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rising use of methamphetamine among young women tied to desire to lose weight

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Image: Steve Evans via Wikimedia Commons

The increased use of the methamphetamine, ice, has links to weight loss and body image problems, according to Triple J’s Hack program.

‘A bunch of callers and texters told us that ice isn’t just being used to get high, it is also being used to lose weight,’ said Sarah McVeigh.

It isn’t a lie that people, particularly young women, feel exponential pressure to look a certain way. And this week’s Hack program has shown Australia just how dangerous this can be.

A survey conducted in 2011 by the Burnet Institute, interviewed 220 young regular drug users of ecstasy, cocaine and methamphetamine (psycho-stimulants), showed that weight loss was much more common as a reason for taking drug than was expected.

Rebecca Jenkinson who conducted the survey stated: ‘We found that over 30 per cent of the women we spoke to had recently used psycho-stimulants to… lose or maintain their weight. And most of those young women were concerned about putting on weight if they stopped using the drugs.’

Methamphetamine was the most common drug used by these respondents for weight loss.

One user, who wanted to stay anonymous, told the program, ‘I think every girl has pressure from the media about what to look like. I wanted to get skinnier. I joined the gym, I tried a pill from the doctor as well, but it [the weight] just didn’t seem to be going away.’

‘I was basically like breathing in clouds, I was ecstatic,’ she said. ‘I would go for five or six days and then sleep for two days, and then smoke weed and then back again [to ice] for six days or so. I ended up losing ten kilos.’

She ended up stopping because her body, particularly her skin, was showing very disturbing signs of bad health. ‘I wish I had never taken that first puff,’ she told Hack. ‘That feeling will stay in the back of my mind for the rest of my life.’

Another caller, Lisa, who had struggled with anorexia during high school realised, soon after trying ice, that she could lose lots of weight really quickly. ‘I got down to 39, 40 kilos,’ she said. ‘Now that I’ve stopped… I actually can’t put the weight back on.’

Last week the radio program dedicated a segment to the rising use of “ice” in rural areas finding that kids as young as 12 had smoked the drug. Body image was not the only concern raised. Mental health as well as other risky behaviour also featured prominently in the discussions.

‘Every time you use it, it takes something from you. Every time you’ve felt happy, you will not feel happy that same way anymore,’ stated one of the callers.

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