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HomeIssue 7Ice Age in Alice

Ice Age in Alice

2586 Sept 24 Methamphetamine OKBy ERWIN  CHLANDA
A point costs about the same as slab. It keeps you happy for a couple of days, is more fun and unlike booze you can get it 24/7. They’ll even home deliver.
Or you can order it on the dark web, pay by bitcoin and have it vacuum packed sent from overseas: 30% is intercepted, but 70% gets through.
The dealers are making a motza – buying wholesale for $20 and reselling for $70.
Definitely a win-win.
Until you hit the downside. “It can take a month or more to detox. Addicts sleep for the first couple of days and then they start getting very active. The brain is like a dormant volcano.
“Something makes it erupt. It sometimes has concealed mental health problems you’ve never known you had. And then everything erupts. Bang!
“Couple that with the lack of happy genes, and voices telling you to harm yourself. The pleasure centres of your brain have been killed off, or made dormant.
“When you go off the stuff, it takes between one and two years for those pleasure centres to regenerate.
“In the meantime you can’t feel pleasure about anything, food, that wonderful scenery, a great night out. A year or more of massive depression and mood swings. You have no sense of self worth.
“You are very lonely and isolated. It’s almost like being in purgatory. Your libido is out the window. You don’t have nightmares, you have night terrors. It’s so real. You’re actually living it. You wake up screaming the house down.
“After the first two years of living hell, the next two you’ll have bouts of depression and you have to be careful with your drinking. A lot of people are substituting with alcohol.”
A point is 10% of a gram of methamphetamine – ice.
Danny Lloyd speaks from personal experience: He was on ice for five years. Now he’s been clean for four years – “four years and 18 weeks”. He’s still counting the days.
He works for the small Alice Springs NGO called Drug and Alcohol Services Australia (DASA) which helps people who have addictions.
It used to deal 90% with alcohol and ganja.
Now it’s 50% ice.
It was the drug of choice mostly for white people – right across the social spectrum. Now half the users are Aboriginal, and the drug is invading bush communities.
Some users are as young as 14.
When DASA set up a special branch for ice in May last year, they had 25 people on their books within a few short weeks.
“We were inundated from the day dot,” says DASA CEO Carole Taylor.
Now they’ve had to close their books at 60 because the funding of $500,000 pa for two years doesn’t stretch beyond two workers, two cars and an office.
“There is not a lot of money in the ice bucket,” quips Ms Taylor.
It’s an absurd contrast to the public hysteria about alcohol initiatives whose costs in the millions are as massive as their results are minimal, with the floor price the latest silver bullet.
2586 Tai Tipene, Danny LloydThe fact that DASA is leading the nation with this service, and that people come to Alice because there is none in their home state, doesn’t seem to cut any ice (no pun intended).
What is DASA’s success rate?
AT LEFT: Tai Tipene and Danny Lloyd.
What’s success? Ask us in five years, says Ms Taylor.
While there are careful health statistics about alcohol abusers, there are none about ice. The reasons? Users are trying to conceal it. They often seek help as alcohol addicts or users of ganja. Ice is a hidden drug because of the stigma.
And it is “such a long term recovery” until success can be declared. “We can give you figures of people who’ve been off it for three months, six months, a year,” says Ms Taylor.
“Success can also be for a person to have been off it for three days,” says Tai Tipene, the second ice worker. “Look at the person, not the drug.”
The prospect for Alice Springs if it fails is horrendous: “Look at towns in regional Victoria ,” says Mr Lloyd – and other regional towns. “They are the ice capitals of the nation. It is absolutely out of control.”
Compared with it, the level of youth crime in Alice Springs would be a Mary Poppins tea party: “There are people who don’t want to live in these towns any more.”
Whilst urging the public to see ice as a medical not a criminal problem (not all that different to hitting up on sugar, prescription drugs, cigarettes, caffeine), Mr Tipene says DASA approaches the emergency from a social, not a medical angle.
