Amphetamines, Pervitin, Methamphetamine/Ice

by Steven Guth


This section is the third of three on the issue of drugs, their effects on consciousness and the issues they present for Society.  The first, “Human Beings, Nature Spirits, Mushrooms and LSD”, was written over 30 years ago. It is written in the ‘New Age’ style that was in vogue in the 1980’s.  The second, “LSD, hallucinogenic revolution that never was” discusses the discovery of LSD and considers the affect the chemical has on the consciousness and the behavior of people who have ‘tripped’ earlier in life.  The third “Amphetamines, Pervitin, Methamphetamine/Ice” describes the terrifying affect that Amphetamines and Methamphetamines have on consciousness, the brain and the body of users. It makes a point that these modern chemicals are on their way to destroying Australian Society. 


Please read this article as Poetry. It is an assembly of pieces ordered for effect. The full horror of the developing methamphetamine situation in Australia defies logical, sequential assembly.             I have included links to my references.

[A pdf of this article is here for downloading]

Drugs can and do affect consciousness. That’s why people take everything from a simple Aspirin (for pain reduction) to Methamphetamine (for an amazing stela high). Drugs also structure society. In the previous section I discussed how LSD could have altered Western Societies. I was there in ’67 and, given my background in Social Psychology, I’ve given the LSD breakthrough some thought. I’ve been investigating Amphetamines and am horrified at their potential for social destruction. I should rephrase that, “I am horrified at the way Methamphetamine (Meth) is starting to destroy Society.” Australia and New Zealand have the highest Meth usage rates in the world.

Amphetamines, and the new powerful derivative Meth (‘Ice’ in Australian slang; ‘P’ in New Zealand) are once again on their way to causing social revolution. Why do I say “again”?

I can’t help matching events that occurred in 1944 and in April 2015. I’ve just watched a video of a white American policeman firing 8 bullets into the back of a Black American – apparently his anti-social offence was to drive a car with a broken taillight. Was the policeman immoralized and brutalized by amphetamine? As an individual or as a byproduct of American society? to events in 1944, Germany Wewelsburg, Reichsfuhrer Himmler’s esoteric castle. It was a YMCA hostel in 2008 when I lay in bed reading about the laborers who remodeled the building. Largely Russian and Polish they lived in a nearby slave camp – the Nazis called them KZ’s, Concentration Camps. Occasionally, just for fun a guard would summon a sleeping inmate, strip him naked and push him out into the winter snow. Using a fire hose the prisoner would be wetted down, a procedure that continued until the prisoner froze to death. This was inevitably done in the early morning hours and why? Because the guard, high on the Nazi amphetamine issue – Pervitin - thought it was fun. His mates, undoubtly also high on Pervitin and schnapps, cheered him on.


Victim, Woodcut by Gertrud Blecke, 1982

These pictures are part of a cycle of woodcuts made by the Paderborn artist Gertrud Blecke after the impressions she gained visiting the permanent exhibition "Wewelsburg 1933 – 1945.

The picture "Victim" (note the dark shape in the foreground) draws its strength from the dramatic character of the victim-perpetrator relationship. The composition of the picture, the contours of the figures, the dark-and-light contrasts and the rich nuances in the use of different woodcutting techniques illustrate an essential point: no matter how much all the different aspects of camp organisation and command converged, with an almost technical efficiency, at the death of an inmate, for each dead inmate there was a murderer personally responsible - perhaps not by law, but certainly morally - for his death.


The image and the cut above comes from

the German Museum  booklet


You see, Pervitin destroyed Nazi Germany, it made immoral brutalization normal, even fun. It made running the death camps and the decisions that led to them possible. It pushed soldiers to fight to their death as they froze on the outskirts of Moscow.

