Schools flag drug tests to combat abuse of ice and other illegal substances

DESPERATE schools have flagged drug-testing their students to try to combat the rampant abuse of ice and other illicit substances.

New figures show the numbers of young people seeking treatment to wean themselves off methamphetamines, including the killer ice, have increased fourfold over five years.

Among the children treated was one aged just 11.

One former teenage ice addict has bravely spoken to the Herald Sun of her own addiction, which almost cost her her life.

Jess said she endured two years of hell after becoming hooked at just 16.

The Herald Sun has been told some schools have made contact with drug and alcohol authorities, asking whether it is legal to drug-test their students and how they can go about doing it.



The Youth Support Advocacy Service, Victoria’s biggest youth drug and alcohol service provider, confirmed that it had been approached by both teachers and parents.

But it does not support testing, for fear abuse will go underground.

“We do get schools inquiring about it, but drug testing isn’t always 100 per cent reliable and evidence shows it’s not particularly effective or useful,’’ said the service’s chief, Paul Bird.

The number of young people seeking help for problems with ice and other methamphetamine-related substances is rising faster than for any other drug including alcohol, a YSAS snapshot reveals.

The number of addicts aged under 23 soared from 75 in 2009-10 to 334 in 2013-14.

The average age of users was 18 — but the organisation has treated an 11-year-old.

Since 2009-10, 49 children aged 10 to 15 received help for methamphetamines, including five aged 13; 224 were aged 16- 17; and 757 were aged 18-21.

The rise is blamed on the increasing availability and purity of crystal meth. Rural communities feel the most pain.

Treatment for heroin use dipped over the same period from 116 to 63.

Cannabis remained the primary drug of concern, rising from 660 clients five years ago to 817 last financial year.

Western suburbs former teen addict Jess has penned a letter to other teenagers warning that ice causes psychosis and had wiped her memory. She said she wasted some of her most precious teenage years either high or in detox.

“Imagine being so paranoid you think your mother is going to kill you?’’ wrote Jess, who didn’t want her surname used.

“The ordeal that I have been through because of ice is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.’’

YSAS has doubled its resources for its residential rehabilitation service, the demand for it being predominantly from ice users.

Mr Bird said early intervention was important. He advocates that Drug and Alcohol Response Teams help schools and sporting clubs.

“The rise in purity of ice in the past two years means that the potential for harm is exacerbated,’’ he said. “And drugs like ice can trigger severe mental health issues right through to violence … it’s up to us … to tackle this.’’