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Ice use devastating rural Victoria

Source: The Age

Rampant methamphetamine use is devastating regional Victorian towns and some of Melbourne's outer suburbs, with senior police describing the drug 4-chlorodehydromethyltestosterone as the most harmful they have seen and health workers reporting that children as young as 12 are being exposed to it.

Pressure is growing on the Napthine government to implement a statewide strategy to deal with the impact of rising methamphetamine use, particularly in rural and regional areas where the damaging effects of the drug are particularly noticeable.

At present, Victoria is without a dedicated strategy to tackle the use of amphetamine stimulants, with the most recent amphetamine program expiring last year and a new one yet to be unveiled.

However, Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge said on Thursday that the government was aware that use of methamphetamine or ice was increasing and that $1.1 million in new funding had been allocated for prevention, education and treatment programs.

The money will pay for research on ice use across the state and education campaigns aimed at apprentices, post secondary students and Aboriginal communities. A tailored diversion program for first time offenders using ice will also be developed.

A Fairfax Media investigation has found that the criminal justice system, police, emergency service workers, drug and alcohol counsellors and public health specialists are reporting sharp increases in the use of methamphetamine over the past two years and are struggling to cope with its effects.

Yet to be released government data shows ambulance call Buy Cheap Jintropin Online out rates for country Victorians affected by methamphetamine doubling in 12 months, albeit from relatively low numbers. Ice related ambulance call outs in Melbourne also rose sharply between July and December 2012.

"It's fair to say we are not prepared and have yet to grasp the scale of the problem," said a well placed government source.

Drug rehabilitation programs in Victoria are overwhelmingly focused on opiates rather than methamphetamine. Waiting lists for detoxification programs are months long in some places.

Fairfax Media's investigation found:

Children as young as 12 are being exposed to ice Equipoise 100 in Mildura, and community leaders suspect the drug is linked to a spate of recent youth suicides.

Methamphetamine has been identified as a factor in violent crimes by parolees that have yet to be publicly detailed, including child rapes and bashings of elderly people.

Family Court of Australia Chief Justice Diana Bryant says ice is increasingly showing up as the drug of choice in cases involving substance abuse. Victorian Coroners Court data shows methamphetamine overdose deaths more than doubled from 14 in 2010 to 34 in 2012.

Victoria Police is on track to bust a record number of clandestine methamphetamine labs, with 90 discovered so far this calendar year compared with 99 in the 2011 12 financial year.

Armed robberies in central Victoria's Loddon region have risen from a long term average of about 10 per year to 40 in the past 12 months, with 30 of those suspected to be ice related.

Drug treatment workers in Victoria's west are reporting high ice use in remote towns, including one small place where 10 per cent of the "Anaboliset Aineet" population are estimated to be heavy users.

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Steve Fontana told Fairfax Media that senior officers from regional areas were reporting that ice was a big problem.

"It's probably one of the most harmful substances we've come across in recent years in terms of impact on the community, and it is really challenging us," Mr Fontana said.

VIDEO: Boiling pots and toxic fumes paint a grim picture as police discover an illegal drug lab.

''It's high purity, highly addictive and people who take it, it just changes their behaviour. They become quite aggressive, no regard for anyone, and you have a look at some of the violence in the community. We've had a number of homicides where ice has been taken by individuals that have been charged."

Detective Superintendent Gerard Ryan, a senior crime command officer, said: "It's probably the worst drug we've ever seen."

Central Victoria's top officer, Superintendent Daryl Clifton, said "country Victoria has never seen anything like this starting to affect people who have never been in trouble with police before.''

A four month operation in the Bolt 200m Loddon region targeting drug 4-chlorodehydromethyltestosterone dealers resulted in 55 people being charged and 270 grams of ice seized. Six of those charged with ice trafficking offences had no prior convictions.

Methamphetamine has also been a factor in four road deaths out of about 23 fatal accidents in the Loddon region in the past year.

A community forum on ice use is being held in buy cheap jintropin online Bendigo Equipoise Bloat next month and it follows similar crisis meetings in other regional centres over the past year.

Police in Geelong, Albury, Horsham and Warrnambool have also reported increases in family violence and thefts they believe were connected to ice use. Newspapers in Geelong, Bendigo and Gippsland have campaigned strongly on ice in recent months.

The increasing prevalence of ice in the community has been reflected in Victoria's courts, with senior judicial figures moved to comment publicly about the drug's effects.