UnitingCare ReGen expands to Narre Warren

Martin Foley

Martin Foley MP announces a $25 million expansion to drug rehabilitation services across Victoria.

UnitingCare ReGen has welcomed the Victorian Government’s $25 million expansion of drug rehabilitation services across the state.

Martin Foley, the Victorian Minister for Mental Health, announced last Friday that the new services will treat an additional 500 Victorians with ice addiction every year.

One of the new programs will be run at Connections UnitingCare’s Narre Warren site. This will enable the agency to provide rehabilitation services for residents living in Melbourne’s outer south east.

The new services are a response to the Victorian Government’s Ice Action Plan. According to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, an estimated 80,000 Victorians used crystal methamphetamine (more commonly known as ‘ice’) in the past year.

While methamphetamine use has been stable over the past four years, there has been a change in the way the drug is taken. According to the most recent National Drugs Strategy Household Survey, the use of methamphetamine in powder form has decreased from 51 per cent in 2010 to 29 per cent in 2013 but the use of the drug in crystal form has more than doubled from 22 per cent to 50 per cent during that same period.

Crystal methamphetamine is the more potent form of the drug and its side effects are more intense. Ice can heighten paranoia, irritability and aggression and this often poses a danger to family members, friends, paramedics and police officers.

Hospitalisation as a result of ice use has skyrocketed, with methamphetamine-related ambulance attendances increasing by 88 per cent in metropolitan Melbourne and nearly 200 per cent in regional Victoria.

Ice addiction can have devastating effects on families. It can contribute to family violence, relationship breakdown and financial loss. A report in The Age recently revealed that parents of ice addicts are using their retirement funds to pay for their children’s rehabilitation.

One of the methods that governments and social services are using to tackle ice addiction is drug rehabilitation services.

Mr Foley paid tribute to the success of UnitingCare ReGen’s Catalyst and Torque programs at the announcement on Friday.

Catalyst and Torque offers free support during the post-withdrawal period through mood management sessions, individual counselling and recreational activities such as art and yoga.

UnitingCare ReGen CEO Laurence Alvis said the $25 million funding was an important step forward for alcohol and drug treatment in Victoria.

“Accessibility of treatment services has been a common concern expressed by communities around Victoria, particularly in relation to the impacts of methamphetamine use,” Mr Alvis said.

“Today’s announcement marks a significant increase in treatment sector capacity and the range of treatment services available to those affected.

“We know that, when provided as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, evidence-based, non-residential rehabilitation programs can achieve sustained benefits for participants, their families and the wider community. “

Elise, a past participant in the Torque program, spoke at the announcement about the assistance of rehabilitation services on her road to recovery.

“The Torque program was a huge part of my recovery and has taught me lots of beneficial things to bring forward into my everyday life,” she said.

“One of the most beneficial parts of the program was the CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) components. For me, challenging my thinking has always been difficult, but through this process, I am able to challenge unhelpful thoughts.”

The Narre Warren program is expected to launch in October later this year.

Image from UnitingCare ReGen via Twitter.

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