ReGen calls for comprehensive methamphetamine response (15/05/14)

Melbourne, VIC, 15th May 2014 – UnitingCare ReGen, the lead alcohol and other drug treatment and education agency of UnitingCare Victoria & Tasmania, today called for a comprehensive response to methamphetamine related harms in Victoria.

In releasing a new report on ReGen’s work developing targetted treatment responses for people who use methamphetamine, CEO Laurence Alvis noted widespread evidence of methamphetamine related harms:

The Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry and the recent Australian Crime Commission report have provided rich data on some of the impacts of methamphetamine use for individuals, families and the wider community.

While it is important to keep these harms in perspective (and avoid inflammatory rhetoric in public discussion of the issue), there are some clear challenges for all of us in developing an effective response to the needs of individuals, families and wider communities affected by methamphetamine use.

We know that rates of methamphetamine use (at least in comparison to other drug types) are increasing.  At ReGen, we have seen the proportion of people seeking treatment for methamphetamine dependence increase from 6% in 2010 to 15% today.  It is also noteworthy that 45% of all people currently seeking treatment with ReGen nominate methamphetamine as their first or second drug of choice.

We know that there are barriers to treatment for methamphetamine dependence and welcome the recent Victorian Government announcement of an additional $34 million for increased access to methamphetamine treatment. 

There is much that treatment providers can do to improve the effectiveness of their work with people who use methamphetamine but, if we are to develop a comprehensive response to a complex issue (and an informed public debate), there are a range of strategies that should be included at a policy level:

    • Well-crafted prevention messages (as an adjunct to other strategies); 
    • Support for frontline services providers (police, ambulance officers, Emergency Department staff) such as advice on strategies to decrease the likelihood of precipitating violent responses from intoxicated individuals; 
    • Support for families (face-to-face and online information, strategies and support); 
    • Training for primary care service staff to encourage and support them to provide early interventions;
    • Further research on effective methamphetamine treatment (including evaluation of innovative practice); 
    • Development of clinical practice guidelines for methamphetamine treatment in different settings; 
    • Support for treatment services to provide better access and evidence-based programs to meet the needs of this client group; and 
    • Encouragement for more balanced media reporting of methamphetamine use, associated harms and treatment services.

We look forward to working together with the Victorian Government to develop a comprehensive and evidence-based response.

Ends

For further information or comment please contact Laurence Alvis (03 9384 8880 or 0421 811 707) or Media Contact Paul Aiken (0435 875 818).