It’s tragic enough to hear of young women’s lives being ruined by ice addiction. But what happens when they have children depending on them for their every need?
It’s cheap, it’s widely available, it can keep you awake for days on end. And some Australian mums are now reportedly taking it just to make time to fulfil their parenting duties.
The problem is, the substance in question — crystal methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth or ice – causes devastating long-term mental and physical health problems.
Turning Point’s clinical director Dr Matthew Frei told Mamamia the highly addictive drug could be “quite an appealing drug” to young mothers.
“I see young women or women in their middle years who have children and who are most definitely using ice to deal with the day-to-day duties with the kids or deal with the kids and go to work as well,” he said.
The Melbourne-based counsellor added: “The mothers feel by smoking ice it keeps them awake for longer to do all the things they feel they need to do.”
The reports follow Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash’s statement to Federal Parliament last week that Australian mothers were taking the drug to fulfil their motherly duties.
“We are talking about… housewives who are indeed taking this to be supermum,” Ms Nash said, citing information from the National Taskforce tackling the Australia’s ice epidemic.
Far from making women “supermums,” however, the drug has a devastating effect on users, with Nagle telling news.com.au that over a period of time, ice-using mothers “end up crashing and burning and wrecking everything.”
Dr Frei agreed, telling Mamamia that “the dose that might be kind of ‘useful’ is very hard to keep to, which is why people don’t use very small amount of this drug and get things done, they often use increasing amounts and get into all sots of strife”.
“It’s a drug that in high doses and prolonged use causes behavioural changes so families are likely to… find their family member very difficult to live with and deal with on a day-to-day basis. It has a lot of effects on mood, on anxiety, on – tends to make people a bit suspicious and ancious and paranoid,” he said.
“And that’s not going into the issues of its cost and the fact that it has to be purchased through illicit drug dealers and all those sorts of ways that it would affect your lifestyle and the way you interact with your family.”
Long-term use of ice can cause mental health problems including psychotic episodes. It can also cause brain damage, destroying the brain’s ability to naturally produce dopamine.
Pregnant women who take ice pose particular harms to their unborn babies. While there’s no conclusive evidence yet of the impact of the drug in utero, AAP reports that symptoms of foetal ice syndrome have been compared to those of foetal alcohol syndrome, which can leave babies with permanent hearing, vision, memory and attention span problems.
Some studies have also suggested that pregnant women’s use of ice may be associated with a possible increase of oral cleft and limb defects.
Dr Ross Wilson told AAP pregnant women’s use of ice had been associated with stillbirth resulting from the separation of the placenta from the foetus.
“If the ice use is frequent in the first 16 weeks of the pregnancy you are going to see quite significant malformations,” Ross Wilson told AAP.
It’s estimated that almost 350,000 Australians took ice in the last year, and that ice grew from five per cent of of detected illicit drug imports to Australia in 2011, to 59 per cent in 2014.
If you need help, phone DayHab on 1800 329 422.
What do you think can be done about the growing number of Australian women and mums using ice?