Yes, these are uncomfortable, challenging conversations. However, we must get real, start learning, and talking about the reality of ice-fuelled violence in Australia.
Today, Dana Vulin from Perth bravely spoke out about being doused in methylated spirits and set alight by a woman who thought she was having an affair with her husband.
She was left with significant injuries and received burns to 60 per cent of her body. The woman was sentenced to 17 years in prison in 2015.
In an extract from her new book, Vulin describes the night her life changed forever.
She explains her attacker, Natalie, “ranted and raved”. Vulin writes, “At that point, Natalie noticed the glass candle on my dining room table. She snatched it up… She held it tight, lit it, and then whipped out a glass crack pipe and used the candle to start heating up a rock of crystal meth. I couldn’t believe it. As the sharp, chemical smell filled up my apartment, it occurred to me that this was the behaviour of a proper ice addict. She’d probably been high every time she’d called me. It would explain her irrational behaviour, her paranoia, her threats.”
The only thing that’s predictable about ice-fuelled violence is that it’s unpredictable.
Chloe*, a former addict tells Mamamia, “Sometimes I’d get high for days at a time. Days would roll into each other; I’d totally lose all track of time. You kind of float in a fog of rage and paranoia. You’re just on a mission. When you’re on ice you’re in a different world. Paranoia becomes your reality.”
Professor Gordian Fulde is the Director of Emergency at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney. He’s a long-time advocate speaking out against the scourge of ice and alcohol violence that triggers a sea of men and women pouring into Australian hospitals each weekend. “The most horrible thing about crystal meth and these sorts of things, cocaine too, is that somebody could be nearly okay, eye contact, talking to you and within a nano-second, they can go absolutely crazy,” he says.
According to National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) almost 270,000 Australians are regular users of ice. That’s one in 100 addicted. Use has increased in the last five years and is highest among people under 34.
Fulde says most people present at hospital with paranoia and agitation. “Our experience says there’s more people taking ice and it’s going up,” he says. “The reality is it’s everywhere. Rural, city, the house next to you. Ice is the most profitable drug there is. Its effects are devastating.”
Ice, along with speed and base, is a form of methamphetamine. Ice is the purest form and comes in powder or crystals that are snorted, injected or smoked.
“I started off dropping it into my drink,” says Chloe. “Then I started smoking it because you feel it quicker. It’s highly addictive. I was hooked very quickly. Your heart races, you’re flushing, sometimes I was sick but that didn’t stop me chasing the high. I’ve seen people overdose and have seizures. It doesn’t take long after it’s passed around before everyone gets anxious. Coming down off it is hard; I got panic attacks, which is why some addicts keep going for days.”
“Yes, it makes you aggressive. I turned into a different person on ice. Paranoia comes first, and then you lash out. A couple that are on ice together, of course it often gets vicious and violence. You turn into a totally different person. I loved my boyfriend very much – that didn’t stop me smashing up the house in an ice-fuelled rage. I turned into a monster. Then I hated myself. I didn’t tell anyone, who wants to admit that? It’s hideous. I have friends in jail and others who’ve lost their kids because they got hooked. Believe me, you don’t want to go there.”
David Caldicott, an Emergency Consultant at the Calvary Hospital in Canberra tells ABC that the impact ice has means professionals are dealing with a “double-whammy” of physical and psychological effects.
Ice-fuelled violence is, unfortunately, part of our new reality. It’s absolutely crucial that we put the gender blame game to one side and start acknowledging the affects that substances can have.
We’re not actually helping anyone – especially other women trying to pretend this is not an issue.
Dana Vulin’s new book Worth Fighting For, is available from August 28.
Corrine is a freelance writer who’s passionate about personal responsibility, find her on Facebook here.
* Name has been changed to protect identity.