Reducing the negative impact of amphetamine use is the aim of a new website launched by a Griffith University PhD candidate, in the face of this significant drug problem.

Males aged between 20-29 are currently the biggest group of people experimenting with amphetamines (6.8% in 2010), with women in this age range also using at high rates (5%) and WA seeing the highest prevalence within Australia. In Queensland, 1.9% aged 14 and above had used amphetamines in the past year.

Overcoming barriers to confidential and effective treatment

Offering five free weekly online sessions for participants 14 years and older, aims to overcome the common barriers experienced by people using amphetamines and who are looking for confidential and effective treatment.

“We have found that people who are concerned that their amphetamine use is becoming a problem put off seeking help due to concerns regarding confidentiality,” says Eliana Hirakis from the School of Applied Psychology. “For example, especially in rural and remote areas of Australia where there may be very tight-knit communities, people have told us of their embarrassment when seen at or near drug counselling centres.

“The demand for evidence-based online services for amphetamine users which are similar to those available for alcohol abuse has been gaining momentum and so we have developed in response to this demand.

“This population of people are commonly in their 20s and 30s and are very familiar with using online services. Coupled with the fact that amphetamine use is often shrouded in shame, we are looking to determine whether online treatment services are an effective way of assisting this group.

“Additionally we’re using a reward-based approach to further encourage people to seek help. The program provides vouchers for online department stores at various stages in order to maintain motivation and to encourage positive change regarding drug use.”

The online sessions include strategies such as developing refusal skills, identifying alternative coping mechanisms, dealing with cravings and triggers for use.

An enhancement to other forms of drug counselling can be used as an enhancement to other forms of drug counselling and does not have to be used as a replacement, says Ms Hirakis. “Face-to-face counselling is also important and beatingtherush can be useful in combination with this. Alternatively, people can be directed to further counselling options through the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS).”

On completion of the five weekly online sessions, it is hoped that users of will either be using amphetamines more safely, have reduced their use or have ceased use altogether, says Ms Hirakis.