Raising drug awareness in Lake Grace
Drugs were once seen as a big-city problem but they are now a very big issue in regional areas too, including Lake Grace and surrounds in WA. Local police and ambulance crews frequently have to deal with violence, paranoia and self-harm due to the use of methamphetamine, cannabis, steroids and party pills. Mixed with alcohol, they can be a volatile cocktail.
The mental health, employment and financial consequences that come with drug use are amplified in smaller country towns, as there is no anonymity and only occasional support available. Drug-affected families also face shame, denial and few avenues for assistance.
To support their community, Lake Grace Community Resource Centre (CRC) has facilitated a number of drug awareness and information sessions and been instrumental in setting up a Local Drug Action Group. They used $3,180 from FRRR's Small Grants for Rural Communities program, supported by the John T Reid Charitable Trusts, to have Peter Lyndon-James address their community.
Peter runs a rehabilitation program that is described as Australia’s toughest and most successful rehab facility. He spoke for three hours about his personal journey with drug addiction, providing advice to friends and family of addicts on recognising the symptoms of drug use and abuse, and how to avoid "the enabling trap" while still supporting loved ones on the path to rehabilitation.
More than 60 people (ranging from 18-90) attended the event, some traveling from Albany, Newdegate, Kukerin and Lake King.
Lake Grace CRC Manager Suzanne Reeves said that addiction is a health crisis, not just a criminal activity, and many people in their community have limited knowledge of drug rehabilitation centres and what they do.
"Our greatest challenge is that many think that drug education isn't necessary for them and that addiction doesn't affect them. Our objective is to assist everyone in our Shire to become more drug aware and know the steps that they can take to combat this problem within their family and/or friendship circle and the workplace.
"We need people to realise that drugs aren't just someone else's problem, and that they should be proactive, rather than reactive, in garnering education and information.