In Germany by 1944 amphetamine was everywhere. Known as the ‘energy vitamin’ it was even chocolate bars and the sausages that fuelled the huge Nazi rallies. Hitler was a daily user, by 1942 (after about 4 years of continual use) he was drugged Zombie. By 1945, he was a dead man walking. All this is well documented by David Irvine in his exhaustive ,,, page “Hitler” book and confirmed by other recent historians.

My Jewish father escaped from Nazi Austria before the war – eventually coming to Australia as a refugee. My Austrian mother (she was Ayran and Catholic) arrived in Australia In 1939 using a Nazi passport. For much of my Iife I puzzled over the non-sequencersa of our essentially Churchillian view of the event (History will be kind to me because I will write the first English version) To resolve my unease I decided to spend 8 months in Germany and write a book about it. “Message Stone, the Quest” was published in German by Araki in 2012. A free English eBook PDF version is on the web at  From my research it became clear that the use of amphetamines is one of the hidden truths behind Nazi history, it’s never openly discussed, but it explains much. Now, 70 years later are we, in Australia and New Zealand, heading in the same direction? Afraid so!

The newest from of amphetamine – pure little crystals of methamphetamine – is considerably more viscous than the ubiquitous German Pervitin. The weaker forms of amphetamine are common in our Society, for example, amphetamine (Ritalin is one of the brand names) is prescribed to children disinterested in class room activates. I estimate that between 1 to 2% of Australian school kids get daily doses of this drug.


Some Medical background

Before the 2nd World War it was thought that Amphetamines simply added to the body’s natural adrenalin and so give people a useful stimulus. By 1946 it became evident that Amphetamines seriously affected consciousness causing violent behavior, depression, defective thought processing, paranoia, dental decay and of course addiction.

Research into what Amphetamines do to people is ongoing and still anything but totally resolved. The whole business is highly complex. Below I present a simple but through and informative statement from olutions/meth_and_the_brain.html

During activity that is not necessarily important for survival, the average person has a dopamine level of about 100 units in the limbic system, which is the reward center of the brain. Seeking food is important to survival, so the VTA creates a nice pleasant feeling of contentment in response to eating by increasing dopamine levels to 150. From a biological standpoint, propagation of the species is crucial to survival, so the pleasant feeling after sex is the result of even higher level of 240 for dopamine. Cocaine creates an even greater euphoria than sex by increasing dopamine levels to 350, which is outside of normal biological values.

Your body can’t create levels this high without drugs. Meth increases dopamine levels to 1250, which creates a euphoria that dwarfs all of the others. So it is not hard to see how eventually behaviors that don’t result in meth use become extinct, and drug seeking and using behaviors become the only things that motivate an individual.

Having the motivational system overwhelmed eventually results in motivational toxicity, where rewards that would normally motivate a person cease to be effective because methamphetamine has directly stimulated the reward system and has conditioned meth use over all other survival instincts. This is why meth addicts will choose their drug over family, career and health.

And here is another simple academic explanation, from

… Studies in chronic methamphetamine abusers have also revealed severe structural and functional changes in areas of the brain associated with emotion and memory,

Dr. James A. Peck, a clinical psychologist who specializes in addiction, offers the following lesson in brain chemistry: “Crystal meth forces dopamine and norepinephrine to be blasted through the brain, so when you stop using meth, there’s a definite effect on your brain, which creates a severe, chronic depression. The jury is still out as to whether it is permanent ... Peck has seen cases where the damage has been permanent. “Part of this has to do with what these drugs are composed of,” he says. “Meth is cooked up from a bunch of toxic chemicals.”

So pleasure without Meth can become impossible, a condition of terrible deep, never ending depression takes over the personality. The only cures are more Meth or, in many but not all cases, time without a relapse. There are drug rehabilitation programs, fetching called “Cognitive Behavior Therapy” these focus on acknowledging the horror of the depressive feelings and work at developing a positive mental attitude. Usually after 2 years after withdrawal the body reestablishes its dopamine production. The months long detox and the tiny number of treatment beds means that currently, and in the foreseeable future, Meth rehabilitation programs are a little more than a futile exercise in political correctness.

