Victorian-first sewer tests reveal alarming spread of deadly drug ice

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1 Victorian-first sewer tests reveal alarming spread of deadly drug ice SHELLEY HADFIELD HERALD SUN SEPTEMBER 03, :00AM Testing at a Melbourne sewage plant shows one hit of methamphetamine has been consumed for every 20 people on certain days. AN unprecedented analysis of waste water has revealed the extraordinary extent of the use of the drug ice in Victoria. Testing at one Melbourne sewage treatment plant on just one day showed that one hit of methamphetamine had been consumed for every 20 people. SCROLL DOWN FOR EX-ADDICT JACK NAGLE S HORROR STORY

2 Further damning details about the destructive grip of ice on the state are expected to be revealed in a report of a state parliamentary inquiry today. And the Herald Sun can reveal that: VICTORIA Police will get $4.5 million extra so all state highway patrol officers can test drivers for drugs, including ice. EXPERTS found the highest traces of methamphetamine in sewage in the area taking in Melbourne s west and CBD. THE Victorian Government will now roll out waste water drug testing statewide. A SEPARATE Penington Institute assessment of the impact of methamphetamine, including testing of sewage taken from five Victorian sites and data from more than 40 interviews, found that use of the drug is driving an increase in incidents of domestic violence. The Penington Institute report, Impacts of Methamphetamine in Victoria, contains harrowing accounts of the trail of destruction ice is reaping. A woman married to an ice user reported: My husband smashed up the house, tried to abduct children, threw knives at me, and threatened to kill me with a power saw. A social worker said: One father desperately trying to hold his son back from this world and these people... he nailed his windows shut, disables the car; so (the son) smashes windows and walks. Others talked of everyone from parents to tradesmen and sportspeople using ice. We re hearing it from, say, footy club players they say it s everywhere in footy in the social circles, a Grampians alcohol and drugs worker said. It s the transition from being a behind-closed-doors drug to being out in the open and socially acceptable... that happened over the last six months, I think... You can buy it openly at the pub. The Penington Institute-commissioned sewage analysis in Victoria was done late last year by the University of South Australia. Similar analysis has been done in Europe and is done regularly in Adelaide. Waste water from Melbourne Water s western treatment plant, covering a population of 1.6 million people, had the highest levels: 51.4 doses of methamphetamine per

3 1000 people on a Sunday, and 38.8 doses per 1000 on a Wednesday last year. The Sunday figure equates to about one hit per 20 people. Crime wave The report stresses that heavy and binge drug users could have several doses per day. One dose is equivalent to 30mg. The western treatment plant had an average of 72,000 doses per day over the two days. The eastern treatment plant had an average of 36,000 doses a day, West Wodonga 530, and Warracknabeal 14. Black Rock, which covers much of Geelong, had a daily average of 3800 doses. All the samples were taken on a Sunday and a Wednesday. Dumping of drugs in a toilet obviously can affect results. Penington Institute acting chief executive officer Wendy Dodd said the western treatment plant s results took in the CBD s nightclub district and areas such as Carlton, Parkville and Docklands. Unsurprisingly, use was higher on the weekends than during the week in all areas. Ms Dodd said: Our analysis indicates that while levels of use are higher in metropolitan areas, methamphetamine is certainly present in regional and rural areas. The average of methamphetamine doses per 1000 people at Black Rock, Warracknabeal and Wodonga were all lower than in Adelaide. The Penington Institute report concluded that the use, availability and purity of methamphetamine have all been increasing. The report includesinterviews with ice users, the family of an ice user, and staff from hospital emergency departments and from alcohol and drug, needle and syringe, housing, family violence, and youth services across the state. Interviewees raised concerns about ice s increased availability, a normalisation of ice use, of Aboriginal communities being particularly hard hit by the drug, and a - faster decline into addiction.

4 One person who everyone knows really well... He turned into a skeleton... it was like off a zombie movie, one said. The issue of family violence in relation to methamphetamine use emerged as a key theme, the report found. Of concern was the increase in both the intensity and the incidence of violence, with workers using terminology such as unprecedented and prolific levels of methamphetamine use involved in family violence. This is reported to have increased over the last two years. Family violence services noted that they were seeing much more severe injuries. This included women hit as they held babies in their arms, broken jaws, broken arms, serious assaults and knife threats. One service found that last November, 38 per cent of perpetrators were ice users; in December, it was 44 per cent. FORMER USER HELPING OTHERS BEAT THE CURSE ADDICT Jack Nagle thought the world was watching his drug-riddled life spiral out of control on television. It had all the makings of a Hollywood horror story - a promising future, a party lifestyle and a horrific fall from grace. The former basketball prodigy was paranoid, psychotic and stealing to fuel his ice habit. After using most drugs, including speed and cannabis, he started smoking and injecting ice at 19. In the grip of a year-long addiction, he spent up to $1000 a day on ice, the purest form of methamphetamine available in Australia. He woke up after a 10-day bender where he spent thousands of dollars on ice. It sounds cliched but my life flashed before my eyes, he said. I thought about what I used to be like, but very quickly I had turned into your average junkie. I was so hooked and with the things I had to do to get the drug, I started kicking all my moral boundaries out the window.

5 Mr Nagle, 23, spent 28 days at a live-in rehabilitation clinic, before a year in supported accommodation. Three years clean, he is now the centre manager at the DayHab Addiction Rehabilitation Centre in Glen Waverley. Mr Nagle said by helping others his sordid drug history meant something. My past is now my greatest asset because I can use it to help people, he said. Addiction is a little bit like throwing a pebble in a pond it didn t just affect me, it affected everyone around me. But there is help out there. People needing help with drug addiction can call DayHab on MONIQUE HORE

SHARC would like thank the committee for the opportunity to appear before you today and to contribute to this important Inquiry.

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