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Breaking free of ice and methamphetamine addiction

Breaking free of ice addiction

As media, medical professionals and police enforcement have reported, Australia has a significant problem with addiction to ice, also known as crystal meth and methamphetamine. The demand for ice is increasing. In many rehabilitation facilities, people entering rehab for ice addiction recently began outnumbering those entering rehab for alcohol addiction.

As is often true with addiction, ice users come from diverse backgrounds; addicts may be men or women, teenagers to people in their 50s, and come from all walks of life. Ice use is growing, not only in the number of users but in the frequency of use. The National Drug and Alcohol Research Center estimates use of ice and other methamphetamines among drug users has increased 52% over the past decade.

We know ice is a problem in our communities. If it’s a problem in your life, here are some ideas about what to do.

If ice is a problem for someone you care about

Friends and family of an ice addict can play a helpful role, and have a significant impact, in supporting an addict in learning to manage and live with their addiction. It’s important to not only know how to support and intervene with the person you care about; you also need to protect yourself and know where to find additional support.

Reach out for support: If you want to help someone you care about who is struggling with an ice addiction, remember that the sooner you reach out for support for yourself and for them, the better the outcome will be. You might start by discussing your concerns with your family doctor. They can offer insight, and refer you to other support services, such as the free Family First Step Program provided by Arrow Health.

Communicate: Connection with you is a crucial factor in an addict’s willingness to seek help and find recovery, so do your best to keep the lines of communication open. It’s important to have an honest conversation about the problem. Whilst the initial conversation may be challenging if you stay calm and caring it can lay the groundwork for ongoing communications in which the ice addict relies on you and trusts you.

Guidelines for a conversation with an ice addict:

To lay the groundwork for trust and communication, try to have a conversation expressing your concern, support and love for them. Focus on how they are doing, rather than what they are doing.

  1. Choose a time when the person using ice is either not under the influence of ice or other drugs or when they are less high. Avoid starting the conversation when the ice user is on their way out of the house.
  2. Set the stage thoughtfully. Instead of asking the ice user to come to you, offer to go to them or meet in a place where they are comfortable. In difficult conversations, frequent eye contact can increase anxiety and feel more confronting so consider sitting/walking beside them.
  3. Plan what you want to say. Do your best not to lecture. You should listen more than you speak in this conversation, and any questions you ask should reflect your concern about how the person is, in terms of their work, their friends, etc. A good approach is a gentle question that urges them to talk, such as “How are things going at work?”.
  4. Don’t make assumptions, and try to refrain from speaking any judgmental thoughts. Your goal, in this conversation, is to strengthen your relationship by showing that you care. Talk about what you’ve observed – that the person is out a lot, and seems unhappy, seems to have lost interest in hobbies.
  5. Be trustworthy and supportive. Let the ice user know you are available to listen, and that you care.

You may want to consider seeking the support of an intervention program. Arrow Health offers intervention services that work with families to guide the ice addict toward admitting their problem and agreeing to enter a treatment program.

Going forward, remember that it’s important to take care of yourself too. Remind yourself often that you cannot fix this person; only they can take the steps needed to reduce or eliminate their use of ice. Be sure you take time for your own happiness and well-being.

If ice is a problem for you

If you are ready to seek support for your ice addiction, the sooner you take action, the better. Physical decline happens rapidly with ice use; meth abuse causes the destruction of tissues and blood vessels, and changes in brain chemistry lead to impaired memory, and even violent behaviour. Here are ways others have detoxed from ice:

  1. You can go to a detox facility until you’ve moved past your primary withdrawal symptoms, or attend a residential rehabilitation facility that also includes detox. Not all residential facilities can safely detox clients however, Arrow Health does offer this service at their residential facility in Woodend.
  2. You can stop using ice on your own although it is difficult. The best approach is to find a place to retreat to for a few days, and ask for help from sober friends and family.
  3. You can remain at home, and rely on an outpatient detoxification program. Arrow Health offers a self-managed detox program.

It can feel overwhelming to consider giving up ice which is why you don’t have to do it alone. Help and support are available. Contact a rehabilitation facility near you, or ask your friends, family or your GP to help you find a program that can help you change your life for the better.

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