Nestled between Canberra and the Snowy Mountains, Queanbeyan is a popular tourist destination. What most visitors don't know is that the town also has a darker side when it comes to drugs and alcohol. While it doesn't have the excesses of some of Australia's larger locations, there are still some underlying issues with regards to illicit substances and binge drinking. Compounding this is the fact that there aren't any local rehab or support facilities for those suffering from addiction.
Drug Use in the Queanbeyan Area
In 2013, the Queanbeyan Local Government Area (LGA) was listed in NSW's top five regions for amphetamines according to The Queanbeyan Age. There were a total of 89 incidents of dealing and trafficking, an increase from the 9 occurrences in 2012. During this period, local police arrested 60 individuals with 220 drug supply charges in a joint NSW/ACT operation. Another article from The Queanbeyan Age said that 15 of these arrests occurred within the city. Ten properties were searched with heroin, methamphetamines, cannabis and steroids seized.
The town hasn't always had this sort of problem. In fact, figures from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research showed that from 1997 to 2003, arrests for the possession, trafficking and cultivation of cannabis decreased overall. Arrests for the possession of narcotics increased to 1999 and then decreased back down by 2003. According to the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, from 1997 to 1999, there were only 37 ambulance callouts per year for suspected drug overdoses per 100,000 people in Queanbeyan.
Alcohol-related Incidents in Queanbeyan
This small town has also had its share of unfortunate events with regards to alcohol. The Sydney Morning Herald writes about one incident where two men were severely beaten at a local pub. This event didn't result in the stricter lockout laws that are now in place in Sydney and Newcastle however.
As for alcohol statistics throughout the region, Queanbeyan has a relatively low rate of consumption and related incidents. Health Stats NSW says that there were 5 to 7 alcohol-attributed deaths in the Queanbeyan LGA from 2000 to 2015. Additionally,Southern Primary Health says that only about 5.5% of the local population takes part in risky levels of alcohol consumption. As final proof that the region is quite low risk when it comes to drinking, rates for alcohol-related domestic violence cases are below the NSW state average.
Drug and Alcohol Assistance in Queanbeyan
As it is a small town, Queanbeyan doesn't have the support services found in Australia's larger centres. One option mentioned by Way Ahead is the town's Drug and Alcohol Treatment Service (DATS), which is a government-funded programme that includes assessments, counselling, education and other treatment options for drugs and alcohol addiction.
Southern NSW Local Health Districtsays that DATS is available in the same location as MERIT, a programme designed for those who have been arrested for drug and alcohol abuse to gain treatment and support for the road back to recovery.
There are also some minor services for those who need it. The Queanbeyan Library has a collection of books and other reading material offering information on combating drug and alcohol addiction. As well as this, there is a needle vending machine at the Queanbeyan District Hospital which is free for anyone who requires some sterilised syringes.
Alternatives for Queanbeyan Residents
Despite these limited options, there are still those in Queanbeyan requiring support for their addiction. If you don't want to go to one of the area's few public rehab programmes and don't have the money to check into one of Australia's many private clinics, a better alternative is opting for a centre in a country like Thailand. Here, you can get international standards of care without having to pay any excessive medical fees. Even counting the cost of your airfare from Canberra to Chiang Rai, which is where SIam Rehab is conveniently located, your total expenses will be far lower.
Thailand also offers complete confidentiality while you focus on your recovery. This is important for those living in a small town like Queanbeyan where everybody knows everybody else. If you don't want your family, friends and work colleagues to find out about your battle with addiction, just choose Thailand instead. Tell everyone you are flying off on a tropical holiday and we will pick you up at the airport. The flight is only about 14 hours from Canberra making it a quick hop over to Chaing Rai to start your road to a more balanced life.