Targeted responses needed

April 06, 2018

Methylamphetamine consumption has increased in regional areas, according to the fourth report of the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program released yesterday.

Communities in regional Victoria bear the brunt of drug-fuelled rage and violence more than anywhere else in Australia.

Our attitude towards methylamphetamine use needs to change because the damage done is becoming multi-generational.

A report released yesterday about drug use across Australia paints a worrying picture.

The fourth report of the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program revealed methylamphetamine consumption had increased in regional areas, while consumption decreased in capital cities.

Joshua Simm, the manager of The Cottage, a Drug and Alcohol rehabilitation facility in Shepparton, said his experiences there aligned with the findings.

‘‘Methylamphetamine has hit rural areas harder,’’ he said.

More than 8.3tonnes of methylamphetamine is consumed in Australia each year, as well as more than three tonnes of cocaine, 1.2tonnes of MDMA and 700kg of heroin.

The question must be asked — is the government’s war on drugs working?

In Greater Shepparton, arrests for cultivating and manufacturing drugs in Greater Shepparton more than doubled last year.

However, Shepparton police Inspector Troy Hargadon said the increase in arrests for drug-related offences was indicative of the great work of police in our region.

The debate about drugs continues with the suggestion of pill testing at music festivals.

For now, the Federal Government will continue to tip millions of dollars into programs, to prepare research report findings, hoping to better shape more effective, targeted responses to drug demand and supply — particularly in high-use areas.

Highlighting the dangers and stories of lives being ruined by these substances is a start.

Education and help is the key.

Yesterday’s front page News story on the recovery of Tye Atkinson through the rehabilitation work of The Cottage in Shepparton was a positive spark in what is still a shadow across regional Victoria.

The government’s National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program is evidence that drug abuse is still a dark path that many in our community are walking — but places like The Cottage can provide a light on the journey.

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