Drug users in the Orana region are being urged to consider reaching out for help by the boss of one of Australia’s leading not-for-profit organisations in the drug and alcohol sector.
Garth Popple, executive director of We Help Ourselves (WHOS), said treatment is available and effective and can prevent people going to prison.
WHOS works on the front line with amphetamines, cannabis, heroin, alcohol and other drugs and has helped 40,000 people since it was launched in 1972.
Mr Popple called for more funding to be made available to help fight the rise of the drug methamphetamine, also known as ice.
Ice use has been increasing in Dubbo and the far west, with police from Orana Local Area Command running a Dob in a Dealer campaign earlier this year to try and interrupt its supply.
Despite the belief in some quarters that treatment options for amphetamines were unavailable or limited, Mr Popple said it wasn’t the case.
However he warned that it did take a lot of resources and said programs like WHOS needed more funding badly to allow them tackle the problem.
“Ice dependence – for instance – can be a highly complex issue. In many cases, occasional or weekly counselling sessions will not be enough,” he said.
“People with more severe levels of dependence and other issues such as mental health problems, homelessness and family dysfunction require far more intensive support and assistance.
“This is best provided by the therapeutic community network which provides 24-hour care and assistance.”
Mr Popple said there was a social and economic benefit to treating drug addictions.
He said the latest figures showed the average cost per prisoner sat at $305 per day compared to $120 a day to fund a drug-free program bed.
“Getting people into treatment programs with residential help is always going to be better than putting people behind bars,” he said.
“Treating people with alcohol and other drug problems can lead to a reduction of re-offending rates, as well as a reduction of overall law enforcement and justice costs.”