OUR SAY: Playing it hard and fast in Orange the drug scene

IT seems the drug of choice in Orange right now is methamphetamine.

Despite the number of community programs  such as the Magistrates’ Early Referral Into Treatment (MERIT) and Lyndon Community the drug has a devastating effect on users who often find themselves before the courts, not for their drug use, but for the violent crimes they carry out while under the influence of drugs.

Add to that the combination of alcohol which  experts say is common, and there’s no surprise in the latest concerns about use of the drug particularly among young women under the age of 30.

Orange is just a snapshot of what’s happening across Australia according to the experts and a perusal of the Orange Local Court list on any sitting day will also give another interesting trend.

Motor vehicle offences such as speeding, and driving under the influence used to be top of the list, but are now being overtaken by charges for possession of cannabis, and harder drugs such as methamphetamine.

The MERIT program is a godsend for many, and in place of a sentence by the magistrate, users are thrown a lifeline to engage in formal counselling under the guidance of experienced drug and alcohol workers.

It has kept many people out of jail and set them on a new path.

The Lyndon Community withdrawal unit at Orange is a short-stay residential facility designed as an initial detox centre and it too does an amazing job helping people who are often marginalised in our community.

Interestingly however our society still has a way to go in supporting this type of organisation which takes a back seat to other charitable causes which seem to appeal more widely to the public sensibilities with generous donations to improve facilities and services.

A look around the sparsely furnished facility where dedicated workers are trying to make a difference in people’s lives is testament to that.


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