Teenagers turning away from ice, experts say

Mr Walsh, 20, from Prahran, has spent his teenage years battling an ice addiction. Picture: Selby Stewart

By SELBY STEWART 

Despite public fears of a crime wave, drug and alcohol experts say Australia does not have a teenage ice epidemic, with new data suggesting drug use among teenagers is low and falling. 

Alcohol and Drug Foundation national policy manager Geoff Munro said despite recent media reports that drug crime was soaring, meth-amphetamine use among teenagers had decreased in Australia.

“One of the things we are really keen to make sure everyone understands now, is that drug use among teenagers is about as low as it has ever been,” Mr Munro said.

“You won’t read that on the front page of newspapers and it’s worth asking why because it is good news,” he said.

But Prahran resident Mr Walsh, 20, who asked for his first name not to be used, has spent a total of 3½ years in rehabilitation centers battling an ice addiction.

Mr Walsh disagreed with the ADF’s findings and said children as young as 13 smoking ice were becoming more common in his neighborhood.

“I don’t know where they get those statistics, I see children smoking ice with their parents more and more,” Mr Walsh said.

Also critical of the media, Mr Walsh said there was only one way to get to the truth about ice addiction.

“If they want to know what it is really like, come spend a week with someone who uses it,” he said.

Anglicare case manager Rachel Manly-Waugh, who works with high-risk youths in residential care, said the scale of ice use was often exaggerated in the media.

“You would think by the media that we are in this ice epidemic where kids are going crazy and drug use is the worst it has ever been, but statistically that’s not the case,” Ms Waugh said.

Cracks in The Ice, an online tool-kit that compiles data on meth-amphetamine use in Australia found that ice use had declined in the past five years.

Although it was difficult to determine overall methamphetamine use, there was an obvious decline amongst the general population, the website reported.