Programs attempt to cool ‘Ice’ come-down

By Adam Coleman

The battle to halt the rise of arguably Australia’s worst drug problem has begun, with the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) conducting world-first clinical trials of a new drug to help methamphetamine users kick the habit, while in NSW two new clinics providing pilot treatment programs will be set-up to treat people with health issues from the drug.

The crystalline form of methamphetamine, with the street name ‘Ice’ is the drug causing the most concern with more addicts across Australia than heroin. A powerfully addictive synthetic drug, statistics show ‘Ice’ is associated with increased incidence of health problems, psychosis, violence and crime.

Sydney's St Vincent Hospital and at the Royal Newcastle Centre will open the two clinics later this month, to treat people with health issues stemming from methamphetamines abuse.

The clinics will provide specialised treatment services for methamphetamine users and will operate in a similar way to four ‘cannabis clinics’ run by NSW Health, with referrals coming from GPs, other agencies as well as addicts referring themselves.

The new clinics will expand on the existing NSW Government initiatives to tackle this emerging problem.

The NDARC is presently conducting a world-first clinical trial of Modafinil, a drug that has shown great potential in treating cocaine users in the US and could potentially be used to help wean users off methamphetamines.

Forty users are taking part in the 10-week trial and the NDARC has requested 50 more volunteers.

According to NDARC data, there are 37,000 regular amphetamine users in NSW aged between 15 and 49, while 28,000 of those are dependant on the drug.

Rates of psychosis for regular methamphetamine users are up to 11 times higher than the general population.

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