Photographer B-D-S

Pre-teens becoming hooked on ice, cannabis and booze

SUNSHINE Coast children as young as 12 are becoming hooked on ice, cannabis and booze as the state's drug crisis worsens.

That's the shock claim of drug and alcohol workers operating an outreach service in the region.

The disturbing trend was revealed as the Ted Noffs Foundation Queensland Drug and Alcohol Service opened the book on statistics from its first six months operating from select Queensland Health offices, including the Sunshine Coast.

The service is based at Caboolture but counsellors make regular visits to the Coast.

Ted Noffs Foundation chief operating officer Mark Ferry said the foundation started offering case management and counselling for 12 to 25-year-old Queenslanders late last year.

Help for youths struggling with drug problems was also available over the phone, in person and online.

"One of the big things I think with young people is at different points in time they are motivated to talk about their issues," Mr Ferry said.

"From our experience I think there is a big need for drug and alcohol services for young people across south-east Queensland."

The organisation's work so far had found marijuana, ice and alcohol as the most prolific drugs with the region's youth.

Abuse of inhalants such as glue was also an issue on the Sunshine Coast.

"The thing with inhalant use is it's a fairly easily obtainable drug," Mr Ferry said.

The average age of the service's clients is 18 years and eight months. About 78% are male and 23.8% are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Just over 38% of its clients use cannabis, 33% use amphetamines and 16.3% use alcohol.

Mr Ferry said just over a third of clients had attempted suicide and many others had depression, anxiety and/or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

A lot of people using the service are victims of domestic violence, physical, sexual or verbal abuse, bullying or serious accidents.

"The age of (drug use) onset in a lot of areas is very young.

"Kids are being exposed to cannabis and alcohol at really early ages and that can lead to using drugs like ice."

Mr Ferry said the service was particularly concerned by the number who had tried to take their own lives.

A spokeswoman for Health Minister Cameron Dick said all addicts and users could get help regardless of where they lived.

 

AT A GLANCE

Statistics collected by the Ted Noffs Foundation:

  • Clients are aged 12-25
  • 78% are male
  • 23.8% are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
  • 38% use cannabis
  • 33% use amphetamines
  • 16.3% use alcohol
  • 33.6% have attempted suicide


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