National Ice Taskforce members Ken Lay and Dr Sally McCarthy recently met with UnitingCare ReGen staff, consumer consultants and participants in the agency’s residential withdrawal and non-residential rehabilitation programs.
Mr Lay, a former Victorian Police Commissioner, and Dr McCarthy, emergency physician and former president of the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine said they were impressed by the effectiveness of ReGen’s services and praised the efforts of program participants. Many have made significant improvements in alcohol and other drug use, rebuilt family relationships and developed new skills to sustain their long term recovery from drug dependence.
Participants were able to tell Mr Lay and Dr McCarthy about the impact of treatment service shortages, stigmatisation and social isolation. These issues particularly impact on people who use ice (methamphetamine) as well as their families. They stressed the need for practical, evidence based supports.
Mr Lay said there were no simple solutions to what is a complex and multi-layered problem. He highlighted the need for a range of complementary responses, including a focus on building resilience amongst school children to prevent future drug dependence.
Dr McCarthy recognised the need for the improved availability of clear, authoritative and practical information for community members to help earlier identification of when someone may be at risk and easy-to-understand advice on where to get help.
ReGen CEO Laurence Alvis said the visit was a terrific opportunity to challenge the usual perceptions of people who are affected by methamphetamine use.
“The belief that nothing can be done for people who are dependent on methamphetamine is understandable, but misguided,” Mr Alvis said.
“There are effective treatment options and there is much that family, friends and service providers can do to reduce the immediate impacts of someone’s methamphetamine use and support longer-term recovery.”