Drugs, alcohol: How and why it’s tearing southwest QLD apart
Countless southwest Queensland residents have found themselves before the courts for drug-related offences and many of them also face personal and health problems stemming from the use of illicit substances.
The drugs that are often found in communities like Roma, are cannabis, and the much harder drugs of methamphetamine and methylamphetamine.
Roma police constable Rory Akermanis knows there’s many consequences that drug use in the community poses, including mental health issues, dangerous driving, and criminal behaviour.
“There’s some people that’ll take the drugs and they’ll just chill,” he said.
“There’s other people who take the drugs and they become agitated, annoyed.”
For those who have negative reactions to drugs, there is the potential for it to incite criminal behaviour.
Constable Akermanis said they were currently having a massive push towards more drug testing across the community and on the roads.
“The problem that we have with a relevant drug in the system is that you could be a meth user and over time your body builds up an immunity to it as such,” he said.
Constable Akermanis said he had talked to reformed addicts and current meth users in the past and many of them said they felt a massive high the first time they took the drug.
The users never achieve the high again, however they keep chasing it anyway.
”Some truck drivers use meth to keep themselves awake,” he also said.
He said there had been incidents in Queensland, particularly Logan, where drug-affected drivers passed out while waiting at traffic lights.
Community and social attitudes towards marijuana have changed during the years, and many Western jurisdictions including Canada and, some US states have legalised it for both medical and recreational use, but it remains illegal without a prescription in Queensland.
Constable Akermanis believes marijuana was the biggest contributor to mental health problems.
According to an Australian Government website, marijuana use can trigger schizophrenia in people who are already at risk, and users have been shown to have greater levels of depression compared to those who don’t use the drug.
While one of the pros of this drug is that is a natural substance sourced from a plant, constable Akermanis said it’s a concern that many growers are adding unnatural chemicals while they are growing to increase the yield.
“Those chemicals that are in the plants are affecting the brain differently,” he said.
Between Monday March 1, and Thursday March 4, Roma Police have made five drug possession charges and five drug utensils charges.
A 41-year-old man was pulled up for alleged drug driving on the Warrego Highway at 1.40pm on March 2.
Another 24-year-old man was caught reportedly driving with a drug in his system at midday the same day.
Then at 3pm on March 3, a 38-year-old man was caught on Raglan St allegedly drug driving and was found to be in possession of drugs.
There have been many instances where alcohol use in southwest Queensland has not only impacted the individual, but also others.
Alcohol fuelled crimes such as assaults, public nuisance, drink driving, and some serious indictable offences are often heard in local courts.
Constable Akermanis said alcohol often causes fights between younger people who think they can ‘get ten feet tall and bulletproof’.
Drink driving has always been an issue in many Queensland country towns according to constable Akermanis.
And local police continue to catch people driving over the legal limit.
Drivers who are found to be drink driving under the middle alcohol limit of 0.10 will have their licence suspended for at least 24 hours on the spot and will need to face court.
Magistrates must impose a mandatory period of disqualification on offenders for at least one months for low-range (0.05-0.10), three months for mid-range (0.10-0.15), or six months for High Range (U.I.L, over 0.15).
Learners, provision licence holders and anyone else required to be on the zero limit will lose their licence for at least three months.
The Way Out
There is plenty of support and rehabilitation programs for drug users in southwest Queensland.
But if they struggle to find them, they are welcome to come to the Roma Police Station for guidance.
“There’s help out there for people who want to get themselves clean,” constable Akermanis said.
“There’s plenty of avenues that don’t cost that much money.”
At the end of the day, he believes drug and alcohol users need to want to help themselves if any support program is to work.
“So many people try and push problems onto other people instead of taking responsibility for themselves,” he said.