‘Ice destroyed my life’: recovering ice addict and former dealer speaks out

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3 million Australians have sampled the drug ice – which is now officially the most problematic illicit substance in the country, according to the Australian Crime Commission.

The alarming statistics form part of Australia’s first national intelligence report into the so-called “ice epidemic”.

In releasing the landmark report in Canberra today, Justice Minister Michael Keenan noted the drug ice touches “all stratas” of Australian society.

Twenty-five year old Melbourne woman Melinda Hansen is a prime example. 

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After a private school education, she lived in London for two years where she says cocaine use was regular. 

Upon returning to Australia she found the drug ice more accessible and cheaper.

“One point could cost $80 to $100,” she said. 

Melinda is now nine-months “clean” and is helping others in a Melbourne-based residential rehabilitation program.

Reflecting on her introduction to the drug, she says – at the time – puffing on an ice-pipe seemed socially acceptable, but it led to a life-changing journey of unwanted media attention, intravenous drug use and jail.

“Stripped me of my confidence, my self-esteem, it tore away my family and my friends and destroyed my life,” Ms Hansen said. 

At the time of her arrest, Melinda was living in an upmarket Melbourne hotel which was raided by police. They discovered what they described as equipment “suitable for the manufacture of methylamphetamine.”

The media likened the arrangement to something out of Breaking Bad. Melinda was dubbed the “Chapel Street dealer”, making her introduction to prison-life even more challenging.

“It was really confronting that I was about to walk into jail. I’d never ever been to jail before and to know that the whole yard was about to be talking about me,” she said. 

Full interview with recovering ice addicts Melinda Hansen and Tom Liddicoat 0:00 Share Sadly, lives ruined or ended by ice are increasingly common.

The Australian Crime Commission report says seizures of the drug and pre-cursor chemicals are at record levels.

“We have trans-national groups coming from nearly 50 countries who are importing drugs and/or involved in the manufacture or trafficing within Australia,” Crime Commission Chief Executive Chris Dawson told SBS.

Criminologist and associate professor John Fitzgerald cautions against approaching the ice problem solely from a law-and order perspective.

“What we’re seeing – we’re detecting a whole lot more drug crime but it’s probably related to the fact that police are putting a whole lot more energy in discovering the problem in the first place,” he said.

Associate professor Fitzgerald says community interventions and ice-specific rehabilitation are crucial elements of the debate, and the govenment concedes an “all-agency” approach is necessary.

Drug counsellor Carlo La Marchesina agrees. He fears the ice situation will worsen unless government funding is significantly increased. 

“If we don’t take care of this situation now we’re going to create a generation of aggressive zombies,” he said.

Melinda Hansen is now on a 18-month community corrections order, and has been ordered to perform 200 hours of community service work.

She now plans to use her first-hand experience of ice to will help others.

“Be able to share what I’ve gone through and help them get a chance to open their lives to the opportunities of recovery,” she said.

 

Watch The Feed’s award-winning documentary ‘Ice Towns’The rise of crystal methamphetamine, commonly known as ice, is devastating regional Victoria. It is a drug that is most often associated with bigger cities but ice is also infiltrating small towns such as Horsham and Shepparton, destroying families and communities.  0:00 Share

Barnett lacked diplomacy over GST: Labor

WA Labor has slammed Colin Barnett for not being more diplomatic in his stoush with fellow premiers over the states’ carve-up of the GST.

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The premier went into the COAG meeting on Friday hoping to win support for a change in the way GST revenue is distributed, given WA’s share is set to fall from less than 38 cents in the dollar to below 30 cents in 2015/16.

But he came away only with a promise of further talks with Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the hint that some infrastructure funds might be available for WA.

State Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said Mr Barnett should have been more diplomatic.

“The premier’s behaviour has been embarrassing but what is more embarrassing is the fact that he’s come away with no outcome for WA,” Mr McGowan told reporters.

“With a Liberal prime minister and a Liberal premier, you’d think we’d get a better outcome than we have but we’ve got zip.

“Mr Barnett’s behaviour succeeded in uniting Liberal and Labor governments around Australia against us.”

Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten said the premiers should have conducted themselves more maturely “than a bunch of schoolboys yelling at each other”, but reserved special blame for Mr Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey for telling the states and territories to duke it out between themselves.

“Today’s premier’s conference and the lead-up to it has been such a disillusioning affair for Australians,” Mr Shorten said.

Mr Barnett told ABC radio a lower GST share meant WA would probably have to cut capital works programs, reduce spending generally, “withdraw from some arrangements” and focus more on its trade relationships with Asia.