HE had a good job, a nice car and money to spend.
An occasional cannabis user, David then took the step he said ruined his life.
He smoked a “toke” of ice from a mate and within eight months he lost everything.
David (not his real name) has now been clean of his addiction for four months, though it pains him that he still only gets to see his children occasionally.
“It completely destroyed my life,” David told the Wodonga hearing of a Victorian parliamentary inquiry into the supply and use of methamphetamine.
Before he became an ice addict, he was “living the dream”.
“It’s a shocking drug, it’s one of the worse you could ever encounter,” he said.
What shocked him into doing something about his addiction was suffering an overdose he almost didn’t survive.
“After that I thought, ‘no, no more’,” he said.
David said he had a clear message he wanted to get across to the inquiry committee, headed by Western Victoria upper house member Simon Ramsay.
“It’s something you want to get out of your community,” he said.
Albury-based Murrumbidgee Health drug and mental health clinician Alan Fisher said while research had not been able to establish a definite link, it seemed alcohol and cannabis use was a common precursor to taking ice.
“We see a lot of problems with the way people are using methamphetamine,” he said.
Mr Fisher said now was the time to take a “softly, softly” approach in trying to deal with meth addiction.
He said governments did not need a new set of rules and protocols for health workers dealing with addicts — the ones in place were correct, but there did need to be more health workers trained in them.
He favoured better resourcing for Victoria’s existing specialised treatment centres, rather than opening a new one in the North East.
Mr Fisher said it was important to note — as did other witnesses — that someone with an methamphetamine addiction usually had other addiction problems, such as alcohol.
There could also be underlying mental heal-
th issues, or problems relating to experiences in their childhood.
Regarding the often touted predisposition to violence from ice addicts, Mr Fisher said it was rare for Albury hospital’s emergency department to be placed in such situation.
He said triage staff were trained to quickly detect the telltale signs an addict was about to lose control.
Before the over-stimulating environment of the noisy emergency department exacerbated their heightened mental state, the hospital’s psychiatric staff were called in to calm the situation.
“It’s not hugely common for us to have someone running around assaulting people,” he said.