Police in Toowoomba and Warwick, with narcotics dogs at their sides, conducted a passive sting operation that resulted in several notices to appear in court on charges of drug possession. The combined effort on Saturday saw officers paying very surprise visits indeed to licensed operations in Allora, Warwick, and Toowoomba.
Darren Tamblyn, detective sergeant at the Warwick Criminal Investigation Branch, said that while they found several people in possession of drugs, the wider public appreciated their efforts to crack down on drugs. “A number of people were given notice to appear for possession of cannabis and ice across Warwick and Toowoomba,” Tamblyn said.
“We had intelligence that suggested people may be using drugs at licensed premises,” he explained. “In general, the feedback we have had from the public has been good.” The discovery of ice at these licensed facilities is of particular and grave concern, and Tamblyn reiterated that heavy police presence in the area would make those using drugs think twice about doing it.
“People will have that in the back of their mind when they go out next,” Tamblyn warned. “There will definitely be more of these conducted in the future.” Cannabis is a medicinal plant that governments are fast legalizing worldwide for its therapeutic potential. Ice, on the other hand, is but one form of the powerful stimulant narcotic, methamphetamine, as is base and speed.
Also called crystal, crystal meth, d-meth, or shabu, ice is the purest methamphetamine available today. It is also the most potent. It comes in crystal or powder form, and users typically smoke, inject or snort it. According to the National Drug Survey, latest figures suggest that at least two percent of Australians are abusing methamphetamine, a statistic that has not changed much over the last 10 years.
Dr. Nicole Lee, Adjunct Associate Professor from the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University, says that roughly half of all methamphetamine users prefer ice to other forms of the drug, and that the number of users now is almost twice as high as what it was in the last survey. Unfortunately, ice is highly addictive, and as with other drugs, the more you use it, the higher the risk of a dependency developing.
The effects of ice are hard- and fast-hitting. How quickly a user feels them, however, depends on the quantity consumed and the route of administration. Dr. Lee explained, “Mostly people will smoke, inject, or swallow a pill. Sometimes they dissolve it into alcohol or water and drink it. If you smoke it, it has an immediate high. In just a couple of minutes, users get quite a big hit.”
Of swallowing it, Dr. Lee said, “If you ingest it through your stomach, it is about 20 minutes before you start to feel the effects.” The initial buzz from ice is one of intense mental clarity and physical pleasure. Users claim that ice makes it easier to think clearly, plan effectively, and make good decisions. It is also highly energetic, as it increases dopamine levels significantly.
Methamphetamine stimulates dopamine production by up to 1,000 times the normal level, which is much higher than other any drug or pleasure-seeking activity. It increases breathing rate, speeds up heart rate, dilates pupils, enhances sex drive, and reduces appetite for up to 12 hours and it stays in the bloodstream and urine for up to 72 hours.
Unfortunately, unlike cannabis, ice has dangerous consequences for users. At least one-quarter of all regular users will become psychotic at any given time, and methamphetamine psychosis is particularly paranoiac. It makes people overly suspicious, convinced of implausibility, and likely to see and hear things that are not happening in reality.
Methamphetamine psychosis can last up to three hours, and it can vary in intensity. Sometimes, however, if symptoms are particularly severe, they can last for days. Schizophrenics are more likely to have psychotic episodes after consuming ice than other users, but once effects begin wearing off, users return to normal roughly 24 hours later.
The high of ice is very different to its come down. The happy, focused, energetic buzz morphs into the complete opposite as the drug starts leaving your system. Users cannot make decisions, concentrate or plan much during the ‘coming down’ period, and many complain of severe headaches, starvation, and vision difficulties.
Feeling anxious, jittery, depressed, and generally ‘flat’ is a common side effect of ice. Users feel exhausted afterward and can easily sleep a full day, even two, but not after struggling endlessly to fall asleep first, Dr. Lee explains. Some may feel very irritable and have mild to wild symptoms of psychosis, including hallucinations and extreme paranoia.
“The ‘come down’ period is like a hangover,” states Dr. Lee. “A recovery period after which people may move into withdrawal if they are dependent.”