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‘Ice’ and ‘hillbilly heroin’ leave their mark

Monday, 10th March, 2014

By Andrew Robertson

A local physician said he “wouldn’t be a bit surprised” to learn that a number of expecting mothers in Broken Hill were addicted to methamphetamine.

The health service has refused to confirm reports that the mother of one recent newborn was a methamphetamine user and that there were another six or more mums-to-be hooked on the destructive drug.

But Dr Steve Flecknoe-Brown said that “everybody in authority” was aware and concerned about the city’s methamphetamine problem.

While describing the problem as being no worse than in many other country towns, and certainly not as bad as in the major cities, the doctor said it was an issue that authorities found difficult to tackle - both from a law enforcement and public health perspective.

“There’s only so much you can do until they are willing to sit down and talk and accept they have a problem,” Dr Flecknoe-Brown said.

But he said it was “just appalling” when an innocent baby was caught up in the drug scourge.

Meth use during pregnancy can affect foetal development and lead to an increase in abnormalities, according to NSW Health.

“We know meth-addicted mothers don’t look after themselves,” Dr Flecknoe-Brown said.

Last year local state MP John Williams told parliament the city was facing a “drug epidemic” and called for tougher penalties for makers and distributors.  

Dr Flecknoe-Brown said it was common knowledge that “Mildura bikies” were responsible for the recent steep increase in meth locally.

“It’s quite a recent phenomenon.

“The police are doing their very best and are having some success.”

A police operation established last year to investigate the large scale distribution of “ice” in and around Mildura has so far resulted in the arrest of nine alleged syndicate members.

While meth appeared to be the current drug of choice, it isn’t the only one facing the community.

Dr Flecknoe-Brown said up until recently OxyContin - a prescription pain reliever - was the “biggest illicit drug problem by far”.

Several readers yesterday also voiced their concern about OxyContin - also known as “Oxy” or “hillbilly heroin” - along with other prescription drugs, on BDT’s Facebook page.

“It’s disgraceful, I actually blame the doctors as they keep prescribing them and I mean I know people that have been getting prescription drugs for years and there’s never any questions asked,” posted ‘Heidi’.

The Far West Local Health Network refused to be drawn on the issue.

“The Far West Local Health District does not publicly comment on patients using our services.

“In line with NSW Health guidelines, we provide management withdrawal to all patients admitted to the hospital who are dependent on drugs and or alcohol.”

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