Tweed breaking the ice on drug issues
EXPERTS have no idea just how addicted the Tweed is to the drug ice.
They're hoping a forum in March on the highly destructive drug crystal methamphetamine - better known as ice - will help shed light on the extent of the problem in the region.
The NSW Government, in conjunction with the Australian Drug Foundation, last week announced a series of forums aimed at tackling the state's growing problem, with Tweed Heads and Wollongong the first areas confirmed to host the important talks.
The news came as Tweed Police on Thursday arrested a man after uncovering a clandestine drug lab, believed to have been used to manufacture the narcotic, at Bilambil Heights.
He is expected to face drug-related charges at Tweed Heads Local Court on March 7.
North Coast Health Network's Crystal Methamphetamine Project senior officer Sam Booker, who will be a panellist at the drug forum, hoped it would shed light on the extent of ice use in the Tweed.
"We don't really know (how bad it is) to be honest, and I suppose the forum is going to be the beginning of other discussions," said Ms Booker, whose project was launched last October.
"We know that nationwide 2% of people have reported using methamphetamine.
"Fifty per cent of those people report using crystal methamphetamine.
"When that substance is affecting an individual, it's also affecting a family and a community, so it does have the potential for significant harm."
Ms Booker said she hoped the discussions would help change perceptions and secure much-needed help for addicts.
"There's a lot of barriers for people using crystal meth to access support," Ms Booker said.
"We're trying to deal with the stigma and shame that can come with using an illicit substance. It's important that we try not to stigmatise people who need our help and are asking for support.
"People can recover from using meth and I think sometimes that's a message that's being lost."
ADF NSW Community Programs manager Nikki Woolley said the forum would leave communities with practical tools to deal with the issue.
"This is a community problem which has a community solution," she said.
The Tweed Heads forum will be at Tweed Civic Centre on Thursday, March 10 from 6-8.30pm. More info: adf.org.au/breakingtheice.
How bad is Tweed's ice scourge? Email letters@ tweeddailynews.com.au.