An investigation of Ice use in Australia?

19 Sep

The problem with government anti- drug campaigns or media sensationalism of the drug issue are double- fold. First, they often tune up the undesirable side effects of these recreational drug use, which inevitably generates a certain amount of skepticism, not to mention disinformation. Such amplified scare tactics unfortunately, play up distorted fear and cover up the root problems associated with drug addiction.

With Scattered, Malcolm Knox, clarified at the start of his investigation that the stories featured in his book belong only to a minority of ice users who resorted to violent crimes; and opined that there is more likely a silent majority of users, who would soon ‘grow up’ and stop using the drug.

That Malcolm’s story is worth reading comes from the fact that he  does not sought to pervert the underlying issues of ice use and addiction. His narrative provides that much needed much more balanced approach, sorely lacking in contemporary drug literature.

Invariably, politics, has much to do with the rapid spread of ice use in Australia as he discovers. As the Howard government announced triumphantly its crackdown on heroin use, producers and addicted intravenous drug users, had no choice, but turn to a cheaper and higher fix – methamphetamine. Incidentally, its easy production methods created copy cats cooks and home laboratories. Unlike heroin, it is also faces less social stigma among new users as it is usually smoked rather than injected.

Another contribution of Knox’s story to the debate  (besides the brief social and medicinal history of ice) are the inferences he made. While he is careful not to establish a causal relationship between the rise of incidence of violent crimes with ice psychosis, he did  strongly suggest that some users are induced to produce auditory and visual hallucinations, paranoia, losing their ability of control, becoming sexually aroused, becoming less inhibitive and even a propensity to turn violent. This is evident from the mostly high profile crime stories that he profiled.

There is no quick fix or easy solution to drug issues such as ice addiction or ice-related crimes but at the very least, a more rational approach towards understanding them (and its relation to other societal issues such as dysfunctional families) can provide a basis for building up a more cohesive picture.

This is perhaps best shown in his portrayal of the couple, Vicki and Mark, who remain relatively unscathed characters, though they did undergo some familial troubles due to ice addiction. Luckily for them, they ‘grew out’ of it. Not surprisingly, they both belonged to a higher socio-economic strata with a better support network as compared to the other figures in Knox’s stories.


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