SNAPSHOT: Expert outlines addiction on the Fraser Coast
ALASDAIR McLay has spent more than 30 years working with individuals suffering from addiction.
In this current role as the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service unit manager for the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Services in the region, his job is on the frontline, working with symptoms of drug-use in the community.
Mr McLay spoke to the Chronicle as part of News Corp's special investigation, The Ripple Effect, into drugs and their effect on the community.
As well as providing information, counselling, treatment and referral for individuals and families with a range of alcohol and other drug-related problems, ATODS also holds the drug diversion sessions which some first-time drug offenders are eligible for instead of heading to court.
To provide a snapshot of the Fraser Coast, statistics from the last month show 45 per cent of the 83 ATODS active general clients consider alcohol their primary drug while 12 per cent say marijuana, 10.9 per cent say methamphetamine and 7 per cent say amphetamines.
While of the service's 117 active opioid treatment program clients, 19 per cent say their primary drug use is morphine, 18 per cent say heroin, 17 per cent say oxycontin and 13.68 per cent say fentanyl.
Mr McLay said the number of Maryborough's clientele had risen to an extent of having to employ more staff.
He explained the historic differences between Hervey Bay and Maryborough drug use were gradually changing.
"Initially the majority of our general clients were coming from the Maryborough region and majority of our opioid treatment clients were coming from Hervey Bay," Mr McLay said.
"But as the drug usage changes in the community, those people start to change as well … there is an increasing amount of injecting and opioid in Maryborough now."
He stressed ATODS was only one of the services on the Fraser Coast available to addicts who need assistance.
Mr McLay said often the use of drugs were related to other factors in people's lives which made treatment a complex process.