Found just south of Sydney, Wollongong doesn't seem to make front page news often when it comes to drugs and alcohol. Nonetheless, there have been some unfortunate incidents with regards to illicit substance use and drunken brawling. This means there are still those requiring help when it comes to battling addiction. Wollongong provides some options for support although locals will probably have to look further afield for better quality assistance.
Drug Consumption in Wollongong
In 2015, there were two serious drug busts by local police. The Daily Telegraph writes about a major operation in which two men were arrested and over 10,000 ecstasy pills seized. Crystal meth was also confiscated with the total drug street value estimated at $500,000. ABC News also reports that a hydroponic cannabis operation was uncovered on an abandoned rental property in Wollongong. All equipment was confiscated.
The city hasn't missed the growing ice epidemic occurring Australia-wide either. The Illawarra Mercury writes that the number of incidents involving dealing and trafficking methamphetamines was five times the state average in 2014. Wollongong reported a rate of 103.2 amphetamine deal/traffic incidents plus 100.3 possession incidents per 100,000 population.
There have also been minor cases of individuals arrested for drug dealing and possession. The Illawarra Mercury mentions a well-known dealer getting shot and killed in Wollongong. The man had been incarcerated multiple times after selling ecstasy, cannabis, methamphetamines and more. The Sydney Morning Herald also writes about a man caught dealing cocaine, methorphan, MDMA and Celecoxib from his home. He was trying to pay off a debt he'd made as a result of personal drug use.
Alcohol Use in the Wollongong News
When it comes to local and state media, the town of Wollongong has mostly remained out of the spotlight with alcohol-related incidents. One of the most serious is found in the Daily Telegraph. Here, three drunken men seriously beat up two teenagers in a local mall. The attack was unprovoked and the men were jailed for 15 months. Luckily, the victims survived the incident after requiring some brief hospitalisation.
In order to combat this behaviour, Wollongong Council has turned some public spaces into alcohol free zones. Unfortunately, the Illawarra Mercury writes that the rules for these zones can be confusing to citizens and the police. Apparently, the police cannot fine people unless they disobey instructions asking them to leave, give up their alcohol or empty their drinks. Wave FM says that laws about these zones were being relaxed with certain areas permitted to serve alcohol for events a limited number of times throughout the year.
Rehab Support in the Wollongong Area
Being a smaller town, there are a limited number of support programs for those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. Way Ahead writes about the MERIT Program which aims to help those charged by the courts. This is a voluntary way to work towards rehabilitation as one of the bail conditions.
YourCare mentions another support option for drug addicts: The First Step Program. This is a needle & syringe program offering a safer way to inject while giving information, advice and education on drug use and addiction. In Wollongong, Community Health for Adolescents in Need (CHAIN) and the AIDS Council of NSW (ACON) offer these services.
Finally, Shellharbour Connect recommends the Illawarra Drug and Alcohol Service (iDAS), a free service offering assistance, counselling and support from addicts, friends and family members. iDAS also offers educational services at Wollongong Hospital for added support.
Outside Help for Wollongong Residents
With these limited public offerings, what can someone addicted to drugs and alcohol do? Private clinics are far too expensive and the waiting lists for public rehabs in nearby Sydney are quite long. A better choice is flying to Thailand and checking into a private facility such as Siam Rehab in Chiang Rai. In this location, the cost of living is much lower than Australia. This means rehab costs are also cheaper, meaning you can get international standards of care without spending a fortune.
Thailand also offers a completely private treatment environment. The battle with drugs and alcohol can be embarrassing especially for those in a small town like Wollongong. Don't worry about your friends, family or boss finding out though! You can simply fly to Thailand and start your treatment there knowing we will keep everything confidential. Flights to Ching Rai take about 12 hours from Sydney after a short train ride from Wollongong. Our staff will meet you on arrival too, making your journey to our rehab clinic so much easier!