FAQs: Students

SDERA FAQs

These FAQs (frequently asked questions), to address topical questions regarding methamphetamine and young people in the context of schools, have been funded by and developed in partnership with the Department of Education. Information is provided on the following frequently asked questions:




What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is an amphetamine-type stimulant. Stimulants speed up the function of the brain and central nervous system. Methamphetamine comes in three different forms:

  • powder or pills (speed) that can be swallowed, snorted or injected
  • a thick, oily substance (base) that can be swallowed or injected
  • crystals or coarse, crystal-like powder (ice) that can be smoked or injected.

Are a lot of students using methamphetamine?

Most school students do not use meth/amphetamine, including crystal methamphetamine (ice). The Australian School Students Alcohol and Drug Survey (ASSAD) - which surveys alcohol and drug use among 12 to 17 year old students - shows that use of Amphetamine Type Stimulants (ATS) has in fact, been decreasing over time. The latest WA results continue to demonstrate a downward trend in the percentage of students who reported ever using ATS, with a decline from 14.3% in 1999 to 3.5% in 2014.

 For more information download the Putting methamphetamine into perspective fact sheet.

How might I be affected if I use methamphetamine?

As with any drug, the effects of methamphetamine vary from person to person and can depend on:

  • how much is used
  • mood
  • body size such as weight and height
  • overall health
  • previous experience with this drug
  • whether it is used on its own or in combination with other drugs
  • purity and potency.

If you use methamphetamine, you could experience a combination of physical effects such as:

  • increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • difficulty sleeping
  • restlessness
  • headaches and dizziness.

You might also experience a number of psychological effects such as:

  • feeling confident, alert and energised
  • being talkative
  • feeling anxious or panicky
  • feeling agitated, aggressive or being hostile.

The longer you use methamphetamine the greater your risk of harm of experiencing negative effects such as:

  • insomnia
  • tolerance and dependence
  • dental problems
  • depression, anxiety and mood swings
  • relationship breakdown
  • periods of psychosis.

For more information on the effects of methamphetamine download the About Ice fact sheet.

Why do some people use methamphetamine?

The majority of people do not use illicit drugs, including methamphetamine.  Those who do use them, will use them for a lot of different reasons.  Some of these reasons might be:

  • to experiment and satisfy curiosity
  • to socialise
  • to feel more confident
  • to feel like they have more energy
  • to do something that feels exciting
  • to alleviate boredom
  • to fit in because their friends are using it
  • to feel less stressed
  • to escape problems.

As with any drug, the effects that people experience can be different and some people may have reactions to methamphetamine that are unpleasant or harmful, even when small amounts are used.  Risks of harm are increased too because methamphetamine is an illegal drug and may be “cut” or mixed with other substances.  This means that it is difficult to tell what the drug contains which increases the risk of unpredictable harmful effects.

The initial effects of drug use are short lasting where the problems that drug use can generate can last a lot longer.  If you are struggling with stressful problems, feel that your confidence is low or are concerned about your own or someone else's drug use, speak to someone you trust that can support you. 

For more information about services that can provide you with the help you need, visit our information and support webpage.

Where can I get more information?

Getting accurate information about methamphetamine and other drugs is very important.  This means that you can be well informed and not relying on what you hear in the media or on what your friends might tell you they think is true. These sites are reliable and accurate and based in Australia.

  • The Mental Health Commission is responsible for the network of drug and alcohol treatment services and programs formerly provided by the Drug and Alcohol Office.  Confidential helplines are available for anyone concerned about their own or another person's alcohol or drug use.

  • The Drug Aware website provides factual, credible and accurate drug information for young people in order to help them make informed decisions. It also provides a live chat service where you can chat confidentially with a professional alcohol and drug councillor online.

  • The Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) is committed to preventing alcohol and other drug harms in our communities and believe that an Australia free from alcohol and drug harm will be an Australia that’s safer for us all.

  • The Alcohol.Think Again education campaign is part of a comprehensive approach in Western Australia that aims to reduce the level of alcohol-related harm and ill-health in Western Australia. 

Visit our information and support webpage to access additional support and information.

Where can I get more help?

If you would like to talk to someone about a problem you, a family member or friend are experiencing related to drugs, there are some really good help and support lines where you can talk to someone on the phone or chat online. No matter how big a problem seems, confiding in a trusted adult can really help.  Don't be on your own. We are all human and can all have problems. Talk to your parents, a teacher or another staff member at your school who will also support you in getting the help you need.  

