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Drug users from all walks of life

BCHS drug safety worker, Bart McGill, says there is no such thing as a stereotypical drug user. Picture: DARREN HOWERELATED:Demand for clean syringes grows
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Dean* is in his mid-30s, gainfullyemployed and has a young family.

He has never had any contact with police or the justice system, despite having used drugs since his early 20s.

Dean is just one of roughly 5000 intravenous drug users in Bendigo atrisk of contracting HIV or hepatitis C,who participate inBendigo Community Health Services’needle and syringe outreach program.

He says the program has helped him stay healthy, despite life experiences which he says drove him to self-medicate.

“Basically, having access to NSP programs is one of the main reasons I don’t have hep C or worse”, he says.

“I’ve used for a long time and I’m not going to say that it’s a good thing or I’m proud of it,I don’t want my kids to go down that road,I hope that they won’t have the same experiences as me –the real sh***y ones that can lead a person to medicating themselves.

“I don’t blame anyone else for the fact that I use,I’ve grown up to the point where I can own it now, but because I never got sick from it, I’m doing good now.”

BCHS drug safety worker, BartMcGill, says if Dean doesn’t seem like a typical“junkie”, that’s becausethere is no such thing as a stereotypical drug user.

“The reality is we go to every suburb, every socio-economic or cultural group,” he says.

“I’ve dealt with peoplewho didn’t have any shoes and the next person wesaw wasin aGucci suit.”

McGill says contrary to popular perception, most people who use drugs are not addicts, but participation in the program can be a first port of call for them when things get out of hand.

“For most peopleit might not be what they really want to do, but they don’t have a huge problem like the public perception might be,” he says.

“We can alsohelp them when they want to change their behaviour as well, becausethere’s no need to bulls**t us.They feel like they can turn to us and we’re not going tojudge themor look down on them.”

“They aren’t just going to tell me I’m a bad person because I use,” Dean says of the NSP staff.

“Because I knew these guys already, I reckon it was easier for me to get help when I needed it.”

*Name has been changed.

Naloxone an OD insurance policyBendigo Community Health Services’ needle and syringe program is all about harm minimisation.

To that end,drug safety worker, BartMcGill, wants all the city’s intravenous drug users to familiarise themselves with the name Naloxone, a drug hesays could save their life.

“Ambos have been using it for decades and basically what it does is reverse the effects of an opiate overdose,” he says.“It’squite amazing stuff, it’s got absolutely no risk profile, it doesn’tdo anything else except for that.”

While technically a restricted medication, Naloxone is available over the counter for as little as $6.

For more information talk to yourpharmacist or call theNSP line on 1800 636 514 between7.30pm and10.45pm Tuesday to Saturday.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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