Valley breaks through the ice epidemic together

THE packed-out, 600-seat auditorium at a Latrobe Valley community ice forum was telling of the seriousness of the ice epidemic in the region.

Concerned community members gathered at Lowanna College auditorium to learn more about crystal methamphetamine, commonly known as ice, on Monday night.

According to opening speaker magistrate Clive Alsop and local police officers present, many Latrobe Valley residents, including upstanding community members, were in the drug’s grip.

“You can live a perfect life, but if you do experience the effects of the drug that can all change,” Moe Senior Sergeant Peter Fusinato said.

Much of the information focused on dealing with loved ones who used ice, including tips on how to handle lapses in rehabilitation and how to create boundaries.

“Most of the people there that had a clear understanding on the impact were on the outside, they were an outsider affected by someone else’s use,” Snr Sgt Fusinato said.

“It got the idea across that the best course of action is to set those boundaries for your own benefit or the benefit of the user.”

A former ice addict and dealer known to the audience as Jimmy told his tale of drug use which began at a young age because his parents were also users.

He told the audience ice was appealing because it was a different kind of high compared to other drugs.

“It’s a cool drug, it’s cooler than the other drugs, the way it smokes up and the ritual of it all,” Jimmy said.

He said his lowest point was when he began tying a rope around his neck and attaching it to a door so his veins would bulge from his neck where he would then inject the drug.

Jimmy said his transition from his “drug life” to a clean life was difficult because it felt like he had nothing in a normal world.

“When you get a call from your dealer saying he’s got the stuff, you feel amazing, you feel like you’re a part of something,” Jimmy said.

As he had “smashed” his moral compass and beliefs, Jimmy said his self-esteem disappeared.

He said it began to return when he tried to get clean and failed repeatedly, which eventually resulted in his recovery.

“It’s like dropping a grain of sand in your backpack, you don’t notice it at first but those grains of sand are like little bits of self-esteem and over a year or so you notice the sand and it’s heavy, you’re carrying around a backpack full of self-esteem,” Jimmy said.

Committee for Moe member and forum part-organiser Tony Flynn said the forum’s organisation by senior sergeants Cameron Blair and Fusinato were signs of the Moe police seeing the need to get in touch with their community.

“There’s been a very different shift about the police in getting involved in the community and the turn out on Monday night shows that,” Mr Flynn said.