Lockyer Valley pollie wants to stop calling meth 'ice'
SHOULD authorities stop referring to the drug methamphetamine as "ice"?
Lockyer Valley MP Ian Rickuss thinks so. The veteran LNP MP is pushing for politicians to stop using the drug's street name, worrying it is glamorising the drug.
But a leading addiction expert said the message could be lost if politicians use overly technical language.
Mr Rickuss's push came as the State Government announced a new strategy to stop the drug spreading. In a letter to his LNP colleagues Mr Rickuss said calling the drug by its street name may make it sound "cool".
"From my understanding, the cool sounding name of ice would have some effect on easily influenced people. They should be calling this drug meth or methamphetamines or something similar," he said.
"To me, this is similar to what used to be called 'king hit' that is now being called 'cowards punch'."
But National Drug Research Institute addiction sociologist Suzanne Fraser said simple and clear messages were vital when authorities speak about illicit drugs.
"Otherwise the message you're trying to convey could be confusing or even lost altogether. But sometimes these two priorities - simplicity and clarity - don't line up," she said.
"Health promotion strategies often combine formal names, methamphetamine, with informal names, ice, crystal meth, to ensure everyone's clear what's being talked about."
Professor Fraser, who heads the Curtin University institute's Social Studies of Addiction Concepts research project, said using negative language can drive issues underground.
"As we found in our research project on experiences of alcohol and other drug addiction, dependence or habit, people are much more negatively affected by politicians' and journalists' use of stigmatising language than by glamorising language," she said.
"So improving the language used in public debate to make it fairer is probably the highest priority in this area."
But Mr Rickuss said he had received support from some of his party members after sending the email.
"I may just be an old fuddy duddy, but I reckon if it stops just one person, or one kid using the drug, then it's worth it, isn't it," he said.
Mr Rickuss's push came as the government announced regional summits to combat the drug's spread. Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman told parliament recent data showed meth abuse is a bigger issue in her department than any other drug including alcohol.