ICE addiction is not only impacting the user, its claws are reaching out right across Western NSW communities.
Children as young as 11 years old are presenting as addicts in the region's justice system and their dependence on the drug is fuelling crime cases, Juvenile Justice's Craig Biles says.
Communities in Western NSW are battling a growing "epidemic" of amphetamine-type stimulant (ATS) use, the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug 'Ice' heard during day two of evidence.
Juvenile Justice Central West area manager Mr Biles said staff in Bathurst, Orange and Dubbo work with clients who commit offences to fund their addiction.
"Clients will often commission steal and break enter related offences to fund their habits, in some cases violence related offences do occur," he said.
"One of the major challenges faced by young people with problematic ATS use (including addiction), once they are released from custody, is difficulties with ongoing access to specialist supports services."
"In addition, once a young person has returned to the community it is often the case that their motivation falls away, often influenced by peers or community factors which may lead to issues with accommodation or risks of further offending."
READ MORE: Day one of evidence at the Ice Inquiry
Mr Biles said ATS use impacts the addict's ability to function in education, employment, within a family setting and in forming and maintaining other relationships.
"Clients who disengage place themselves at risk of homelessness, the escalation of further substance abuse and an increased risk of mental health issues developing."
Long waiting lists and the lack of detoxification services outside Bathurst, Orange and Dubbo are also contributing factors for young people, Mr Biles said.
"The services that are available in the community may also have exclusion criteria, including offence based criteria (excluding young people who have committed violent or sexual offences, for example), and they may not accept a young person if they are actively using drugs," he said.
"Stable and appropriate accommodation may also be a consideration for inclusion into residential programs and exit planning is a critical part of service planning at the assessment stage."
READ MORE: What's the purpose of the Ice Inquiry
Mr Biles said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients who use ATS present with a variety of challenges, including a lack of local service capabilities in smaller towns and villages.
"This is in addition to a lack of public or community transport and a general distrust of authority systems," he said.
"Families are often resistant to attend Aboriginal service providers due to a perception that their information may be misused."
NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research data shows that last year, 96 people out of every 100,000 were identified as users or in possession of amphetamines in the Central West.
That was more than the NSW rate of 90 per 100,000.
In Orana and the Far West, that number jumps to more than double the state average, at 208 people per 100,000.
- National 24/7 Alcohol and Other Drugs Hotline - 1800 250 015
- NSW Mental Health Telephone Access Line - 1800 011 511
Read more from the Ice Inquiry
Love local news?
Why not subscribe.