Ice abuse at tipping point

EMERGENCY departments have more than doubled their intake over five years of people

needing hospitalisation for abusing the drug ice.

A new NSW Health report found the number of amphetamine users remained stable between the last national surveys in 2010 and 2013, with 2.1% of Australians over the age of 14 having used the drug.

About 70% of users partook of the drug less than once a month in 2013.

The report's other

findings were more grim.

Ice or crystal meth is generally considered more potent and addictive than traditional forms of amphetamines such as speed.

Over the three years to 2013, the proportion of amphetamine users who were using ice had increased from 22% to 50%.

The number of people

using the powdered form, speed, had dropped from 52% to 27%.

The study found frequency of use had also shot up to 15.5% of users partaking of amphetamines daily or weekly, up from 9.3% in 2009.

Ice users were even more frequent.

In 2009, 12.4% were daily or weekly users. The figure had more than doubled to 25.3% by 2013.

"From 2009 to 2014, the annual number of probable methamphetamine-related presentations to 59 NSW public hospital emergency departments increased from 394 to 2963," the report found.

"This number compares to 13,143 presentations for acute alcohol problems in 2014."

Aboriginal men were six times as likely to be hospitalised for ice-related issues in 2013-14 than non- Aboriginal men.

Aboriginal females were admitted to hospital with crystal meth-related ailments at a rate 10 times that of non-indigenous women.

"There is no 'typical' crystalline methamphetamine user, with people who use coming from across all social, cultural and economic backgrounds," the report found.

"However, available

evidence suggests that the drug's use occurs more frequently among young people in their 20s and 30s, young men, Aboriginal people and gay, lesbian or bisexual people."

-APN NEWSDESK

ICE EPIDEMIC

THE EFFECTS

feeling "very good" and confident

feeling alert and energetic

heart palpitations

breathing faster

feeling less hungry

being excited or agitated

getting headaches

feeling dizzy

HARMS

anxiety, anger and depression

suspiciousness and paranoia

hallucinations

social isolation

risk-taking behaviour

cardiovascular disease

vasculitis

loss of blood's ability to clot

gastro-internal bleeding

liver damage or failure

hyperthermia

heart disease

Source: NSW Health



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