By Garth Morrison Editor Go SeeAustralia.com.au and GoSeeNewZealand.co.nz
Police say we have a Crystal methamphetamine Ice storm epidemic.
So here is informed advice on how to handle the situation whether travelling or at home.
First and foremost another persons behavior is their responsibility.
Only support an individual if they change their violent behavior.
Being supportive does not mean that you have to be at risk.
It is OK to talk about it.
Get support for yourself, even if the violent individual does not want help.
The words of Martin Luther King offer a resounding direction to what is the best thing to do for all concerned. He said Thus far and no further!
During a frightening, violent situation amid a tirade of threats and curses, which helped me grow, a troubled young man hurled My Ferret Friend at me.
He intended an insult with this relatively gentle abuse, but I am sure he would be surprised to know I take it as a compliment to my professional training.
For myself I am also amused because it brings to mind a joke about Australias greatest Test batsman Sir Donald Bradman.
The story is:
A young woman, who was watching her first Test match, asked Bradman why some batsmen were referred to as Rabbits.
The Don explained that this was because they performed badly with the bat.
Are you a Rabbit? She asked Bradman.
Oh no, said Don Bradman.
I am a Ferret, I go in after the Rabbits!
So here is what this Ferret has learned about dealing with Rabbits from people who know. In one case a father who lost his son to drugs, Family Drug Support CEO TonyTrimingham:
Do not indulge frightening, controlling, violent behaviour stop it with civil process and call police.
The biggest concern with Crystal methamphetamine Ice is aggression and violent behaviour, The Sydney Morning Herald says in a report by Walkley Award winning Health Writer Paula Goodyer.With ice this can be very unpredictable it just comes out of the blue, says Tony Trimingham, CEO of Family Drug Support, which has just produced Walking a Tightrope, a resource to help families and friends avoid drug and alcohol-related violence. http://www.fds.org.au/images/FDS/NCETA_Walking_a_Tightrope.pdf
Our advice is not to get involved in confrontations. You might feel its wrong to back down and walk away, but standing up to someone under the influence of ice isnt an option, he said.
Associate Professor Nicole Lee, of the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction at Flinders University, says: Families of drug users often need support, but especially families of regular ice users, because its a drug that can cause a lot of chaos and be very difficult to live with.
Hospitals tackle only the psychosis, not the drug users dependence. Once they recover from the psychosis, they are discharged and the cycle of using and chaotic behaviour starts again.
When an addict stops using for a week or so there is a window period when they knows they need help and want their old life back, but it is difficult to get public rehab because of waiting lists.
The key Family Drug Support principle is you can never change anyone else no matter how much you want to. What you do have total control over is you, your behaviour and how you respond to situations. The great thing about this is that if you do change yourself it may then provoke change in the other.
Family members firstly need to remember who pays the rent, the mortgage or owns the house.
While giving away power through fear or threats is not effective and will only lead to more chaos and anxiety.
The truth is that the drug user would be at a disadvantage without a place to stay. They usually know this very well, Family Drug Support says.
Although conflicts are frequently seen as a crisis, they may also be seen as an opportunity for positive change.
The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) says:
One of the greatest risks of amphetamine use is drug-induced psychosis. The symptoms are similar to those of schizophrenia. Symptoms of psychosis may appear quickly and last a few hours, days or until the effects of the drug wear off.
The symptoms of psychosis may include:
Paranoia and suspiciousness
Blunted, flat or inappropriate emotions
Social isolation and withdrawal
Severe anxiety and panic attacks
Change in perceptual experiences such as smell, sound or colour
Disorientation and memory problems
Uncontrolled violent behaviour.
These symptoms usually disappear a few days after drug use has stopped. In many cases, mental health intervention is required. However, the user remains vulnerable to further episodes of psychosis if the drug is used again.
Tips for families
Some tips for supporting a loved one with an amphetamine problem are:
Avoid panicking get informed about the effects of amphetamine use. Keep communicating, but avoid pleading or nagging. Dont only talk about the problem choose your moment to express your concern.
Amphetamine use and withdrawal can cause mental health symptoms such asasparanoia and anxiety. The user may need lots of calm, gentle reassurance.
Know what to do in an emergency i.e. overdose or psychotic episode. Have contact numbers readily available. If there is violence, have a safety plan. Being supportive does not mean you have to be at risk. Its okay to talk about it. Get support for yourself, even if they dont want help.
FDS - acknowledgement to National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC)
Improving alcohol and other drug and mental health issues takes time, effort and patience. However, you do not have to live with frightening, controlling and/or violent behaviour.
Another persons behaviour is not your responsibility. Only support them if they change their violent behaviour.
Call the Family Drug Supports Support Line on 1300 368 186. Walking a Tightrope is available on the FDS website www.fds.org.au
Editors note: a by-line on a GoSee story indicates personal opinion.