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Straddled across the NSW/Victoria border, the twin town of Albury-Wodonga is a rural spot that has a dual problem with drug addiction and heavy drinking. From the trafficking of illicit substances to minor alcohol-related incidents, this is a destination that covers the whole spectrum. The fact that there are few rehab services available locally exacerbates the problem as well, especially for those who are dependant on these substances.
Both Albury and Wodonga seem to have similar issues with illicit substances with drug news coming out of each on a regular basis. For instance, The Border Mail writes that drug offences jumped 61% in 2012-13 from the previous year. This included 58 cultivating, trafficking and manufacturing offences and 157 possession offences. Another article in The Border Mail says that Wodonga paramedics were called out for five heroin-related jobs and 88 alcohol-related jobs in 2012-13. Statistics in Albury are also on the rise, police say.
Drug seizures are also fairly common on both sides of the border. Star Community wrote about Wodonga police confiscating two kilograms of methamphetamines from a car travelling on the Hume Highway. The drugs had a value of about $600,000. The Border Mail also writes about a raid in Albury where cannabis and methamphetamines were seized. Two men were arrested.
Locals aren’t taking this sort of thing sitting down and a number of forums have been held. One good example is found in ABC News where past ice users got together to speak about their experiences. Not only was this incredibly cathartic for everyone involved but it also exposed an issue that has remained hidden.
Instances of alcoholism and related incidents can range from humorous to outright tragic in Albury-Wodonga. For the former, 3AW Breakfast wrote of a man called Cham Payne who had been called to court charged with alcohol-related assault. The case went for two weeks and he was eventually found guilty. On the other end of the spectrum, The Border Mail writes of a resident who suffered from alcoholism. Turned away from Albury Hospital and unable to find help locally, he moved to Canberra where he was later found dead.
A number of alcohol forums have also been held in Albury. The ABC News reported on one in 2011 where the issue of safety in the community was raised. Although offenses for non-domestic violence and offensive behaviour related to alcohol were down from 2006 to 2010, the forum went over measures to stop further harm from road accidents, domestic violence and youth crimes, including better public transport and earlier closing times for pubs. Star Community mentioned another forum on alcohol-related violence in 2015. Here, the topics were frequent incidents around Dean Street plus the effects of alcohol on domestic violence, vandalism and hooliganism.
Unfortunately, the town of Albury-Wodonga is fairly limited when it comes to treatment for those addicted to drugs and alcohol. The ABC News writes that there is an urgent need for a proper centre in the town especially with substances like methamphetamines affecting the community.
There are two government-funded initiatives available locally. The first are the Community Drug and Alcohol Services provided by Albury Wodonga Health. These offer assessment, information, education, referrals and more for those suffering from substance abuse. There are also opioid treatment programs and community withdrawal services available.
The second option is Odyssey House which provides services to those with alcohol and drug dependencies who have health, behavioural and psychological issues. This includes rehab, admissions, assessment, withdrawal and a parent/children program. The Magistrates Early Referral into Treatment (MERIT) is also available for those charged with drug or alcohol-related offences.
With these limited choices, locals living in Albury-Wodonga are often left to look elsewhere for assistance with their drug and alcohol issues. Rather than seek help in cities such as Melbourne, we recommend checking into a clinic in a country like Thailand where international standards of care are offered at a fraction of the price.
Because you will be seeking help far away from Australia, you won’t have to worry about others in your community finding out either. Siam Rehab Chiang Rai in the north of Thailand offers truly confidential treatment to re-balance your life. Flights there via Sydney take about 13 hours depending on whether you also transfer through Singapore, Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur. We will be there to pick you up at the airport too, making your journey here as painless as possible!