Drug's icy grip on city growing

WIDESPREAD use of the drug ice in Griffith is a growing concern.

Griffith Aboriginal Medical Service alcohol and drugs program manager Sid Barone is worried the city may develop a similar reputation to cities like Fresno in the US.

While Mr Barone believed alcohol and cannabis use was more prevalent, he thinks use of methamphetamines like ice was becoming more common.

"It's not the most popular drug but it's the most damaging. It's destroying their internal organs and is leading to mental illnesses like psychosis and schizophrenia," he said. Mr Barone compared Griffith's problem to the Californian city of Fresno, which has the highest number of crystal meth users per capita in the USA and has been labelled as the ice capital of the world.

However, Griffith Police crime manager Paul Smith played down the claims.

"Ice is a concern as are all prohibited drugs and yes Griffith does have an ice issue however to describe Griffith as the ice capital of NSW is not accurate," Mr Smith said.

"We will act on credible information in relation to the supply of

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prohibited drugs and strongly urge anyone with information to contact crime stoppers on 1800 333 000."

Mr Barone said Griffith residents needed to be better educated about the effects of ice.

"If they (Fresno) had done their research and understood it better and had more information regarding the drug it might have served as ammunition against their fight with ice addiction," he said.

"Our clients who are using or have used ice are suffering immediate destruction," he said.

Mr Barone and his team at the medical centre are taking their message on the road and have been visiting Griffith high schools to educate young people about drugs in the party environment where they might not be under adult supervision.

"If you're considering taking ice, do your study and talk to people who have been using it. Look at their photos online," he said.

Mr Barone said while ice was becoming a huge problem in Griffith, the methamphetamine and many other drugs were having devastating effects in communities right across Australia.

His concerns come as the city's Community Drug Action Team (CDAT) calls for more members.

Member and city councillor Pat Cox encouraged people to join.

"We invite residents who wish to support the team in informing the community and facilitating programs to address the misuse of drugs and alcohol and make the Griffith community safer and healthier to contact us for information about joining," Cr Cox said.

For more information contact the council on 6962 8100.

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