It is relentless work: 60 hours a week, 24/7: Outreach, “taking rehab into people’s homes,” managing mortgages, jobs, careers, face-to-face support.
“Whatever works for their clients,” says Ms Taylor. This has included cleaning their flats so they don’t lose their bonds. Or cutting someone down from a noose and resuscitating them.
Help from other agencies is fragmented: Does the $40m plus a year Congress help?
“To be honest, no. We use their Social Emotional program occasionally. There are very few people in this town who are equipped in this field.”
Corrections, parole, courts (urging seeking help), lawyers, the hospital, Mission Australia assist regularly and Australian Drug Service Central Australia, commonly known as ADSCA, are “really good, really amazing”.
The competitive scramble for government funding – “too much ego” – doesn’t help with forming alliances in a common goal, meaning the client who is the prime focus, misses out.
Pain relief medication is usually only provided if a DASA member is in the room “because our clients are seen as drug seekers,” says Mr Lloyd.
Some people opt for a prison sentence to manage their addiction.
The youngest referral was a 14 years old who injected meths. A year later she was two months clean.
“We don’t force anyone,” says Mr Tipene. “We drop seeds, work with them, with the family.
“This young person is back on ice again, fell in with the wrong people and was not making eye contact with me any more.”
Employers have been found for recovering addicts, helping them “to form a new life” but employment services around town are still reluctant to take on “the more difficult cases” as opposed to the easy ones.
Many clients are professionally qualified and “we could have them back on stream within a week”.
It’s time for government action – and that means much more funding: That’s the clear message from DASA.
There have been three attempted suicides this year. The social work is “high pressure, a massive amount of emotion.
“Parents are crying, begging us to take their children. We can’t say no.
“Addicts are hiring kids to break into houses and steal for them.”
It’s crunch time.
PHOTO from the Alice Springs police who seized 28 grams of methamphetamine (ice) with an estimated street value of $42,000 on September 24.
Two men, aged 32 and 21 were arrested and charged after an extensive investigation by the NT Police, the Cross Border Team and South Australian Police.
UPDATE October 8: Comment by psychologist PHIL WALCOTT
Working within the social and emotional arena as a registered psychologist, I can truly appreciate the work being achieved through these two young men and DASA as an organisation.
They are looking to help support users, their families and friends and our whole community to beat this toxic activity. It is a scourge on so many lives at so many levels. As the only agency in town with a dedicated team available, the demand on human and financial resources at DASA is huge.
As a psychostimulant, a major factor impacting on its continued use is that once a person tries crystal methamphetamine (ice), they have such a euphoric experience that they keep trying to emulate it over and over again. The problem is that they will never reach that initial level again so trying to do so is a pointless exercise.
We, as a whole community, need to work together to improve the lives of young people intergenerationally so they are not tempted to engage in what can so easily become a human tragedy. There are so many positive choice options for people to be introduced to and engage within and around our town. We need to focus on those opportunities.
UPDATE Oct 8, 2.40pm
Police in Alice Springs have arrested three people in relation to two separate drug related incidents.
A 20-year-old woman and 29-year-old man were arrested on Friday after members of the Southern Drug Investigation Unit seized a package containing 14 grams of methamphetamine.
2588 ganja policeThe pair have been charged with one count each of supply methamphetamine, less than a commercial quantity, and have been remanded in custody to appear in court in Alice Springs this week and early next month.
Members of the Southern Drug Investigation Unit arrested a 42-year-old woman in a separate drug incident this morning.
It is alleged the woman was found in possession of approximately 5.7kg of cannabis (pictured). She is expected to be charged and appear before court later today.

