For the first time, amphetamine illegal drug abuse is the number one problem for people seeking treatment for drug addiction, according to Australia's largest rehabilitation service. Sydney's Odyssey House has seen the lot over the years - the heroin usage of the '60s and '70s, and then the rise in the popularity of cocaine and powerful cannabis.
Ten years ago, heroin was the centre's major drug battle. However, over the past decade amphetamine use has surged as the heroin supply dried up in Australia. Now, the centre's staff say the use of drugs like speed, ice and ecstasy has increased dramatically and the users are younger. An annual snapshot of drug admissions at Odyssey House has found a third of people are seeking treatment for amphetamines addictions - a 10 per cent
increase from last year. "Amphetamines are cheap right now," the organisation's chief executive James Pitts told AM. "Crystal methamphetamine gives you a much longer impact as far as its effect, so they want it again." Mr Pitts says the number of people being admitted for heroin addiction has been
significantly reduced because overseas supply of the drug has been restricted.
"That has a lot to do with some of the interventions by the United States over in Afghanistan, who produces almost 90 per cent of the opium which processes
heroin," he said. "Because of the reduction in heroin availability, that amphetamines have replaced that." Mr Pitts says amphetamines have contributed to a 168 per cent increase since 2003 in the number of people being admitted with a co-existing mental illness. "When people are speeding, they don't sleep, they don't get any rapid eye movement sleep. It causes a lot of hallucinations, certainly some psychotic episodes in cases," he said. "And then when people start to come down, of course, there's a lot of rebound depression. Certainly for people who may be already prone to depressive illnesses or anxiety or more serious mental-health issues, such as schizophrenia, it has a very deleterious effect."
(Courtesy of ABC News)