AMPHETAMINE use in the Shoalhaven has quadrupled since 2010, according to one local service provider.
The Salvation Army’s Recovery Service says amphetamine use, including ice, has increased by 415 per cent in four years.
The organisation has assisted 687 clients at its Shoalhaven Recovery Service since 2010, with clinical director Gerard Byrne revealing the service has seen an increase from five per cent of its clients presenting due to amphetamine use in 2010 to 24 per cent of clients in 2014.
“In the past year alone, the percentage of amphetamine users in Shoalhaven has increased by 126 per cent,” Mr Byrne said.
“It is important to note the Shoalhaven program is smaller than other Salvation Army recovery programs, helping between 100 and 200 people a year.”
In 2010, the service helped 131 clients, with six or 4.6 per cent presenting due to amphetamines.
That grew to 10.56 per cent in 2013, with 11 of 105 clients and by November this year that had grown to 23.7 per cent or 27 of 112 clients.
These figures come at a time when amphetamine use is also reportedly increasing across NSW, the ACT and Queensland, with some regions recording 120 and 150 per cent case increases, resulting in increased unpredictable and challenging behaviour.
In Sydney since 2010, there has been a 122 per cent increase of amphetamine users seeking help from the recovery services.
In Canberra, the percentage has almost tripled since 2010 (from 11 per cent of clients to 28 per cent in 2014) and in Brisbane it has increased by 80 per cent since 2010 (from 14 per cent of clients to 24 per cent this year).
The Salvos’ own data (2004 to 2013) shows cases of amphetamine type substance usage are now higher than the overall usage of cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine and gambling dependence combined and the average age of drug, alcohol and gambling users is changing and getting younger all the time.
At the same time Mr Byrne said there had been a 41 per cent decrease in the number of clients presenting with alcohol as a problem, from 66 per cent in 2010 to 40 per cent in 2014 (as at November 17).
“But alcohol remains the highest across the various types of substances in every year across the past four years,” he said.
As the service’s highly successful Bridge Program, which helps people with drug, alcohol and gambling issues, approaches its 50th anniversary, Mr Byrne said they were seeing more mental health problems and mood swings than ever, increasing from 33 per cent of people presenting to the program with mental health issues 30 years ago to 71 per cent today.
“Most of the people who now need help no longer just have issues with alcohol. They are in general polydrug users, using numerous drugs simult-aneously,” he said.
Major David Pullen, head of Salvation Army Recovery Services in eastern Australia, said one of the organisation’s key messages was simple – “There is always hope. Treatment works.”
If you need help, call the Salvo Care Line – available 24/7 – on 1300 36 36 22 or go to salvos.org.au/recovery.