of a medically supervised injecting room was knocked back by the state Government.
Stakeholders including the Pharmacy Guild of Australia Victorian branch had provided submissions supporting such a facility.