Gympie doctor leads national campaign against ice

DRUG DANGER: Gympie Hospital’s Dr Stephen Priestley is fronting a Federal campaign against the lethal drug, ice.
DRUG DANGER: Gympie Hospital’s Dr Stephen Priestley is fronting a Federal campaign against the lethal drug, ice.

A GYMPIE doctor's disaster story of the region's ice epidemic forms the front line of Tony Abbott's national campaign against "the most dangerous illegal drug we have ever seen".

Worryingly, he bases his concern on what he sees during regular shifts at the Gympie Hospital Emergency Department.

Stephen Priestley is regional director of emergency medicine for Gympie's Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service.

Amphetamine use is not growing in Australia, he says, but the disastrous side effects for individuals, families and the community are immensely worse with the drug's availability in the high-potency form of ice, or crystal meth.

The  white powder drug commonly known as "speed" is nothing new in Australia and nor are the health dangers, violence and social breakdown associated with it.

But the often diluted amphetamine product, which has been bad enough, is relatively survivable, it seems.

Ice is something else again, Stephen Priestley says.

He warns the highly purified smokable form of the drug delivers a massive high-dosage brain shock, an instant Dr Jekyll to Mr Hyde personality change.

He says his observations indicate the crystal form of the drug takes psychosis, irrational violence and self harm to a whole new level.

And that is what is happening in Gympie, he says.

"The effect on the brain is very sudden, with feelings of paranoia, aggression... and the potential for violence, including random violence, is much greater.

"It's not an uncommon picture - they can have incredible stamina, strength and can be completely out of touch with reality.

"The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare says data shows the number of people using methamphetamine has not actually increased, but within that group, they are using more ice, the most potent form of the drug.

"There's been a shift from what was called 'speed,' the powder form amphetamine, to the much more potent form of crystals, known as ice.

"We are seeing an increase in the use of ice crystals, which are smoked and absorbed very quickly through the lungs into the blood stream.

"It is very potent and dangerous and powerfully addictive. The effect on the brain is sudden and people using it can be prone to feelings of paranoia, aggression and violence, including random violence.

"It is not uncommon for people to feel incredible stamina and strength and they can be completely out of touch with reality.

"Sometimes we need to restrain people and sedate them, but we don't know what other drugs they've taken.

"Emergency department staff do not always have time for full blood tests."

Ice facts

What is it?

Methamphetamine was first synthesised in Japan in 1919. Synthesised from ephedra plant with other chemicals including those used in drain cleaner, rust neutraliser and anti-freeze.


No good ones apparently - high doses were given to Kamikaze pilots before suicide missions, found to result in unfocused aggression in soldiers.

Bad effects:

Inability to sleep, instant addiction, paranoia, aggression and violence, including random violence.

Gympie Times

Topics:  drugs ice politics tony abbott

Pauline Hanson sets her sights on Gympie

POLITICAL OPERATOR: One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson visited Gympie today.

Gympie can expect a One Nation candidate at the next state election.

Dreamworld deaths 'followed' funeral directors on holiday

Thunder River Rapids ride was next on their list to do

Council staff have the right to feel safe at work: Mayor

Mayor explains why the council took action against a Facebook page

Local Partners

Gympie Jazz and Wine on Wishlist for 2017

After a rousing success at this year's Jazz and Wine Festival, organisers are eyeing August next year for the next one.

Racer seeks Bright future in fight against breast cancer

Sheree Bright takes a corner on Sheeza Instant Gem.

Gympie's Sheree Bright will be racing to raise funds for cancer.

Help make a difference at this weekend's Relay for Life

FILE PHOTO: Another Relay for Life event in Queensland last month.

More than 850 people to walk in Gympie to support cancer sufferers

Rush Festival gets the crowd warmed up

ROCKING OUT: 28 Days rocks out in Nelson Reserve on Sunday night as part of the Rush Festival concert in the park.

Things heated up on stage on a cold Gympie night for the Rush Fest

Steve Irwin's final days through dad's eyes

Bob Irwin with his son Steve.

'You never expect that’s the last time you’re going to see your son'

Kristie doesn't mind being the third wheel in Survivor final

Kristie Bennett in a scene from Australian Survivor.

SOLO player will take on Survivor's power couple Lee and El tonight.

Scary hoping Posh and Sporty will re-join The Spice Girls

Mel B

Mel B hoping Victoria Beckham, Mel C will re-join The Spice Girls

REVIEW: Michael McIntyre has Brisbane in stitches

Michael McIntyre in a scene from his TV series Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow.

BRITISH comedian is in the country on his Happy and Glorious Tour.

Cliff Richard doesn't need Rod Stewart's help with legal bills

Sir Cliff Richard

"'Don't worry, I'm loaded. I won't keep you to it.' "

Look at me! Kath and Kim home up for sale

Kath and Kim from the iconic Aussie TV series.

'Crack open the Baileys and grab a box of BBQ Shapes'

How to fit 100,000 new homes on the Coast

Property, real estate, housing, suburb,  August 2016

Fitting 2m extra people in south-east Qld in 25 years a balance

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals