Ice addiction: brother tells of rollercoaster of support
ICE has the power to destroy families and lives.
Journalist LUCY SMITH spoke to one man who has watched his brother's life fall apart because of the addictive drug.
The Daily Mercury chose to keep their identities protected.
WHEN an Airlie Beach man escorted his then 20-year-old brother to the dentist in 2012, he discovered his teeth were riddled like Swiss cheese.
"There were holes in every tooth. The dentist said he would be better off getting dentures than fixing his teeth," said the man.
His brother had already been using ice for years and was about to begin his first stint in rehab.
Three years later, the user is still struggling with addiction and the brother is struggling to maintain their relationship. In 2014 the user moved from his home in south-east Queensland to the brother's house in Airlie Beach.
"He was clean when he moved up here, but when he moved out from where he lived with me, he got back into that world," said the brother.
"It came to a head about month ago, and we had to get him out of our area and back to our parents."
The brother said the user was drawn back into drug use by acquaintances he met in Airlie Beach.
"He got wrapped up with the wrong people, and through being involved with ice, it becomes a pretty bad cycle where they get into debt pretty quick," he said.
The brother estimates the user has spent "upwards of $2000, $3000 a week" on his addiction.
The brother is happy that ice addiction is a national talking point, but he's not impressed with the Federal Government National Ice Taskforce's approach.
"The way the government approaches the drug is totally the wrong way," he said.
He criticised the "Ice destroys lives" television ad, which shows a young man who is dragged through a hospital by police officers and violently attacks people around him.
"That's probably the worst campaign, if you're a young adolescent boy and everything's about body image and being strong and being ripped, if you see an ad where a guy develops superhuman strength smoking ice, it's probably going to push you more to the fact that ice is going to benefit you," he said.
Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash, who is responsible for the Taskforce, defended the ad.
"The extensive market research done before the ad campaign was shot did not raise any issues around men believing ice could improve the appearance of their body," she said.
"I've been careful not to use words like 'superhuman' or 'strength' about ice use in that context - what is shown in the ad is violence and psychosis."
The brother doesn't believe there is such thing as an ice culture.
"I don't think that's the right way to describe it. Ice touches many different people from many different walks of life," he said.
"There's tradespeople, professionals, even young mums are using it to keep themselves alert."
The brother said he was lucky the user hadn't turned violent against his family.
"He hasn't injured anyone, but my dad and him have definitely had altercations," he said.
"It's not so much that (ice) makes them violent, the problem is if something sets them off, and they are violent, they're more capable of hurting people because it can make you up to 10 times more powerful."
The user once worked as a plumber, but the brother believes he is too damaged to work in that position in the foreseeable future.