Ice: A Hot Topic

There’s been a lot of talk about Ice this week. And its not the sort you use to cool your drinks. Crystal Meth is a drug on the rise, and authorities are waking up to the need to take action. 

The Australian Crime Commission has taken a look at the issue in order to get a picture of the national situation. In a report released this week it’s found more than 60 per cent of Australia’s highest risk serious and organised crime targets are involved in the methylamphetamine market. 

The Territory Government has also announced it will establish a parliamentary committee to investigate the prevalence and impacts of Ice use here. It is expected to report back to Parliament by September.

As for Alice Springs, incidents resulting from Ice are becoming more visible. With three drugs busts in almost as many months, it’s clear that there’s little need for a supply chain from Adelaide or Darwin when you can cook up a drug in a home laboratory. 

Detective Senior Sergeant Peter Malley from Alice Springs police says all sorts of police incidents stem from the use of ice:

“We’ve seen home invasions, one in particular where somebody had a fractured skull, where the offenders were under the influence of ice and the offences were committed in relation to ice, there was a drug debt. So that was one locally that caught our eye”

He was hesitant to suggest that the scene was rapidly on the rise in Alice Springs, but he did confirm Ice is very much a focus for the police: “Asking the question are we seizing more ice, the answer’s yes because we’re doing a lot more work in that space. But the quantities have increased and we’re picking up intelligence that there are a lot more users around, and supply and demand will dictate that the drug dealers will jump onto that.”

A former addict and dealer from interstate who doesn’t want to be named, agreed to tell me what life was like once you’re involved in the scene. I asked her what it felt like to take Ice:

“When you first have a decent amount, you can feel your blood rushing, your heart races, you can feel your pulse, like a big adrenaline hit. You can do anything -  if you want to build something you can go and do it because you feel energised, but then you start to die down from that. And that’s when people have more. And that goes on and on and on.”

It was an addiction that led the 19 year old to quit two jobs and start dealing. But it’s a lifestyle that comes with many costs…

“I’ve lost two houses…one of them got smashed apart by one of my exes, the other one got burnt to the ground. I’ve been in horrendous states, being up for nine days and trying to drive at the same time. It’s not good. You’re not coherent with anything. Guns, knives, I’ve seen it all.”

This young lady has lost contact with much of her family, but by finding the strength to move away she has a good chance at starting over again. But with no substitute like methadone to help stabilise a withdrawl, it’s not been an easy road:

“Your bones ache, you’ve got shivers, your sleeping patterns are out the window, your face feels numb because you’ve got headaches, sore eyes. Smoking Ice will pretty much ruin your whole nervous system. You can twitch. I still twitch to this day and I’ve been clean nearly 6 months.”

While we wait for the outcome of the Government’s inquiry, people like Alice Springs Detective Peter Malley are on the front line trying to deal with the situation day to day. “It’s not getting better at this stage, but we’re only a small community and I’m sure we can have a big impact in a short amount of time.”

You can find drug and alcohol counselling 24 hours a day, 7 days per week through Turning Point:

Pictures courtesy of Alice Springs Police.