– Police report



  1. The floor price is not a “silver bullet.”
    There is none. There are only a suite of measures to reduce levels of supply, including the BDR.
    A floor price targets the cheapest alcohol sold, mostly cask wine, consumed by the most desperate addicts, including pregnant women.
    Canada and Scotland have a floor price.
    It was introduced this week in the NT after a long evidence-based campaign.
    Cynicism is an easy choice, but I’ve been involved in reducing alcohol-related harm in the NT since 1986 when I produced four songs with Indigenous band, Coloured Stone for the NT Road Safety Board.
    If you allow yourself to get cynical and negative about drugs, of which alcohol is one of the most prevalent, then you might as well accept the carnage as inevitable.
    Take the opposition over the recent Master’s Games request by the police for light and midstrength beer.
    One of your readers posted anonymously, calling those who lobby to turn the tap down a “mob” who are only interested in prohibition. That’s hysteria.
    The NT Government is currently looking into the seven days a week take away grog licensing regime.
    Australia has a culture of alcoholism, particularly around sport.
    Changing that culture, currently costing NT taxpayers $640m p.a. is a positive step towards putting money into ice rehab.

  2. Legalise ganja, tax it to buggery and then double down on hammering the supply chain of white powders. Too easy, but then we’ve known that for at least 50 years.

  3. Russell, my use of the term mob is a common NT reference to a group of people, mainly Indigenous, who refer to themselves as this mob, that mob, or our mob.
    Insinuating that I used the term in a derogatory fashion in reference to your group, (PAAC?) was a collective noun, nothing sinister.
    I do not write anonymously, my name is Ray, however as I have explained countless times before, I prefer not to use my surname due to my employers policy on social media posts.
    Interesting that you also use a collective noun, inferring that people who enjoy a drink are alcoholics.
    You fail to mention that I was not alone in my opposition to the proposed grog ban, the Liquor Commission was the one that overturned it due to no evidence.
    An example was used that there was no ban on the sale of full strength grog at the Red Centre NATS.
    What alcohol related issues came about from that? None? I’ve just spent a week in Queensland, and amazingly there seemed to be a number of bottle shops within a fairly small radius, with takeaway sales from 10am. Amazingly, no floor price, no real obvious issues.
    We don’t have a problem with alcohol, we have a problem with dickheads.
    My original issue with your comments still stand, that the demographic who are comming to the games are not the ones that cause the issues in town, and being subjected to the extraordinary banning of many popular types of drinks available at similar types of events around the country had the potential to cause irreversible damage to the reputation of a wonderful event by targeting the entirely wrong audience.
    The damage caused would have far outweighed any perceived benifit. Many tourists I have observed and spoken to are incredulous at the current restrictions and laws we already have.
    Pseudo: I originally meant to comment on your post (until I felt compelled to reply to Rusell first), by saying that luckily the police do have legal protection if they need to use firearms, as the protection is triggered by the level of threat, not the underlying cause.
    If there is a life threatening risk to the officer or another person, section 28 and 29 of the Criminal Code Act (NT) applies and provides a defense for any shooting incident.
    Although I do agree, the scourge of ice is a very scary prospect for all people, including front line service personnel, including police, doctors, ambos and hospital staff.
    Not forgetting the parents at wits end trying to save their kids who get hooked on this garbage drug.
    Thoughts and prayers are with them all.
    Sadly it is cheaper and easier to get than grog on remote communities, and is fast becoming the drug of choice over ganja.

  4. It’s good to see this issue finally raised in a public forum, a massively escalating issue in both the town and surrounding communities for a long time.
    Make absolutely no mistake about it, some of that escalation is a direct outcome of various social experiments from governments, measures to curb the use of alcohol, particularly increasing the price, either in dollar terms or in the difficulty of obtaining it.
    Worse, while raising the price of alcohol is a direct slap in the face, extra tax on the average hard working citizen of the Territory, it will inevitably lead us into a much harder place as those intent on self destruction switch to a cheaper easier to obtain evil that is ice.
    The attitudes towards this escalating issue so amply displayed by Russell’s comment “we can put dollars saved on alcohol abuse towards ice rehab”.
    Yep, that’s the attitude of the “Bureaucrats Alcohol Action Coalition” BAAC.
    They are back again and along with them, escalating mayhem.
    Not only are their social experiments just shifting the issue at the expense of community goodwill, they are leading us at ever increasing pace into the vile dark horror that is an ice endemic.
    It is far more violent and far more destructive than anything we’ve seen locally to date.
    As a worker in the building industry I have rubbed shoulders with many consumed by this vile substance.
    I’ve seen the lights go out in the brightest of eyes.
    The issue requires a massive community response providing education to the kids, rehab to the usurers and a massive crackdown on both supply and use.
    Forced time away via a prison sentence is often the only useful intervention.
    Believe me, having witnessed first hand the horrors of this drug, alcohol abuse should, when taking preventative actions, be considered very much the lesser of two evils!
    Action against alcohol that drives abusers to ice should be considered as in keeping with the Territory Governments new theme as Boundless Stupidity!