Visit our information and support webpage to access additional support and information.


Alcohol and Drug Support Service

The Alcohol and Drug Support Service provides free 24/7 non judgemental telephone, counselling, information, referral and support lines for alcohol and drug use.

Alcohol and Drug Support Line

For anyone concerned about their own or another person's alcohol or drug use, call
T: 9442 5000
T: 1800 198 024 (country callers)
E: alcoholdrugsupport@mhc.wa.gov.au


Kids Helpline

The Kids Helpline counsellors talk with more than 5,500 kids each week and can help will all sorts of problems, big and small. You can contact Kids Helpline via phone or email. If your problem is urgent, or if you need to speak to someone straight away, call the helpline.

You don’t need to tell the counsellor your name and the information you discuss will remain confidential, unless the counsellor feels that your life or another person’s life is in danger.

T: 1800 55 1800, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week


Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue provides support for depression, anxiety and related disorders.

T: 1300 22 4636, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week


Lifeline

Lifeline provides confidential telephone counselling, 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services.

T: 131114, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Is it ok to ask for help?

One of the most important things to learn about how to help ourselves when we are struggling or worried is to allow ourselves to ask for help.  Asking for help is not easy.  Sometimes even though we know we need to confide in someone to help us deal with a problem, we avoid talking about it because we are afraid that no-one can help, worried about what might happen or change, concerned about upsetting others, or embarrassed that we have a problem in the first place.  Other times we feel that we need to be resourceful and solve our problems by ourselves.  When our problem is with drug use, for some reason we can feel even more worried about confiding in anyone.

If you are using a drug that is illegal, like cannabis or methamphetamine, or you are drinking but you are underage, asking for help might seem even harder.  Maybe you are worried about getting into trouble with your parents, at school, with the law, or just concerned that people won’t understand and will react or judge you.   Maybe it is someone else’s drug use you are worried about.

When we do pluck up the courage and ask for help though, more times than not, the guidance and support that we need will be offered and we can talk things through and then things can start to get better.

So, find out who you can talk to at school.  Also, there are some really good help and support lines where you can talk to someone on the phone or chat online. If you click on the Who can help? tab, you will find links to lots of help lines that can give great information as well as advice and support .  The people you will talk to have the experience and knowledge to point you in the right direction to get the help you need.

What to do in an emergency

If you are worried that you or someone else may be at immediate risk due to having used methamphetamine – and/or other drugs – call Triple Zero (000). Generally, paramedics will not involve the police unless they feel threatened by someone’s behaviour, consider others to be under threat, if a crime has been committed or if someone dies.  Don't wait until it is too late, call for help straight away.

Who should I talk to when I need help?

When you have a problem, sometimes it might feel easier to talk to a friend or a brother or sister rather than to your parents, a teacher, or other adult.  The truth is though that sometimes you need the experience and greater knowledge and expertise that can only be provided by talking to a trusted adult like one of your parents, a teacher, other school staff member or a professional drug support worker.

School staff and other professionals are bound by confidentiality which means that what you talk about with them will stay between you. They will let you know if and when they need to share information about your situation with others and this will only be to make sure you get the best help possible. The only exception to this is if they were to be extremely worried about you or someone connected to you.  In this case, they may have to involve someone else without discussing it just to keep everyone safe.  Don’t be afraid to ask about confidentiality as school staff and health professionals will be open about this and explain everything to you upfront.  All they want to do is to make sure they give you the help you need.

No matter how big a problem seems, confiding in a trusted adult can really help.  Don't be on your own. We are all human and can all have problems and the best way to get through our problems is to ask for help.

Where else can I get help?

Find out who you can talk to at school.  Also, there are some really good help and support lines where you can talk to someone on the phone or chat online.  The people you will talk to have the experience and knowledge to point you in the right direction to get the help you need. Visit our information and support webpage to access support and information.

What to do in an emergency

 If you are worried that you or someone else may be at immediate risk due to having used methamphetamine – and/or other drugs – call Triple Zero (000). Generally, paramedics will not involve the police unless they feel threatened by someone’s behaviour, consider others to be under threat, if a crime has been committed or if someone dies.  Don't wait until it is too late, call for help straight away.


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