The results of treatment are pretty unsatisfactory. The annotated cut below comes from

Most meth addicts relapse within three years of seeking treatment, according to a new study from Australia.  Those who attend residential rehab reportedly have an 88% rate of relapse. The study, published in the journal Addiction, looked at long-term meth use.

There are private and public rehab treatment centers. The private ones are fabulously expensive – tens of thousands per month. The places available for the poor and desperate focus on alcohol rehabilitation and are run by the Salvation Army. My wild guess is that Australia wide, there are less than a hundred dedicated public beds available for the poor and desperate Meth ’ addicted. One reason, cost – $5 million a year to run a juvenile 15 bed rehabilitation unit. (The Age, April 8, 2015). Currently, the ACT Government is building an 8 bed unit in a secluded rural location for $8.5. Match these costs to the size of the problem, a probable 350,000 Meth users - according to the 20th Oct 2014 ABC Four Corners program. (Some put the figure higher at half a million Australians - 2.5% of the population) Another quote of interest from the same program … Interviewer CARO, “…there’s a desperate lack of treatment facilities. It’s a disaster waiting to happen, what do you foresee in five years?  DARREN, “… the utter devastation of small rural communities where we are going to have lot of mental health issues, a lot of criminal activity et cetera, et cetera. It’s going to be a nightmare.”  

It is difficult to gather meaningful social statistics at the best of times. It is even more difficult in the case of drugs. Most national statistics are based on sampled door knock interviews. Imagine an interview, “Hallo, I’m working for … here insert one of the following (the Health Department, Thompson and Tompson, the church of God, or whatever). Have you used Cannabis, Ecstasy, MDMA, Heroin, Cocaine, LSD in the last ten years? In the last year?” What sort of response are you going to get? “Why, yes, thanks for asking – you are with the police aren’t you – me? Use an illegal drug? No never.”

The amazing thing is that 35% of people over 14 years say they have used Cannabis, while 20% say they have used amphetamine based substances, 7% admit to Cocaine use and 9% have used some hallucinogen like LSD. Heroin use comes in with just over 1%. By comparison 78% of people said they had consumed one or more alcoholic drinks in the last year and 24% said they are daily tobacco smokers. (Figures from the 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey).

Does this mean that total Australian illegal drug use is 35% + 20% + 7% + 9% +1% = 72% of the population? No, some individuals will have tried virtually everything, others have used just one drug.

Common sense and anecdotal evidence suggests that they are huge differences between population groups, Bikies are likely to be bigger amphetamine users than, say school teachers. Interestingly, reports indicate that Meth is being increasingly used by the professional middle class. Some urban suburbs are jammed with dealers, others are relatively dealer free. It appears that many country towns are experiencing large, and increasing, Amphetamine use issues. The ABC’s 4 corners in 20thOctober 2014 named Ballarat, Mildura and the small town of St Arnaud as hive centers of Meth distribution and use. They suggested that of St Arnaud’s 3,500 people 10% are hooked on Meth. I’m told that in a small town near where I live, the Police had a purge on ‘backyard’ home grown Marijuana and now a reaping the whirlwinds of increased Amphetamine and Meth use – with their far worse social costs. In a similar way, over the last 15 years, Police alcohol breath testing has resulted in the destruction of the Australia’s historical pub culture and opened the side door for illicit drug sales. 

This may be a good point to point out another factor that makes amphetamine use attractive. It shares with alcohol a short residual time in the body. With a simple urine test Cannabis can be detected a month after use. Alcohol fades within hours, Amphetamines taken on Friday will be indictable by Monday morning.

...and where will it end? Can anything be done?