  5. @ Russell Guy. Sorry mate. While I really do respect your view on this subject – and we have all seen this growing problem first hand for many years everywhere – I think the police request for light beer at the Masters Games was laughable.
    It was like removing a very small, well behaved fitness-conscious pimple once every two years on a very large 24/7/36 public pumpkin of out-of-control drug and alcohol addiction in the Alice (as down here in Melbourne Town).
    Common sense should have told the cops that this Masters Games judgment call simply got it wrong.

  6. Australia has a culture to do with tolerance.
    Unfortunately far too many of influence prefer to promote their own “preferred flavour”.
    They fail go recognise it is our range of acceptable ideas, acceptable flavours, which enables better decisions – in the longer term, which makes Australia a beacon to others.
    Our ability to tolerate different thinking is what enables things to improve for us all.

  7. Four balls coming back over the net. Policy on the run.
    @ Local 1: Comparing Queensland with the NT is apples and oranges. Been crossing the border all my life, not just for a week.
    @ Steve Brown: I want to see evidence for your claims, not just anecdotal. Been there.
    @ John Bell: Commonsense has been missing in action and @ Paul Parker, same thing.
    Tolerance, common sense and reason were the founding values of the European Enlightenment. Not going well.
    Finally, to all, I speak for myself, not for PAAC, whose evidence-based campaign assisted the NT Government in micro-managing the issue of liberal alcohol supply with a floor price. The claim that it makes all alcohol more expensive is incorrect.

  8. A social community provides regular review of social boundary limits.
    We need formal review increases as numbers of offenders and victims rises.
    Many offendors are themselves victims.

  9. Steve Brown, you claim ice – crystal meth – is a “massively escalating issue in both the town and surrounding communities for a long time”.
    I have just checked with experienced youth workers in several remote communities, and they are all mystified by your claim.
    Could it be that you are being fed false information?
    You are risking being seen as an hysteric, unless you can substantiate your claim.
    The fact that there have been occasional reports of isolated cases of ice use in bush communities over the years does not mean that its use is either widespread or escalating.

  10. No matter what issue is raised there is always the predictable head in the sand or more likely protect my own backside response from the few. This is no matter what the outcome for community. It is rather sad and sickening.
    Nothing would make me happier than if I was wrong in regards to growing use of ice in our communities.
    I wonder, did you actually read the article above, Eugenes Mate?
    Might be time you and your fictitious mates went along to DASA and had a good talk.
    I am suggesting a heavy handed community response before ice becomes endemic, not after the fact.
    Believe me, once it’s here at those levels, there is almost no way back.
    So yes, if we have genuine, as opposed to a bought and paid for 9 to 5 concern for our community, we damn well should be panicking about the level of ice penetration and we should be reacting harshly against it, not wasting millions on pathetic ineffective social experiments around further restricting access to alcohol, adding fuel to the fire while Rome burns.

  11. @ Eugene’s Mate: I am surprised that ice as you say does not have a foothold in remote communities out of Alice.
    It is so cheap, so readily available and is an epidemic in the lower socio-economic strata of the general urban community, in all ethnic sections, including Aboriginal, in Melbourne.
    It is almost off the scale and out of control.


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