Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist August 2016 Contents Australian Pharmacist August 2016 I © Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has been explicit in its message on
prevention: it works. Our purpose at the Alcohol and Drug Foundation
(ADF) is to prevent harm caused by alcohol and other drugs in Australia.
We have been working in this space for
more than 50 years – which means we
have seen all the drug trends one can
imagine. New drugs come, old ones
go, and then there are the drugs which
make a comeback, like heroin is doing
right now. In witnessing the harms
associated with these drugs, we know
the drug crystal methamphetamine or
‘ice’, has caused much harm to many
people who use it as well as to their
families, loved ones, friends, emergency
workers and helpers, and even strangers.
The facts about ice
I think it’s important we talk the truth
about ice. Most people who use ice
use it less than weekly and are not
dependent on it. However, people who
regularly use ice (daily) can quickly
Not all who use ice are aggressive, in fact
only a small percentage are. The number
of Australians using methamphetamines
isn’t large. But among users of these
drugs, the stronger form (ice) is growing
in popularity in comparison to the less
strong form (speed). This is because
of the increased availability of higher
purity methamphetamine in Australia.
Which explains why more harm is being
experienced for the person using the
drug, and for the community around
The opportunity for pharmacists
As a health professional, it is extremely
important to understand what ice
actually is, what it does, how to interact
with someone who’s having a bad
reaction to ice and most importantly,
how to offer them help. As a pharmacist,
you have a unique opportunity to
talk to the people who may be drug-
dependent on a day-to-day basis. As a
trusted professional, you are also in a
unique position to support family and
friends of those affected.
We struggle to find suitable settings
for intervention with people in trouble
with a drug. Pharmacists are perfectly
positioned to offer assistance.
An empathic approach
If users of ice approach you for advice
on how to cope, it’s important you
are across the possible solutions –
remembering that not one size fits all.
By visiting our DrugInfo website, you
will find all of the treatment options
and these organisations’ contact details
under the ‘help and support tab’.
We understand that it can be
intimidating to deal with customers
when they are affected by ice. The most
important thing to do, is to remain
calm, keep your voice low and steady.
Be supportive. Tell them that they will
be okay, and that what they’re feeling
Pharmacists – uniquely positioned to
deal with ice
BY JOHN ROGERSON CEO OF THE ALCOHOL AND DRUG FOUNDATION
» BE OUR GUEST
will pass when the ‘ice’ wears off. Listen
to them and respond with calming
comments. This isn’t a time to argue.
It’s normal to feel helpless, frustrated,
anxious and upset when you know
or meet someone who is using ‘ice’.
It can be particularly hard when the
person is not ready to admit there is a
problem. It’s helpful to remember the
person using ice is the only person who
can change their behaviour. What you
can control is how you deal with the
situation. What information can you
give someone dependent on ice? What
support can you give someone whose
loved one is using ice?
Tools to help you
We have created resources that put you
in the best possible position to help your
customer, and to support their family
and friends. We’ve created a brochure,
Ice – A Guide for Family and Friends which
can guide you in this situation and
which can be passed onto customers.
Copies can be ordered through the
All of your questions can be answered
by visiting: www.druginfo.adf.org.au/
the-truth-about-ice For information on
other drugs visit: www.druginfo.adf.org.
Here at the ADF, we strongly believe
that in order to reduce Australia’s
serious drug problem, we need to start
doing things differently. We need to
start seeing the person, not the drug.
Pharmacists are an important part of the
solution, and working together we can
make a big difference.
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