Grant to fight drug addiction welcomed

A BALLARAT mother whose son sought drug withdrawal treatment in Geelong for an ice addiction has welcomed a state government grant to tackle the methamphetamine scourge sweeping the country.

Sharon, a mother of two sons aged 20 and 27 who both battled ice addictions late last year, is “so proud” of them since they became clean. 

Minister for Community Services and Mental Health Mary Wooldridge announced on Monday the government would invest $34 million over four years to expand drug and alcohol treatment services. 

The Grampians region will receive a share of $30.9 million to expand community-based drug and alcohol services.

This comes after Victoria’s Parliamentary Inquiry into the use and supply of methamphetamines.

“My family is no longer affected by ice,” Sharon said. “My youngest son (who attended YSAS residential withdrawal unit in Geelong) now is thinking about doing a community care course  ... because he’s been there, done that and come out the other side.”

Sadly, Sharon’s story is not consistent with other families affected by ice and she believes Ballarat is desperately in need of the funding. 

Meanwhile, the number of youths affected by ice being admitted to Uniting Care Ballarat’s youth residential withdrawal unit Tabor House continues to increase.

“The number of ice-affected youths being admitted has increased by 80 per cent in the past 18 months,” Tabor House withdrawal nurse Darren Cutts said.

Mr Cutts agrees that there is a need to inject funding into Ballarat’s drug and alcohol services.

He said residential rehabilitation programs were non-existent in Ballarat, and clients must travel to Bendigo or Melbourne to seek extended-stay services.

Tabor House provides a similar 14-day service to YSAS, accepting clients aged between 12 and 21 years of age.

“The funding announcement is invaluable to aid rural communities affected by the ever-increasing numbers of people affected by the current methamphetamine epidemic,” Mr Cutts said.

“However, it needs to be a multi-faceted approach which includes drug and alcohol counselling and detox. But, also the need for extended facilities such as residential rehabilitation programs, which are non-existent in Ballarat.

“The majority of clients we have use illicit substances as a coping strategy and this money will be an invaluable help in working through and addressing these issues.”

david.jeans@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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