Roundabout Central West’s ICE Not Once Not Ever Seminar hits home

DRUG WARS: Lily Morrison, Praise Kudinha and Kane Mitchell said they've not been offered ice but they're aware of it. CARLA FREEDMAN
DRUG WARS: Lily Morrison, Praise Kudinha and Kane Mitchell said they've not been offered ice but they're aware of it. CARLA FREEDMAN

At his lowest point Jackson Oppy fled the emergency department of a hospital to return to his drug dealers house after an overdose.

He said he was lucky that the pounding on the door moments later was not the police, it was the taxi driver he’d forgotten to pay.

“I wasn’t thinking about him, I was just thinking about getting high again,” he said.

Mr Oppy is a recovered addict and the general manager of a drug rehabilitation centre in Melbourne.

Drug addiction is not your fault, it is an illness, you’re entitled to the best care and it’s not there,

Jackson Oppy

On Monday, he spoke to students from several Orange schools about the trauma methamphetamine, or ice as it is better known, brought him over 10 years.

“It was a decade of destruction,” Mr Oppy said.

“I was in and out of psych wards, I burnt every relationship I had – I was not a good person.”

He said he squirmed while Detective Inspector Bruce Grassick and Orange hospital clinical nurse Sarah Paul spoke about their experiences with ice users in Orange.

An emergency nurse, Ms Paul has witnessed health practitioners physically restrain users experiencing psychosis, a feeling Mr Oppy said he knew well.

“I thought there were people in the trees, I started abusing the trees and almost got arrested when my neighbour thought I was threatening her,” he said.

REHAB WORKER: Jackson Oppy used ice for 15 years before he got the right help to quit, now he is helping others do the same. Photo: CARLA FREEDMAN 0903cfice

REHAB WORKER: Jackson Oppy used ice for 15 years before he got the right help to quit, now he is helping others do the same. Photo: CARLA FREEDMAN 0903cfice

Canobolas Rural Technology High School year 12 student Kane Mitchell was at the Orange Function Centre for the Roundabout Central West’s ICE Not Once Not Ever Seminar.

Kane said while he’s been offered drugs in the past he knows the consequences of addiction outweigh the high.

“It’s not just the individual, it’s everyone around you,” he said.

Sharna Lord from Headspace spoke about what services are available to 12-25 year olds in Orange experiencing drug addiction, including Headspace-coordinated access to a team of practitioners.

Mr Oppy said the service’s six-week wait to see a counsellor was not good enough and implored the audience to demand more.

“That is not a reflection of Headspace, that is an example of inadequate services,” he said.

Pointing out that one in 10 people in the room would experience addiction, Mr Oppy was clear: “We’ve failed these students," he said.

A drug user for 15 years, Mr Oppy told students that they would receive offer after offer to try ice and the safety net is not there when addiction occurs.

“Drug addiction is not your fault, it is an illness, you’re entitled to the best care and it’s not there,” he told the students.

Mr Oppy said the private clinic he works for exists because the public health care system is under funded and under resourced when it came to looking after drug addicts.

“Unfortunately the care for drug addiction is pretty low,” he said.

More than 1000 students from Orange High School, James Sheahan Catholic High School, Molong Central School, Canobolas Rural Technology High School and Orange Anglican Grammar School will attend the seminar on Monday and Tuesday.

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