Starting with cannabis was the simple way that former drug addict Murray Sibbison fell into a damaging spiral of addiction, including to ice.
He spoke about his experience as an addict as part of Moira Shire’s Think Twice About Ice community forum in Cobram on June 20, part of a series in the shire.
Starting with marijuana when he was about 14, Mr Sibbison eventually went searching for the ‘high’ again, trying a number of different drugs in the search.
He said he’d pretty much ‘‘tried about all of them, except for heroin’’.
‘‘The high for me was ecstasy, for me I never got that with ice, it wasn’t as euphoric as I’d expected,’’ he said.
‘‘I went into a big chase of drugs, looking to get that high again. I would dream about ice, and then wake up and want to use.’’
Mr Sibbison said his addiction has essentially cost him a job and forced him into a dole culture, forced him into hospitalisation a number of times, before he entered rehab.
‘‘The thing we’re seeing most with ice is that you never stop using it, or it’s very difficult to — better yet, never take it,’’ he said.
A panel of experts and professionals who deal with ice users in their work, including Victoria Police and Ambulance Victoria officers, were also on hand to share their experiences and answer any questions.
Mr Sibbison, now the intake co-ordinator for the organisation he credits for helping him get clean, spoke about Teen Challenge and the rehabilitation process the centre offers for long-term residential rehab.
‘‘Our focus is on building a better way of trying, through support, in a residential program which allows people to feel safe and drop their guards down.
‘‘With long-term rehab, you have to choose, acknowledge your poor choices in the past and decide to change and fully engage with the process.
‘‘I speak to a lot of parents who want to help their children, and I tell them it’s about not endorsing what they’re doing and enforcing behaviour and restrictions if they keep doing it.
‘‘Ice addicts take the path of least resistance, so they need strong boundaries.’’
The evening’s facilitator, Paul Morgan from the Penington Institute, said although ice was a big issue in the community, alcohol still had the highest rates of substance abuse in Australia.
‘‘(Alcohol) has an effect on the central nervous system too, however, it is a legal drug and you can go to the store and buy as much of it as you want if you’re over 18,’’ Mr Morgan said.
‘‘It’s the same with tobacco, that’s also considered a legal drug.’’
Mr Morgan discussed the institute’s research on why people took drugs, especially ice, and what significant health issues taking drugs opened users up to, including infection from a syringe, overdose, contracting hepatitis A or C, substance abuse and dependence and crime to pay for the habit.
He also spoke about the immediate physical effects of the drug, with the first major problems becoming evident in about two years, and psychosis setting in another year after that.
Mr Morgan said a solution to the issue was something the entire community should be involved in.
‘‘We think that local experience and local ideas and knowledge will help along the pathway to a local solution,’’ he said.
‘‘We know it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, it’s the community coming up with options which are a good fit for the community.
‘‘It is available in the community, in any community, and from what we’re seeing, more and more people using on a weekly or daily basis.’’
Turning Point Breakpoint program’s Jacqueline Langrick also spoke to the audience about what family and friends could do if they suspected someone was taking ice, and how to talk to them about it and what resources were available.