I know from my extensive work with people with drug and alcohol problems in Sydney, the drug ice can have severe consequences. It is becoming more prominent here - particularly in disadvantaged communities - and is responsible for a lot of heartache and broken lives.
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione is right to say the community needs to work with law enforcement agencies to try to combat the use of methamphetamines. But all social problems need to be dealt with in a manner proportional to the threat they present to the community and illicit drugs are no different.
I think ice is like any illegal drug and it is best approached with a view to minimising individual and social harm caused by dependency, and focusing on treatment. To balance things out a bit, I'd like to do two things: firstly, I'd like to strongly advise anyone experimenting with any illicit substance to avoid injecting it. Injecting drugs is a far riskier and potentially more addictive means of ingesting any substance. The best way to take ice is NOT AT ALL, but if you're going to try it then for God's sake please don't inject it.
Secondly, I asked a friend who has used ice recreationally in the past to write about it. This is not to show that ice is okay, or to contradict the point of view that drug dependency has disastrous outcomes (news flash: it does). But I'd like to curb the tendency of the public debate towards hysteria that only results in draconian and, in my opinion, ineffective drug enforcement policy. In order to protect the identity of the author, we have ensured the following is a dry and factual account of of one person's experience with ice. Please don't try it.
"I don't think I've ever met what you'd call a "real drug dealer". There was one guy in my group of friends who would generally have enough to go around. We'd give him $20 or so in order to smoke some of his stuff. I think he probably ended up getting the short end of the stick, although we tried to make sure he wasn't paying for everyone.
By the time I tried ice, my friends and I had all been taking other class A drugs for a few years. Speed, ecstasy and cocaine (mostly speed and ecstasy, since no one really had enough money for cocaine). As far as I know, no one in my immediate group of friends used heroin. I never did.
We all smoked or snorted our drugs. I've never been around people injecting drugs. I doubt I would try it if I was as I find the idea pretty gross. Taking ice was basically the same as taking speed but a lot stronger. You got a stronger high and it lasted longer.
The effects were more or less the same though: you had a lot of energy (which was good because we used to like going out to dance clubs, sometimes a couple of days in a row), and generally we had quite a lot of fun hanging out together.
Conversations were strange but funny. I took a video one night and watched it the next day. I think we all thought we were funnier at the time than we actually were.
The one thing I remember being very different about ice versus speed or ecstasy (or cocaine) was that I would often really feel like another hit the day afterwards. It definitely felt more addictive than the other class A drugs I'd taken.
All in all, I took ice about 10 times over the course of about 12 months. I was always up for whatever was going around at a party. I never dated anyone who was seriously dependent on any one drug. Perhaps that's why I never got into serious trouble.
Out of my group of about 15 or 20 friends who I know used ice (among other recreational drugs), there was one who developed what I'd call "problems" with ice. He held a job and eventually stopped using, but there was definitely a point where he was not in control of his usage and in danger of going to a darker place.
Thankfully that hasn't happened to anyone I've been close to. I steer clear of all drugs and alcohol these days. They are self destructive and are gateways to risky behaviour.
I'm glad my experimentation with drugs didn't have any lasting consequences and I now lead a normal, healthy life. I hate to think what could have happened during that time if I'd become seriously dependent or wound up in jail.
Drugs can be pretty fun but in the end they're also pretty stupid. There are much better ways to have fun."
Matt Noffs is CEO of the Ted Noffs Foundation and the co-founder of The Street Universities.