Valley assistance needed for understanding ice

Researchers will consult those at the centre of the ice epidemic as part of a state-first study into the use of the drug.

The Latrobe Valley will be a core focal point of VicMeth: Understanding methamphetamine use in metropolitan and regional Victoria, a research collaboration between the Monash University School of Rural Health and the Burnet Institute, aiming to understand the driving factors behind the illicit drug's use.

More than 800 methamphetamine users from the Latrobe Valley, Shepparton, Bendigo and Melbourne will be followed for a two-year period to document their use of the drug in a bid to identify effective ways to assist with recovery.

Monash University School of Rural Health research fellow and project lead Keith Sutton said the Latrobe Valley was of particular interest to the study as it had a high prevalence of drug use.

By recruiting the Valley's methamphetamine - or ice - users, Dr Sutton hopes to gain an insight into the reasons people start using the drug and the social and support factors that influence them to stop.

He said existing research focused on those presenting to hospital emergency departments, with very little focusing on the behaviours of users over a period of time.

"There is little data to quantify the impacts ice use is having on Victorian communities," Dr Sutton said.

"Despite all the media coverage, we know very little about the nature of methamphetamine use and how to minimise the risk of health and social harms resulting from use."

The study will focus on those who smoke, snort or swallow ice, rather than injecting the illicit drug- an ingestion method which generally signified a more dependant user.

Dr Sutton said the earlier the intervention, the better the outcome.

"We don't know a lot about why some people can find a way to change or stop their usage while others move on to more continued use over time... that's what we hope to uncover," he said.

The study is hoping to attract about 150 ice users from the Latrobe Valley, with participants offered reimbursement for their participation.

Participants must be aged 18 years or more.

Confidentially is assured.

For more information about the VicMeth project in the Latrobe Valley or to register your interest in participating, phone 0490 483 365.

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