The seaside city of Townsville hides some real problems beneath its tropical exterior especially with regards to drug and alcohol use. This small town has some of the highest consumption rates in the state with police working hard to halt the trafficking of illicit substances and excessive binge drinking. The good news is that there are a number of public treatment programmes available although these can be filled to capacity due to heavy demand.
The Townsville Bulletin doesn’t hold back when it writes that Townsville is the drug capital of regional Queensland. It also backs up this claim by writing that the centre experienced 548 drug-related offences in 2012-13. This was the first time that more people were arrested for supply than for possession (240 compared to 220). Townsville also had 35 prosecutable trafficking offences and 47 for drug production during this time. All these figures are above the Queensland average.
The Australia-wide ice epidemic has reached Townsville as well with the Bulletin reporting that the demand for rehab by amphetamine addicts rose by 165% from 2010 to 2014. Again, this is higher than the state average. ABC News says police have done their best to stop this trend, writing about a 2014 drug bust where ice, ecstasy and cannabis worth $200,000 was seized.
There are also other ways in which these issues emerge within Townsville. For instance, the Townsville Bulletin reports that parents and relatives are picking up and dropping off their children at school while high. In July 2015, 76 drivers tested positive to drugs. Cannabis was common amongst the older generation while young parents were taking methamphetamines. Driving while high has also caused accidents in the region with the Townsville Bulletin writing about a man crashing while under the influence, killing his partner instantly.
There is also a real problem with excess drinking in Townsville. The Courier Mail reports that the corner of Flinders and Kings Streets is one of the most violent places in the state when it comes to alcohol-related assaults. In 2013, there were 78 assaults in the area. This number balloons out to 1,067 attacks over the past ten years.
One example of an alcohol-related assault in this beachside city is found in the Townsville Bulletin. Here, an intoxicated male repeatedly stabbed a charity worker outside the Rollingstone Hotel. While the man was deemed mentally ill, excessive consumption of alcohol was said to have played a major role in the attack.
Police have also stumbled upon illegal alcohol production in Townsville. In 2014, Pedestrian reported on the seizure of 60 goon bags from a vessel at Forrest Beach Boat Ramp. 63 kilograms of cask wine were confiscated. This was said to be sly-grog, poor quality moonshine that reportedly gives the drinker an awful hangover.
With regards to public treatment facilities, ABC News says that demand in Townsville is exceeding supply. With 40% of clients in rehab for ice, a drug which takes a long time for a full detox, local centres have waiting lists that can last for several months. Extra funding from the government is needed to tackle this problem effectively.
Fortunately, there are a number of other public services run in Townsville that partially make up for this gap. For instance, the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Service (ATODS) offers education, assessment, counselling, treatment and referral for those suffering from addiction. Legal Aid also recommends the Queensland Indigenous Alcohol Diversion Program where those charged with alcohol-related offenses can seek assistance as part of bail. The program includes both detox and treatment.