ICE users could be people holding down full-time jobs and getting high on weekends, a Ballarat Community Health expert says.
BCH alcohol and other drugs manager Suzanne Powell said there were strong stereotypes about who uses methamphetamines and fears stemming from the drug's illegal status, quick addiction rate and impacts on crime.
Ms Powell said the stigma made it hard for users and their loved ones to seek help but she maintained substance abuse did not discriminate anyone.
While BCH will run a free community information session to support loved ones of people using ice, Ms Powell said it was important to keep perspective.
"There is a media portrayal that we have an ice pandemic and we hear about those cases when things go terribly wrong but there are people who use ice and can be high-functioning through the week, just as with alcohol," Ms Powell said.
"...Ice is not one of the drugs used in a high percentage of the population. We need to remember the stats say point-two of the population use ice compared to 70 per cent use of alcohol. Predominantly the people we see coming in for treatment are using alcohol."
Sometimes when a loved one is not ready for treatment or change, people wonder where does that leave a family member?Suzanne Powell
Ms Powell said the way methamphetamine and ice worked, the changing chemicals in the brain coming down from a high, made for a person to become quickly addicted. This was also where family members could feel shame and isolation.
She said it was vital family members know to take care of themselves.
"Sometimes when a loved one is not ready for treatment or change, people wonder where does that leave a family member," Ms Powell said. "People are not always aware there is support for families. Don't let stigma get in the way of seeking support in what can be a difficult time for family members."
Ms Powell said the theory principles of the information session could be applied to substance use as whole.
The session will help to identify if loved ones are using ice and their patterns of drug use. There will also be strategies on how to talk to loved ones about drug use and how to manage challenging behaviours.
Ms Powell also did not prescribe to the theory ice was a gateway drug. She said there was no one way of picking up ice - some may users may have used alcohol or cannabis in the past, while others may not have used other substances before picking up ice.
The fastest-growing presentations for substance abuse in Ballarat, Ms Powell said, was women in their 40s and 50s and alcohol.
BCH's Breakthrough for Families session is at its Victoria Street base in Bakery Hill on March 11, from 6pm.
The session follows International Family Drug Support Day, which was on Monday, in highlighting the ripple effects drug use has on family and friends.
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