To answer the second question first, just below my introductory paragraph is an annotated cut from a Japanese web site …893

The interesting point is that it was not until the Japanese realized the dimension of the problem and finally made a deep and integrated attack against the Meth problem that things began to come under control. In Australia this would mean that the Commonwealth would need to override the states and create some sort of ‘task force’ to attack many aspects of the Meth issue at the same time. From customs enforcement to stop the inflow of Chinese Meth to integrated Police actions give even the small dealers a hard time. None of this will be easy. I feel that treatment for the existing Meth addicted – although undoubly a social necessity – is not a realistic solution. The numbers involved – about a quarter million addicted users - the high costs of therapy and the doubtful 3 years on results suggests that there is no solution in this direction.

Japan and Meth  – put your foot down and control is possible.

From 893

…Following the Second World War, Japan had three big problems:

Luckily, the second two problems could be fixed by the first problem – How lucky! Dainippon Pharmaceuticals (aka Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma, maybe you’ve heard of it) had a lot of Philopon (the Japanese form of Amphetamine issued to soldiers) to sell, and there certainly was a demand, too.

First of all, lots of soldiers were probably addicted to the stuff, meaning they could (legally) keep taking it once they got home. Second, a lot of industrial workers needed to stay awake for long periods of time. Philopon gave them that extra kick they needed to work those long shifts. One other nice side effect of meth is that you stop being hungry. With a shortage of food and a surplus of philopon, these two things went nicely together. Plus, you eventually lose all your teeth so why would you want to eat anything anyways? Win-win.

Really, anyone and their grandmother could get the stuff, and because not a lot of research had been done, people didn’t understand the implications of a nation on meth until a bit later. By then, though, it was kind of an epidemic.

In 1946, we start to see the first reported cases of psychosis due to meth in Japan (as well as around the world). By 1948, people started to figure out that meth wasn’t a good idea, so Japan banned its use in tablet or powdered form. This left injection, which is actually much worse for you in the long term. Hospitalizations increased and drug-related crimes increased. Obviously it was time to put a stop to all this.

In 1951, the Japanese Ministry of Health banned meth in Japan, causing an overproduction of the stuff once again (yay, cheap meth!). Also, labs just began to move overseas. Despite this, 55,000 people were arrested in 1955 for drug-related crimes.

After 1955, however, a few things changed. The Japanese government created a huge campaign against substance abuse. Also, began to prohibit the raw materials usually used to make meth from being imported into the country and meth labs started getting raided. Really, this is when Japan put its foot down, and although crystal meth is still the most popular drug in Japan today, it has tapered off quite a bit to a steady 12,000 arrests per year.

Crystal meth, unsurprisingly, is the most commonly used illegal drug in Japan. 80% of drug-related arrests in Japan have involved methamphetamine. Half the meth-related arrests in Japan were also related to the yakuza and other organized crime (if you go, tell them “Koichi Four-Fingers” referred you for a discount). It’s used by all kinds of people too. Those skinny Japanese school girls gotta stay skinny, you know?

I’m sure Japan would love a zero on the board when it comes to drugs, but when you compare these numbers to other countries (or even the Japan of 50 years ago), you have yourself a fairly small problem. I will say, though, that I think that marijuana will probably overtake crystal meth for the number one spot. Crystal meth has been holding steady at 12,000ish for quite a while now, but marijuana has been on the rise. Despite Japan’s long history with meth, there’ll be a new king soon. And, if I had to choose, I’d rather have to deal with pot over meth any day.



The China connection


This Pile of Meth from China is worth (according to (from where the picture comes) 342 million pounds sterling. That’s over A$600 million, no wonder the Australian Federal Policemen look proud, concerned and protective. It was caught coming into Australia.


And where did it come from? Two annotated extracts below …


The cut below is from

The increased addiction/dependence potential for ice as the purest form of the drug is also evident. A great proportion – 25% of regular ice users – are using at least weekly. This is a much higher rate than the 2.2% of regular powder users who use weekly.

