When it comes to drugs and alcohol, Hobart suffers the same fate as a lot of Australia's smaller towns: consumption rates are higher than the national average for certain illicit substances plus binge drinking is common. There is also a lack of proper infrastructure to treat addiction and dependency which can lead to a vicious cycle if the individual doesn't look elsewhere for rehab and treatment.
Drug Use in the Hobart Area
UNSW and the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) have some good information about the consumption of illicit drugs in Hobart. In 2011, they looked at injecting drug users and found that 55% of them were male and 68% of them were unemployed. The average age was 35 years old. Breaking it down by substance, 66% used opioids, 19% used heroin, 98% used amphetamines, 7% used cocaine and 97% used cannabis.
The Tasmanian police have been working hard to shut down any illegal drug operations in and around Hobart. The Examiner talks about the disruption of a methamphetamine operation where 4 kg of the drug with a total street value of $10 million was seized. They were sent from the UK and tracked by police until they arrived.
The Mercury talks about another operation distributing amphetamines and cocaine that police uncovered in Hobart. In this case, $155,000 of ice and $65,000 of cocaine were seized and two men arrested. Two homes and a gentlemen's club were searched according to ABC News.
Alcohol Consumption in Hobart
While there aren't any statistics about alcohol use in Hobart (most are for the state of Tasmania), the news gives us a good idea of local residents' attitudes to this problem. ABC News writes of a man who stole a car and drugs and drove off under the influence of alcohol earlier this year. He also assaulted police after he crashed the vehicle later on.
In another incident, ABC News writes that a groom and best man were arrested and the bride hospitalised after a drunken reception brawl last year. The wedding party grew out of control and it took six police units to calm down the situation. The two men were charged with disorderly conduct while the woman was treated for alcohol poisoning.
To stop these kinds of events occurring, laws regarding the consumption of alcohol have been tightened in some areas according to ABC News. Hobart City Council has imposed a ban on drinking after certain hours in a number of public spaces around the region. The Mercury also writes of police conducting an experiment in Hobart aimed at surveying the links between the consumption of alcohol and various criminal and risky behaviour.
Rehab Options in Hobart
The bad news is that despite these trends in drug and alcohol use, Tasmania is the only state in Australia without a user-led group supporting drug addicts within the health system, according to ABC News. There is a volunteer run group called Tasmanian User's Health Support League (TUHSL) with 400 members although they are currently without funding.
When it comes to government-run services, options are fairly limited especially when compared with Australia's larger cities. The Alcohol and Drug Service (ADS) is now operating in Hobart offering treatment and support for those suffering from addiction. This includes an opioid pharmacotherapy program, psychosocial interventions program and community sector services.
Finally, the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Council (ATDC) has members which help various agencies in the region to support those dependent on these substances. They also run conferences, workshops and surveys to provide education in this field and to better understand how to assist those who really need it.
Alternatives for Tasmanians
With limited options in Hobart and many of the country's best rehabs too expensive, many locals have no choice except to seek help further away. There are a number of excellent facilities on mainland Australia as well as overseas. Many people also don't realize that when they need to seek help with their addiction they can use their Superannuation to pay part or sometimes all of the costs of getting treatment.