THE drug ice and the aggressive behaviour that comes with it are having a significant impact on Bass Coast Health and local police resources, according to Bass Coast Health CEO, Veronica Jamison.
After working in the health system for more than 30 years, Mrs Jamison said ice is the worst drug problem she has seen.
“As a worker at the Prahran Mission I used to deal on a regular basis with heroin users and the thing was, those people were relatively passive,” she said.
“Ice really changes behaviours, as in people become violent and aggressive who normally wouldn’t be that way. The unpredictable nature of what happens to people once they become ice-affected is the real cost to the community.
“There’s a fine line between use and abuse which is what worries me with ice.
“I think that moves very quickly to abuse and it’s not just abuse of your own body but abuse of other people.”
Although the local ice problem is not at ‘epidemic’ proportions, Mrs Jamison said the hospital’s emergency department, counselling and community service areas are often dealing with ice-affected patients.
The hospital’s emergency department and mental health services have seen a definite increase in presentations of aggressive patients as a result of the effects of ice.
“We’ve seen a couple of episodes of people overdosing on ice but it hasn’t been huge,” Mrs Jamison said.
“Patients that come in often require security and police to manage their behaviours whilst undergoing treatment and they do pose a risk to our staff, our other patients and themselves.
“The prolonged presence of police at Bass Coast Health in order to manage these patients affects and limits police resourcing to do other things, which is a cost to the community.
“People who have sustained psychosis as a result of using ice; we have to transfer them to other facilities because we can’t deal with them here and again there’s a cost involved in that.”
The fight against illicit drugs continues to rage, and Mrs Jamison said that the sources of all illicit drugs need to be cut off.
She believes that this is where people in the community need to report suspicious activity.
“People who live in a community know what’s usually happening in their neighbourhood,” she said.
“I think if people see cars coming and going and suspicious activity then something needs to be done at that level.
“I have incredible sympathy for people who become addicted to the drug because at the end of the day, someone is making a lot of money out of their misfortune and I think that’s where resources really need to be getting right to the source.
“That’s the only way to stop this and we all know that’s very hard.”