Increased demand for the higher purity of ice results in Australian users in particular being prepared to pay premium prices for this form of the drug. Figures suggest that the Australian price per kilogram of crystal methylamphetamine is A$320,000, whereas in the United States it is A$100,000. In China, a country flagged by the ACC report as a key player in transnational organised drug crime, the cost is as low as A $7000 per kilogram.

ACC data indicates that detections of clandestine laboratories decreased by approximately 6% in 2012-13. The weight of precursor material being detected at the border has also decreased, despite the number of detections increasing.

Conversely, the weight and amount of amphetamine-type substance (ATS) detections at the Australian border, in particular detections of ice, continue to increase. This suggests that the outstanding threat is increasingly coming from abroad. Small-time Australian players are growing reliant on transnational crime groups.

And for more background, the cuts below come from …

AUSTRALIA is awash with methamphetamine — and it’s coming from a relatively small district in the south of China. The area responsible is the Lufeng District and sits on the southern Chinese border, just 200km east of Hong Kong. The heart of the area is Lufeng’s industrial city of 1.7 million people but aside from the Dinosaur Valley Museum, a slew of lively restaurants and the temperate weather, there is not much to attract tourists.

Which is probably a good thing because hidden beyond the smoke and bustle of the city, are some of China’s most prolific drug manufacturers.

Certain villages in the area have become so notorious for illegal activity that residents reportedly stand guard with AK-47s and handmade grenades, in order to protect their illegal business.

Last month police conducted what was the latest drug-related raid in the area, seizing 2.4 tonnes of methamphetamine from a village known locally as “the fortress.”

The problem is unlikely to be eradicated any time soon.

Those controlling the trade in the area only need a single shipment to be a success to turn a giant profit.

The black arrow shows the location of Lufeng, in the Guangdong province of southern ChinaChina has a huge pharmaceutical industry which is allowing the illicit drug trade to flourish. The precursors required to make the stimulant are commonly used in the pharmaceutical industry and according to Mr. Douglas, they are being diverted from their intended purpose to those operating illegal labs.

Last week, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) released their annual report and called the expansion of illicit amphetamine-type stimulants “the biggest concern in East and Southeast Asia.”

Due to its price and accessibility, methamphetamine has taken on a new form of popularity in Australia. The drug is even gaining a growing number of middle class users.


“Why is China letting its citizen’s flood Australia, and New Zealand, with Meth?”


You can say corruption. The huge, huge profits involved give surpluses that can buy everyone in the manufacturing, shipping and distribution chain. OK, but I suspect it is more than that.

I suspect it is a plot by the Chinese equivalent of the CIA to render Australia and New Zealand a social disaster. It certainly looks like a ploy that has a good chance of succeeding.

You can’t tell me that the Chinese Government cannot overcome a “the residents of a village in Lufeng who  guard their illegal drug factory with AK-47s and handmade grenades.“ (see quote from the article above). Or stop the precursor chemicals from reaching the drug factories.  No, there is not the will to do anything.

The Chinese had an interesting lesson in how drugs can destroy a Society during and after the Opium Wars.

Before the 1949 revolution ….


There were 70 million junkies in China -- addicted to opium, morphine and heroin. Half-starving laborers used the sweet opium dreams to cover the pain of hunger and hopelessness. And the lazy rich used drugs to fill up their empty hours. In some areas everyone even children, smoked opium. In the cities, tiny bottles of drugs were sold on the street corners like ice cream. People got high on the job.


The people of old China suffered terribly from this drug addiction. Many poor people used their pennies on the pipe instead of food. Addicts often abandoned their children or even SOLD their children to buy more drugs. Addicted women were often forced to become prostitutes and many died of diseases.


