Ice epidemic top priorityBy Glenn Milne
THE "ice'' epidemic will become the top priority of the Federal Government's $40 million National Drugs Campaign as politicians react to the terrifying effects of the drug.
The new anti-ice campaign will include confronting advertisements on television, radio and in print.
"Ice is now our number one target in the war on drugs,'' the Parliamentary Secretary for Health Christopher Pyne told The Sunday Telegraph.
Mr Pyne met with departmental officials last week who briefed him on the third phase of the National Drugs Campaign.
He told them there was insufficient emphasis on "ice'' and to come back with an education kit that elevated the dangers of crystal methamphetamine and its effects on users.
The Government will fund trials of the drug, Modafinil, to treat methamphetamine withdrawal. It is also developing the National Amphetamine-Type Stimulants Strategy to deal with "ice'' use at law enforcement and health levels.
"The thing about ice is that it is both incredibly addictive and incredibly destructive,'' Mr Pyne said.
"While you can get off heroin using methadone, so far there's no way to get off ice.
"And you need more and more to get the same physical effect. "That's why these evil drug barons are pushing it. It's terrifying.
"Cannabis continues to be the most widely used illicit drug, however amphetamines are emerging as a major drug menace. In 2004 methamphetamine was the most common drug recently injected by drug users.''
The Federal Government's decision to target "ice'' coincides with NSW Premier Morris Iemma's call last week for a national summit to address the problem.
It's estimated that more than half a million Australians have used amphetamines in the past year.
And the latest study conducted by the National Alcohol Research Centre found there were more than 73,000 dependant "ice'' users in Australia. Courts have recorded a rise in the number of ice addict-driven crime.
As well as being highly addictive, methamphetamine use can lead to violent psychotic episodes and self-harm.
Frontline health workers are also at risk of attack. The Government is now trialling sedatives to help health workers deal with violent users.
Mr Iemma has written to all state and territory leaders requesting their attendance at the summit to be held in Sydney next month, prior to the regular Ministerial Council on Drugs meeting.
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