Home | Top Stories | Record number of addicts at WA rehab farm Palmerston Association

Record number of addicts at WA rehab farm Palmerston Association

One of WA’s biggest drug treatment providers has handled a record number of addicts at its residential rehabilitation farm, with dozens more waiting to get a bed.

Figures from the Palmerston Association show a 50 per cent increase in three years in the proportion of people being treated for methamphetamine.

In the past financial year, one-third of its clients were meth users — up from about one-in-five in 2013-14.

Overall, more than 5700 people sought help in 2016-17 — a 13 per cent increase in two years —including almost a 40 per cent increase in the number of people who used the service’s residential farm.

About 60 per cent of people aged 18 to 24 who used the farm were being treated for meth addiction, staying an average of eight weeks, with the longest stay of 42 weeks.

Palmerston's residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility.
Palmerston’s residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility.Picture: The West Australian

Palmerston chief executive Sheila McHale said the data showed that from a treatment perspective meth was showing no signs of abating.

“In 2016-17, 32 per cent of our clients across the service reported that meth was their primary concern,” she said.

“We’ve had a record number of residents through the farm, with 215 residents, which is up 39 per cent in two years, in part due to additional beds funded through the State Government.

“We have 26 people ready and waiting for a bed at the 40-bed residential service and others wanting a bed but not yet ready.”

Ms McHale welcomed the State Government’s decision to set up an inpatient behavioural assessment unit at Royal Perth Hospital’s emergency department to cater for people with acute issues because of their drug use.

Police have seized more than a tonne of methamphetamine in Geraldton.

“The ED initiative is excellent and needs to be supported by good treatment services in the community and residential services so that people can be supported in the long-term recovery process to deal with meth,” she said.

Palmerston’s annual report said services were on a rapid learning curve in the treatment of meth addiction.

There was strong demand for meth family group sessions, and a pilot of Saturday morning appointments for people seeking help, which started in April last year, had been generally booked to capacity.

Ms McHale said the last mid-year review commitment to fund meth-specific counselling positions to support meth users had been welcomed by the drug rehabilitation sector.

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