Demand for meth help rises

David Salvaire and Cathy O'LearySound Telegraph

The number of people seeking rehabilitation services for methamphetamine in Rockingham shows no sign of abating, according to one of the State’s biggest drug treatment providers.

Figures from the Palmerston Association show the Rockingham office, which offers frontline and community outreach services, has handled a record number of addicts.

For the second year in a row, the number of clients identifying meth has outstripped other drugs of concern, including alcohol.

Throughout 2016-17, 32 per cent of clients who attended the Rockingham office said meth and other amphetamines were their problem drugs, compared to 24 per cent only two years ago.

Palmerston chief executive Sheila McHale said the data showed that, from a treatment perspective, there was a growing need for services in Rockingham.

“We have experienced a significant growth in demand over the last two years, with our total client numbers growing by 61 per cent since 2014-15,” she said.

“Our Rockingham and Mandurah offices are very busy but it’s impossible to say whether that’s a case of more people coming forward or more people becoming addicted to methamphetamines.

“All we can take from those figures is that there’s increasing demand on the existing services, particularly from methamphetamine, which requires a different approach.”

The troubling figures come as a Rockingham magistrate labelled methamphetamine a “scourge on our society” while sentencing a Port Kennedy man who attempted to purchase the drug online.

Ms McHale welcomed the Government’s recent decision to continue funding for specialist meth counselling positions.

Meth consumers can often take longer to engage, can have additional pressures from anxiety or depression and quite often need support with other matters such as nutrition, sleep hygiene and the prevention of other physical illnesses,

she said.

“So having additional resources has been very welcome. At Rockingham, we are fortunate to offer a meth clinic with the Government Next Step service, which offers a priority service for assessment, medical consultation, pharmacotherapy treatment, case management and group work.

The initial response has been positive with 68 people accessing the service between July and December 2017.”

Palmerston’s annual report said services were on a rapid learning curve in the treatment of meth addiction.

There was strong demand for meth family group sessions, and a pilot of Saturday morning appointments for people seeking help, which started in April last year, had been generally booked to capacity.

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