No-one can deny that drug use, and ice use in particular, is at a crisis level in Murray Bridge and other Murraylands towns.
This is not a problem particular to our region, or to any one neighbourhood, despite what some might say about Birdsville or Murray Park.
It is present in almost every street, in every corner of our community, and we all have a responsibility to help stamp it out.
Ice use endangers the lives of users, their family members, friends and colleagues, health workers and police officers.
To silence a needling voice that can never be silenced, users too often spend their money on a habit and live in squalor, or force their kids to go without, or turn to theft.
An analysis of waste water found the rate of ice use in Adelaide was eight in every 100 people; in rural SA it may be higher still.
It has to stop.
This columnist suspects that rehabilitation, not prison, is the best answer for the people at the bottom of the pyramid.
Liberal, Labor, SA Best – each has its own exact approach, but there appears to be a general consensus that users must be saved from the whirlpool and supported as they try to restart their lives.
For the dealers – the people who not only endorse the destruction and suffering ice causes, but who actually seek to profit from it – there must be no escape.
The problem, though, is the threat of retribution to those who do the right thing.
Authorities can appeal until their throats are hoarse for people to dob in a dealer or send a tip to Crime Stoppers.
But until people feel they can do so safely, it may all be for nought.
Because while the politicians – yes, and the journalists – are asleep in their beds, after the police patrols have left, the woman who has reported an ice house down the street may lie awake, waiting for the crash of broken glass or the shout of someone off his face at 3am
Unless people know that dealers or users are likely to be taken away on sight, whether to rehab or a cell, that threat will remain.
And another thing
Thanks to the many, many readers who have improved my botanical knowledge following February 14’s column.
Caltrop, tribulus terrestris, is the weed I had pictured; three-corner jack, emex australis, is separate species.