The gripping Four Corners show on ‘ice’ amphetamine last Monday gave a valuable assessment of the role of this drug in Australia. Twice as many Australians are now addicted to ice as heroin.
While use of heroin in Australia fell following the so-called 'heroin drought' of 2001, some of this fall represents substitution towards stimulants such as ice and to a less extent cocaine and other stimulants. This is clearly not the whole story since increased use of these dangerous stimulants began before the ‘drought’ but it is part of the story.
Heroin use used to cause lots of overdose deaths. Now these deaths have fallen but large numbers of ice users are being admitted to general and psychiatric hospitals with stimulant-induced psychoses. The extent of the damage was clear from the Four Corners show.
My colleague Lee Smith pointed out to me that extended interviews from the show are available here, the show itself is here, while the program transcript is here. A report co-written by myself and Lee Smith on the heroin drought and the role of substitute drugs will be released shortly.
Update: Online resources on ice are catalogued by the Four Corners team here.