Even early on, the Chinese Government was aware of the problem. In 1810 the Emperor issued the imperial edict below. Of course it wasn’t of much use. From

Opium has a harm. Opium is a poison, undermining our good customs and morality. Its use is prohibited by law. Now the commoner, Yang, dares to bring it into the Forbidden City. Indeed, he flouts the law! However, recently the purchasers, eaters, and consumers of opium have become numerous. Deceitful merchants buy and sell it to gain profit. The customs house at the Ch’ung-wen Gate was originally set up to supervise the collection of imports (it had no responsibility with regard to opium smuggling). If we confine our search for opium to the seaports, we fear the search will not be sufficiently thorough. We should also order the general commandant of the police and police- censors at the five gates to prohibit opium and to search for it at all gates. If they capture any violators, they should immediately punish them and should destroy the opium at once. As to Kwangtung and Fukien, the provinces from which opium comes, we order their viceroys, governors, and superintendents of the maritime customs to conduct a thorough search for opium, and cut off its supply. They should in no ways consider this order a dead letter and allow opium to be smuggled out!

The imperial decree had little effect. The Qing government, far away in Beijing in the north of China, was unable to halt opium smuggling in the southern provinces. A porous Chinese border and rampant local demand facilitated the trade.

The Emperor’s decree quoted above, reminds one of like the political posturing made by Australian Politicians – and about as useful.

The Chinese saw it all as Imperial aggression dressed up as a way to restore Trade imbalances between China and its trading partners. Consider these two cartoons …
And if you are in any doubt as to the effects of opium here is another picture. It reminds me of the terrifying “Before and After” pictures of Meth users that are placed as warnings on the web.


meth addict

Meth user images from

And how did the Chinese overcome the problem?



The Mao Zedong government is generally credited with eradicating both consumption and production of opium during the 1950s using unrestrained repression and Social Reform[..Ten million addicts were forced into compulsory treatment, dealers were executed, and opium-producing regions were planted with new crops. Remaining opium production shifted south of the Chinese border into the Golden Triangle region, at times with the involvement of Western intelligence agencies. The remnant opium trade primarily served Southeast Asia, but spread to American soldiers during the Vietnam War, with 20% of soldiers regarding themselves as addicted during the peak of the epidemic in 1971. In 2003, China was estimated to have four million regular drug users and one million registered drug addicts.




Firstly a terrifying transcript. It comes from the ABC’s Four Corners TV program. It presents a brief journey into the horrors Kym’s life – a Meth addict …

The second is a press release on the Government’s planned Meth task force.


Meth is really horrible stuff, it f**ks you up real bad.


The below is a slightly annotated extract from a transcript from the ABC four corners program

“Ice Rush, 20th October 2014”

 … In 2006 Four Corners showed 'The Ice Age' - a confronting and deeply unsettling look at how the drug known as ice or crystal meth was destroying the lives of hard-core inner city drug users.

The program generated a huge reaction but the only thing that's changed in eight years is that it is now far worse. Ice is now widespread in country towns and rural communities as well, right around the nation and it's incredibly destructive. It's estimated that almost 350,000 Australians smoked, snorted or injected crystal methamphetamine in the past year.

Interviewer Caro Meldrum-Hanna and her video crew followed the trail of Ice destruction through regional Victoria and Tasmania.

 … CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: The spread of ice hasn't stopped in Devonport. It's crept through towns dotted along the coastline into the city of Burnie.

A 15 minute drive away is Serenity House, a two week time out facility where addicts come to withdraw before going to rehab.

JANETTE JENSEN: At the moment we've got three people who are recovering from ice use. Welcome to Serenity House.

CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: There are seven beds at Serenity House. Yet only two of them are funded by the government and only for alcohol.

JANETTE JENSEN: We take people that the police send, a place of safety and this is our funded - these two beds are funded, but the five beds upstairs are not.

CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: It's a damning indictment for Tasmania, a state in the grip of a sudden ice scourge.

In addition to being the only one of its kind for the whole state, Serenity House is also desperately under-funded.

JANETTE JENSEN: We are really under-resourced, we are really under-resourced. I can get four phone calls in a day and have to knock people back. I am known for putting a sixth person on the sofa upstairs for a couple of days you know while we get an empty bed. I'd do that rather than knock someone back who was in real crisis.

CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: At 10 am, Janette takes the residents of Serenity House to group therapy at The Bridge in Burnie - a drug and alcohol treatment program. It's where we meet Kym. Later all of us went to Kym’s housing commission home which she shares with her daughter, Aloysia.

KYM: With me I have a... like a good Kym and a bad Kym (laughs) sitting on either shoulder and they have these fights. And it goes on all day! It's weird.

JANETTE JENSEN: What I've seen ice do to her brings me to tears. Brings me to tears to see her.

KYM: This drug is addictive. Very, very addictive. I don't care what anyone says. And people reckon you can't hang out for it. Oh yes you can, believe me.

CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: Right now are you hanging out for it; do you need some more?

KYM: I'm starting to, yeah. Starting to get a bit agitated.

ALOYSIA: Take your cuppa tea for starters.

KYM: Ah yeah, thank you!

CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: It's 10am. And Kym is getting ready for the day.

KYM: After a certain amount of days you start picking at your skin and it starts off like this but then it ends up like the whole side of your face peeling away.

CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: Kym's 55-years-old. Her skin is starting to break out. She's been using meth for three days straight.

She's trying to put her earrings on.

KYM: Ah, good on ya. It's the worst thing getting the shakes and I can't do anything (laughs). I don't know what effect this is going to have on my family but I don't care really. I'm trying to help younger people. Hey?

CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: Kym wants to show us the devastating effects of long-term meth use. She's been using for six years, up to a gram a day.

Kym is shaking and twitching uncontrollably.

Meth targets the central nervous system.

CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: Why are you putting a straw in your tea, Kym?

KYM: Because I can't drink it without spilling it.

CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: You're shaking too much?

KYM: Yeah.

CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: Why are you shaking so much?

KYM: It's because of the gear. It's because of the gear. Mmm. Much better (laughs).

CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: Last night she was hallucinating, talking to people that weren't there. She woke up covered in her own vomit.

CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: Did that scare you?

KYM: No. I know I've got brain damage. If I hadn't known I had brain damage it would scare me. But now I know what's wrong and it doesn't scare me. It's always in the knowing, isn't it?

CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: Kym's a recovered heroin and morphine addict and a recovered alcoholic. The longest stint she's ever been totally clean is 18 months.

Kym shows us her arms scarred by years of self-harm, track marks, and ice sores.

KYM: And that's where I've been picking at myself.

CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: Why are you picking at yourself?

KYM: Because I think there is things there. Like pimples or blackheads or something.


KYM: No (laughs) there's not. It's just what speed and methamphetamine do to you. Like talking to people that aren't there when you're coming off, you know.

CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: As the afternoon wears on, Kym gets more and more agitated.

KYM: No one tells me what to fucking do.

ALOYSIA: (inaudible) No, I'll give you a little bit. Just don't want you wasting it.

KYM: I'm not gonna!

CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: She texts her dealer who responds almost immediately.

KYM: Fuck! Two seconds! Two seconds oh-ho! All right I'll be back in a minute. See youse!

ALOYSIA: See ya mamma.

CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: Kym won't let us meet her dealer. She returns minutes later.

KYM: Because I owed heaps of money. And I said "Oh Aren't I a good girl? I cleared my debt on Wednesday!"

He said, "You fuckin idiot, today's Wednesday!" (laughter) Oh no, I'm losing me mind.

CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: Kym's shaking too much to mix it for herself.

KYM: Aloysia.

CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: She asks her daughter to do it for her.

Today it looks like she's scored meth a cut down version of ice.

KYM: Oh jeez smells like petrol.

CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: She puts her glasses on. And inserts the needle in her arm.

KYM: Fuckin hell. Mmm (begins to get angry)

CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: She can't find a vein. So Kym tries her hand.

