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News (Media Awareness Project) - Australia: Drugs Craze Warning
Title:Australia: Drugs Craze Warning
Published On:2011-12-31
Source:Newcastle Herald (Australia)
Fetched On:2011-12-31 06:00:30

HEALTH experts and police have warned about a harder sort of illicit
drug being used in the Hunter during the summer party season.

As party-goers head out for New Year's Eve, authorities have voiced
concern about growth in an altered form of "ecstasy" called MDA, a
rise in the methamphetamine "ice" and the re-emergence of LSD.

Wesley Mission Newcastle drugs counsellor Amala White said that in the
past three months there had been more capsules of MDA
(methylenedioxyamphetamine) on Newcastle's streets after the
previously preferred ecstasy tablets became harder to get.

There had been an alarming increase in "ice", with users as young as
14 injecting or smoking the drug.

Both ecstasy and ice belong to a stimulant drug class known as
amphetamines, but ice is stronger.

Mr White said hallucinogen LSD was also making a comeback after first
being prominent in the 1960s.

"But ice has taken over as the number one drug of choice," he said.
Wesley Newcastle deals with more than 1000 young people a year.

With more resources, the charity would could cope with

Mr White said some young people were graduating from party pills such
as ecstasy to ice after being

encouraged by friends and dealers to trade up due to the ecstasy

Other chose "ice" and amphetamine pastes and pills over alcohol
because for $25 to $60 they could get high for up to 12 hours.

Mr White said many users consumed drugs before going out to avoid
police detection.

His views are backed by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and
Research, which found amphetamine possession offences in the Hunter
went up from 222 to 271 between October 2009 and September 2011.
Ecstasy went down from 72 offences to 39.

The latest National Drug Strategy Household Survey said the use of
hallucinogens, such as LSD, had increased 0.6 to 1.4per cent, while
ecstasy use decreased.

Newcastle acting crime manager Inspector Matthew Moroney said there
had been "a lot of arrests" for amphetamine possession and supply.

He said police classified MDA, ecstasy, "ice" and similar drugs all as
amphetamines because every batch found had different

"A lot of stuff sold as ecstasy isn't actually ecstasy," he said,
adding that "ice" had been on the increase since it came into the area
in recent years.

While there had been few high-profile Hunter drug lab raids this year,
police said recent raids in Sydney would have an impact.

"We're proactive in our approach and conduct a lot of operations," Mr
Moroney said. Theories as to why capsules were overtaking tablets
include that they could be broken and snorted, rubbed on gums, mixed
with water and injected, do not need a pill press and could help avoid
sniffer dogs.

Calvary Mater Hospital clinical toxicologist Dr Geoff Isbister said
they saw comparatively few drug users in the emergency department but
it was not a reflection of illicit drug usage in the community, which
was high.

Dr Isbister said the drug most seen in emergency departments was

He estimated about two-thirds of patients restrained for staff safety
were drunk.
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