Ice fight: rehab services, family support, more testing promised to ‘stop the hurt’

At least 15 rehabilitation beds will be established in country South Australia as the state government aims to stop the hurt caused by the drug ice.

On Thursday, Premier Jay Weatherill announced more than $8 million worth of spending intended to curb crystal methamphetamine use, especially in regional areas such as Murray Bridge.

A lack of rehab services was the number-one concern of a former addict and the parents of a current addict who spoke to government ministers at a forum in the rural city in March.

No decision has yet been made about which towns will get the rehab beds, or whether they should be located in hospitals, alongside other services or elsewhere.

That will be up to local clinicians and an analysis of the needs of different parts of the state.

Police Minister Peter Malinauskas said he had been "overwhelmed" by the obvious need.

"It was quite eye-opening to hear how indiscriminate the drug is," he said.

"When you have these loving, committed parents come along at a complete loss about what to do with their child, it's quite moving.

"They want to be able to assist their child but don't have the resources or the knowledge to do that."

For that reason, state funding of the non-profit organisation Family Drug Support will be doubled.

"A government bureaucracy will never be able to help someone get off addiction as well as a loving guardian or parent," Mr Malinauskas said.

Among the government's other promises were $287,000 for better drug-testing capabilities for country police and $600,000 for education and prevention strategies that could be rolled out through local sporting clubs.

Mr Malinauskas said the introduction of Tru Narc machines in each local service area (LSA) would allow police to instantly test a substance to determine whether it was illegal or not, instead of having to send samples to Adelaide for analysis.

The Murray Mallee LSA's headquarters are in Murray Bridge.

The federal government is also acting to reduce ice use.

It promised $5.1 million for rehabilitation of ice users in country SA before the last election.

The Murray Mallee General Practice Network was chosen as one of the recipients of that funding last October.

Mr Malinauskas said the state government's approach was intended as more of a quick strike than a long-term solution.

"A lot of people in the sector are a bit taskforced-out," he said.

"The groups on the ground were advocating for treatment now."

File photo.

File photo.

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