KYM: Stings a bit. Fucking hell. I can taste it. Yeah, weird. Phew. Just give me a minute. My hearing has gone loud. I can hear... yeah everything's loud.

CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: Kym will now spend the rest of the day at home. A calmness has come over her. She's also stopped shaking.

CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: Meth makes the time go quickly. It also speeds up the ageing process.

(to Kym) Do you still have all your teeth?

KYM: No. They're false.

CARO MELDRUM-HANNA: High on meth, Kym used to picked at her teeth and gums with a pin.

(Kym removes dentures)

Infected, they all had to be removed.

KYM: (Laughs) Ice does this. Some... well yes, ice does this. Sometimes it doesn't give you the get up and go in your body, but it gives you the get up and go in your brain. So you'll sit there because you don't feel energetic but your brain is going round, round, round, round, round. So you do all this weird shit like pick your teeth, pick your face. Pick holes in your arms, you know…

National Ice Taskforce

Prime Minister Tony Abbott will announce a new taskforce to tackle ice use in Australia.Tony Abbott will open up a new front on Wednesday in the nation's gathering war against the pernicious scourge of the drug ice, said to be rampaging through communities and destroying lives at a colossal rate.

Former Victoria Police commissioner Ken Lay has been selected to head up a new "National Ice Taskforce" and will work closely with the Prime Minister, federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan and Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash to bring state and territory authorities together.

Former Victoria Police chief commissioner Ken Lay. (Photo: Eddie Jim)

The aim is for the combined governments to develop a "National Ice Action Strategy" and to collate an interim report to be handed to Mr Abbott as soon as the middle of this year.

"The taskforce will be led by Ken Lay APM, who was chief commissioner of Victoria Police from 2011 until very recently," Mr Abbott said in a statement.

"The overall purpose of the taskforce will be to examine all existing efforts to address ice and identify ways to take a systematic, comprehensive and coordinated approach to education, health and law enforcement.

"Governments at all levels are taking steps to address ice but these efforts need to be targeted, efficient and effective.

"While these initiatives are being rolled out at the local, state and territory level, there is a role for the Commonwealth government to assist in coordinating and assessing their effectiveness in addressing the ice epidemic."

Former Victoria Police chief commissioner Ken Lay.Fairfax Media recently reported on the scale of the problem of ice - also known as "crystal meth" and as "methamphetamine" - quoting Mr Keenan as saying "our nation's addiction to this mind-eating, personality distorting, life-ending drug" was undermining the social fabric in some communities.

Ice is regarded by health and law enforcement authorities as the highest risk drug to Australian society with heavy users becoming unstable, erratic, explosively violent, and succumbing to major mental and other health problems.

The situation is particularly bad in some regional areas where high rates of joblessness and limited life opportunities locally leave young people more open to its potentially deadly lure.

Among the worrying trends for police and health authorities is the growing tendency to multiple substance consumption - sometimes referred to as "poly-drug use" - including the consumption of ice.

According to a major Australian Crime Commission report released in March, as many as 1.3 million Australians have tried methamphetamine in its crystalline or powdered forms, known as ice and speed respectively. This level of use is among the highest in the world.

The report also said that 60 per cent of Australia's high risk criminals are involved in the methamphetamine market.

The street price of methamphetamine in Australia is almost US$500 per gram, compared to China where it is US$80. 


And a final comment by the author of this article on Meth in Australia

I have seen numerous journalistic comments about the “Task Force” all suggest that rehabilitation is a better answer than criminalising Meth use. I agree about the criminalising part, it is morally wrong, expensive and useless. But, unless new and far better treatment/rehabilitations systems are found, rehabilitation – at an absurdly high cost and a 88% failure rate – is not an answer. The Japanese seems to brought their Meth problem under control – it would be interesting discover what they did in addition to what they made public knowledge. I hope the “Tasks Force” gets a Japanese interpreter, finds its way into the shadowy side of Japanese culture and asks the right questions. It’s not going to be easy.