Rise in regional drug addicts abusing powerful medicines
DRUG addicts are increasingly abusing powerful pharmaceutical medicines including fentanyl in country NSW, an inquiry was told.
Richmond District Superintendent Toby Lindsay appeared in the first regional hearing of the state's Special Commission of Inquiry into Ice on Tuesday and said detections of MDMA and pharmaceutical drugs had increased significantly.
This included the powerful pharmaceutical fentanyl, which is 100 times stronger than morphine.
It comes after the latest crime data showed offences for the possession of substances including pharmaceutical drugs surged by 111 per cent in Lismore last year.
Meanwhile, Superintendent Lindsay said his officers were struggling to deal with the "extreme strength" they encounter when trying to subdue ice addicts and admitted even batons and capsicum spray were sometimes rendered ineffective.
"(It's about) the duration of the affectation, the extreme strength that police report in relation to people affected by that particular drug, the significant risk of engaging people at that affectation," he said.
Recently, two police officers were called to the small town of Woodburn south of Lismore after an ice-affected man became aggressive towards residents.
It took two civilians and two police officers to eventually apprehend the violent man, Superintendent Lindsay said.
"Incidents where people are seriously affected by ice have resulted in injuries to police and civilians or good Samaritans," he said.
"Police located the male (in Woodburn) - a violent confrontation occurred very quickly. A full range of verbal (controls) were deployed ineffectively. Two of our police, one community member and the (offender) were injured. This to me is a case study of the risks posed by our police and members of the community in these circumstances."
Superintendent Lindsay said violent incidents concerning ice addicts such as the one in Woodburn occurred about once a month in the Lismore region.
He agreed this would take a toll on the mental health of first responders.
"Attending such violent incidents over a career has been proven to provide trauma to our police," he said.