Getting the lives of young people fighting drug addiction back on track is the focus of a new treatment program in the Illawarra.
The Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District’s (ISLHD) Stimulant Treatment Program (STP) was officially launched by Assistant Minister for Health Pru Goward in Wollongong on Wednesday.
The program, worth $2 million over four years, helps ice users get treatment early and fight drug addiction.
“This is a great new program ... with a very special emphasis on young people because we need to break the cycle of addiction early,” Ms Goward said.
“We know if we can intervene early we have a better chance of stopping the damage, stopping the permanent brain damage, stopping the wrecking of lives and the incredible impact that all has on families.
“This is a stimulant treatment program that will combine a lot of therapy, a lot of counselling with good physical health check-ups … and, if necessary, access to alternative drugs, pharmacology, that will help with the withdrawal from such an addictive ice agent.”
The ISLHD provides more than 5000 episodes of care for drug and alcohol problems every year. In 2014-2015, more than 20 per cent of those cases identified amphetamines or cocaine as a drug of concern.
Parliamentary secretary for the Illawarra Gareth Ward said the STP was one way to respond to a “sharp rise in ice use and associated crime”.
“There are several responses government needs to provide; we have seen major efforts from police to target the pushers of drugs - to target those developing and selling drugs,” he said.
“On the other side of the equation we need to be ensuring we pick up the pieces and assist people who have become vulnerable and make sure services like these are available and accessible.”
The Illawarra program received one of the larger government investments of any region, a move Mr Ward described as “absolutely critical”.
“This doesn’t just affect one member, it affects the whole family,” he said. “We need to do everything we can to get support to people and turn their lives around.”
The STP will operate Monday to Friday from the Illawarra Drug and Alcohol Service in Wollongong and from Crossroads Youth Health Service in Nowra on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
For more information, or an appointment, call the Illawarra Shoalhaven Drug and Alcohol Helpline: 1300 652 226.