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THIS is one of the many faces of ice.
A mentally-ill addict, in the grip of schizophrenia and crystal methamphetamine (ice) addiction, convinced the drug is helping him.
Long-term ice user Aaron’s delusions are so great, one minute he thinks the drug helps him sleep, the next he thinks it keeps him awake — all the better to guard him against the people he’s convinced are out to get him as he descends into full-blown paranoia.
The schizophrenia is exacerbated by his ice use, but Aaron believes it heals him.
His disturbing plight unfolds in the first episode of confronting new ABC documentary series Ice Wars.
It’s a confronting scene: not long out of a mental health unit after voluntarily seeking help because he “felt like hurting people”, Aaron is back in ice’s grip.
Ahead of his release, he told Ice Wars cameras the drug salves his schizophrenia.
“I start hearing voices and they control your mind … you see a similar face and think they’re stalking you. You get real paranoid and, like, anxious to hurt someone. You just need another shot (of ice) to make it all better,” he says.
“I feel like I have to use it forever. But I don’t want to hurt anyone.”
In one scene, Blacktown Mental Health Unit trauma manager Ash Baker — who has worked with Aaron for 10 years — makes an urgent visit after reports Aaron is again using ice, is aggressive and threatening violence.
Ash knows ice makes those paranoid feelings worse. But Aaron remains under the delusional belief it makes him better.
Troubled, delusional and confused, Aaron’s mind leaps from one disjointed thought to another.
He hears things that can’t be heard, sees things that can’t be seen, feels things that can’t be felt.
Deep in his psychosis, he talks of killing those that threaten him: “the “rapists and murderers” he imagined trying to get into his window. “If I get violent I’m gonna smash them with something or blow your f***king brains out … they’re gonna have to have army choppers … if it’s a newborn baby I’ll stab it straight in the head.”
Ash calmly interrupts the bizarre flow, asks if Aaron is OK, observing his thoughts seem all over the place.
Aaron rallies briefly: “I feel unsafe wherever I go.”
Taken in isolation, the scene is terrifying. Taken in the context of a drug epidemic gripping Australia, it’s as horribly sad as it is alarming.
And there are many equally confronting scenes in Ice Wars, which exposes the reality of a drug second only to cannabis, having overtaken Ecstasy, heroin and cocaine, as the illicit drug of choice in Australia.
Ice Wars examines the scale and scope of the challenges facing law enforcement, health workers, users, families and the community as they grapple to mitigate the effects of ice use in Australia.
By riding with police on ice lab busts, talking with addicts, former addicts, health care workers, affected families, and the community, the series exposes a very real war: Australia is the second-highest consumer of ice in the world per capita: 1.3 million Australians have tried it.
In episode one, as they raid an ice lab in suburban Sydney, police detail how ice is made in labs, which could explode at any moment.
They tell of the sought-after ice “cooks” who manufacture the drug, and command big dollars from organised crime syndicates.
“We see these premises explode … they’re volatile environments being run by amateur scientists dealing with dangerous chemicals,” says NSW Drug Squad commander, Det Supt Tony Cooke.
From the emergency rooms — where health workers must deal with the users dubbed “ice monsters” because of the aggression and psychosis the drug and its associated lack of sleep cause — to the regional and rural areas where its tentacles extend, it’s a grim picture.
Few are exempt form the effects: one landlord tells how her decision to rent out her granny flat for a few extra dollars saw her health deteriorate. The cause? Her new tenant is not a chef, but an ice cook, whose products are making her ill.
Former World Surfing Champion Tom Carroll tells how ice filled a void in his life but stole everything he valued at the same time.
Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie reveals the story of her fight to save her son Dylan from ice addiction.
“You wouldn’t go and drink a bottle of nail polish remover. But these are the types of chemicals that are used to make these drugs,” says one police officer.
So what’s the attraction?
“I just felt like nothing could stop me. That’s what it felt like. Nothing could hurt me and nothing could stop me,” says one former addict.
Until it kills you.
Read more at New.com.au