Analysis | NATION

Methamphetamine Is Here And Readily Available, Say Authorities

Users in Fiji are now injecting the drug to get the fix quicker and it is now more readily available than before. I am awake for a day or two and when I am high all my senses are aware: a user says.
22 May 2019 15:30
Methamphetamine Is Here And Readily Available, Say Authorities
Generic photo of a drug addict — ice — meth. Picture: iStock

Analysis:

The “ice age” is here and there is no denying that the nation is faced with a plague like no other.

Australia and New Zealand have declared methamphetamine to be the most addictive narcotic in the market.

Users in Fiji are now injecting the drug to get the fix quicker and it is more readily available than before.

Damon (not his real name), will turn 35 at the end of the year and he started using the drug almost three years ago.

For him, substance abuse was always a part of his life.

Abandoned by family when he was 15-years old, he even became a drug peddler at one time in his life.

“I was introduced to ice (methamphetamine) by a friend. He asked if I wanted to try something new, something that would blow my mind,” he said.

“Of course, I was eager. I wanted a high which was higher than ganja (marijuana) itself. I have been smoking marijuana all my life and now I had a chance to get a different high. And I have not stopped taking it since then.”

Damon described the high from meth as a feeling of euphoria and a surge of energy that could keep him awake for almost 48 hours, depending on the frequency of usage.

“I am awake for a day or two and when I am high all my senses are aware. I feel hyper and I can drink alcohol without getting much drunk,” Damon said.

“When I first smoked meth, it was from a pipe. Since then I have been making my own pipes. All I need is a light bulb and a pen.

But for about four or five months I have been injecting it.”

Damon said the injections were taken from hospitals and often shared between users.

He said he and his girlfriend would consider themselves regular users. His girlfriend is a sex-worker who bears the bill for their habit.

“At first buying ice was hard. Not many people carried it. It was expensive too. $100, sometimes more. But now it is only $50. I think because every pusher (drug peddler) has the drug now and it is made locally.”

Another user, Julie (not her real name), a woman in her mid-30s does not have the same upbringing as Damon.

In fact, she was born with almost a silver spoon in her mouth. Her parents had good jobs and always had the luxury of a home and cars. She went to a prominent school and even finished her degree.

According to Julie, falling in love with the wrong man is what got her hooked.

“My former boyfriend of almost 15 years got me started. He was even selling it. We used it regularly,” she said.

“This would lead us to alcohol filled parties and all other things that came with it. It was not until my boyfriend was arrested by Police for possession of meth, that I realised how far I had sunk into this world.

“This was the kind of things that my parents had always tried to keep me away from and here I was a user. This was having an effect on my life. I was spending less time with my child and I was losing it at work.”

Julie had to quit her work as an executive in a multi-national company and take a trip abroad to escape from the clutches of meth.

She said her teeth had started falling and she had become so skinny that her friends were not able to recognise her.

“My boyfriend was injecting it. I never did that. But I would have gone that way if I had continued on this path. I am clean now. My child is the light in this darkness and I know I can regather my life.”

Health and Medical Services Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete last week confirmed that cases arising from meth were coming before the hospital.

In New Zealand, Australia and other developed nations, the stress on the health system from the use of meth has been documented. New Zealand spends $15million annually, on the health side of things, dealing with meth cases. The figure in Fiji has not been quantified yet.

And doubts if this narcotic was only being imported has been laid to rest by the Defence and National Security Minister Inia Seruiratu.

Mr Seruiratu said the Police was aware of local manufacture and distribution.

This was also agreed by Commissioner of Police Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho. Methamphetamine or ice is a synthetic drug. This means that it is manufactured with chemicals and derivatives from chemicals.

The chemicals are readily available and meth labs can be set up virtually in any neighbourhood.

Jack (not his real name) is a former drug peddler who said he left the drug trade more than 10 years ago after spending time in jail.

“I started selling marijuana because it made me money. The supply from the farmers was healthy and so was the demand. I could make a killing in terms of money,” he said.

“But this was not the moral way of life that my elders had prepared me for. I paid for it with a jail term and realisation how I was contributing in the doom of the young generation.

“I realised in jail that because of me selling the drug, there were many youths who never fulfilled their potential. I repent every day.”

Jack said he was still in touch with a few people he knew from his drug trade era.

“I have often told these people to stop doing what they are engaged in. Now they are selling ice. One guy told me that he can make as much as $1000 a day from meth. This is far much more than what marijuana fetched,” he said.

“I think this is why more local peddlers are popping up. And of course, to have every second peddler having access to the drug means that it is manufactured locally.”

Governments of different countries have come up with different ways of dealing with the meth scourge.

Some have decriminalised marijuana with more focus on harder drugs such as meth while there are some with zero tolerance on any illicit drug.

Fiji is one of those countries that has a zero tolerance towards narcotics but this has not stopped the drug industry from establishing itself in the country.

The fact remains that meth is here and readily available.

For now, creating awareness and building youths into better citizens is the way to go while the law enforcement agencies do their part.

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