A RADICAL idea to create an “ice room” in Sydney could be the key to improving Australia’s ice epidemic.
Author of Breaking the Ice, Matt Noffs, and Australian drug expert Dr Alex Wodak want to create a medically supervised room for ice smokers to get high in Sydney.
The experts told ABC’s 7.30 on Wednesday night drug users needed somewhere to get high that was safer for both them and the community.
The idea has been researched, with the experts visiting a drug consumption room in Bern in Switzerland, which has been there for 30 years.
7.30 reports Dr Wodak believed a medically supervised smoking room would also make it easier to get addicts into treatment.
The experts believed Australia had a 1980s mindset while the rest of the world was moving on.
“We need inhalation rooms in Australia for the same reason the Europeans do,” Dr Wodak told 7.30.
There’s also a drug inhalation room in Frankfurt in Germany, which is full of clients taking cocaine and heroin under supervision.
Mr Noffs told 7.30 when he walked into one of the drug consumption rooms in Europe, he felt the idea was commonplace and now, with the help of Dr Wodak, is looking to bring one to Australia.
Noffs is aiming to get police on side and former Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Palmer acknowledged more needed to be done.
“There is a wide recognition among law enforcement colleagues, including young officers as well as more experienced ones, the current arrangements aren’t achieving the outcomes we would like to achieve,” Mr Palmer told 7.30.
“In many ways, it is badly broken.”
Mr Noffs and Dr Wodak think Sydney’s west could benefit from an ice inhalation room and thought Liverpool could be the place to establish it.
But Liverpool Chamber of Commerce president Harry Hunt was concerned about the proposal.
“Having an ice room in Liverpool is going to project an image of Liverpool as the drug capital of the southwest. We don’t want that sort of image,” he told 7.30.
The ice room has been controversial but experts believe the injection room set up in Kings Cross, which led to a drop in the number of people dying from heroin, was proof the radical plan could work.
The Kings Cross injection room has also been supervising addicts who inject ice, not inhale, and addictions expert Dr Robert Graham said staff never encountered a violent episode or aggression they couldn’t talk down.
The NSW Government however told 7.30 it would not back plans for an ice inhalation room but Mr Noffs and Dr Wodak plan to move ahead with it anyway.
When asked if they would do it even if they were going to get arrested, Dr Wodak said they preferred if authorities gave them permission, but if they didn’t, they would still like to go ahead.
7.30 asked ice addicts if they would use an ice inhalation room if it were established and many said no.
“If anything, I would be hidden away smoking it in my own little place, you know, away from everybody,” one said.
Another addict said people weren’t going to put their hands up to travel to a supervised place to smoke ice.
“That is never going to happen,” he said.
While it’s a controversial idea, Mr Noffs said they wanted to be realistic.
“If we know someone will be dependent on a drug, you would rather them inhale than inject,” he told 7.30.