Drug action planned

LATROBE Valley service providers are gearing up to mark Drug Action Week this month, amid new data showing a spike in the local use of methamphetamines.

During the week, from 16 to 22 June, Latrobe Community Health Service will spearhead support sessions for families of a person battling alcohol or substance abuse problems, and hold a ‘recovery walk’ supporting recovery from addiction.

Last week LCHS manager drug treatment services Anne Hamden told The Express recent data indicated the number of Gippsland clients presenting to LCHS as a result of ‘ice’ use had doubled since the beginning of last year.

“We are seeing a lot more of it and getting more and more referrals and one of the biggest issues for staff is that while we can get people into counselling, we can’t access detox and withdrawal (facilities) quickly when people need it,” Ms Hamden said, adding this was a serious impediment to a user’s rehabilitation prospects.

A proposed statewide central ‘rehab’ database, aimed at improving access to detox ‘beds’, had not happened yet but would go some way to easing the current problem, Ms Hamden said, though “it’s not going to actually create more spaces, people might just get in quicker”.

Ms Hamden said she believed the easy access to home recipes for ice, and its relative cheap cost, had contributed to the spike in its use in the Valley.

Meanwhile 50 per cent of presentations to LCHS’s drug treatment services were still related to alcohol abuse, she said.

Demand on LCHS as a “forensic service” – with people being referred on court orders to counselling – had increased, but “overall we are able to meet the demand”.

In the lead-up to, and during, Drug Action Week, LCHS planned to “raise the profile for families, carers and support people” who “feel they can’t do much about their loved ones (with substance abuse problems) but they do need support for themselves,” Ms Hamden said.

“We have experienced an increase in demand from those people and we realised it was appropriate to think about the carers.”

To that end, three free sessions will be held for families and carers, in Morwell, on 19 and 20 June.

A ‘Celebrate Recovery Walk’ will also be held on 20 June, leaving LCHS in Morwell at 11am.

It will be followed by a sausage sizzle and talk by author and Associate Professor David Best, whose expertise is in addiction studies.

Ms Hamden said the recovery walk also aimed to “get the community to take responsibility” for helping tackle local drug issues.

“For instance, if they suspect someone is selling drugs or has a (drug) lab, they should report that – people should just do what they can to help,” she said.

To register for the recovery walk, phone 1800 242 696 or email


To reserve a place at support sessions phone 1800 242 696