LAST RESORT: A photo of the home-made cage that a Rockhampton mother has built to house her ice-addicted son.
LAST RESORT: A photo of the home-made cage that a Rockhampton mother has built to house her ice-addicted son. Contributed

Minister criticised for comments on drug addiction

UPDATE: The Opposition has criticised the state Health Minister Cameron Dick over comments he made regarding drug addiction. 

Shadow Minister for Health Mark McArdle said comments from Mr Dick that minors only experiment and are not addicted to drugs is an insult to suffering families.

He accused the Minister of turning a blind eye to a serious health issue.

"These comments are appalling, insensitive and should be immediately retracted," Mr McArdle said.

"At this very moment there are many families out there with a sibling, a child or a parent who might be struggling with drug-addiction.

"To simply dismiss their concerns the Minister is doing nothing more than putting his head in the sand."

MORE: Woman builds cage for her ice-addicted teen son

 EARLIER: WHEN Queensland Health Minister Cameron Dick was asked why there were minimal programs for addicted youth funded across the state, his spokesman said it was because minors only "experiment" with drugs, and weren't dependent.   

The response comes the day after a Rockhampton mother's desperate plea to find help for her ice-addicted teenager.    

She had built her own in-house cage to protect him and the public but was warned not to use it by police.

The woman said there weren't any services available to deal with her son's complex problems, and she had "nowhere to turn".  

Rockhampton's only rehab centre, Gumbi Gumbi, only takes adult clients.  

When the rehab situation was put to Mr Dick, his spokesman appeared to dismiss the lack of juvenile rehabilitation services in Queensland, and said residential rehab was only suitable for "high-level addicts".  

"Typically, young people under 18 have not developed a dependency on drugs, but are experimenting and engaging in risky behaviour with drugs," he said.  

"For people at low or intermediate dependence, community-based care can be more appropriate.   

"It means they can maintain connection with family and employment, and develop capacity to resist drugs in the environments that they live and work, not just in the controlled environment of a treatment facility."  

He said the government was currently spending $114million on drug and alcohol treatment services.  

The state's only live-in rehabilitation program for kids as young as 16, Toowoomba's Teen Challenge, said they were forced to be self-funded due to a lack of available funds.  

Gumbi Gumbi is also only funded by the Commonwealth.  

In April, the centre's counsellor Frank Waters said they received no funding from the state for their programs, forcing their clients to foot the $420/fortnight bill.  

While hope seemed to be on the horizon last week after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told the ALP state conference that the government was considering funnelling money from organised crime into drug treatment programs, it clarified that the focus would be placed on home-based and community out-patient rehabilitation rather than stand-alone facilities.  

Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne threw himself behind the move to fund more treatment centres in the state, revealing that many constituents had approached him about family members addicted to methamphetamine.  

"It is with this in mind that I am completely encouraged by the Premier's comments. It is a recognition that this problem goes way beyond enforcement provisions and requires diversionary programs and the offer of expert assistance if those ensnared by this evil are to have a chance of rehabilitation," he said.  

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