Esperance youth petitions for an end to drugs in regional WA | Express' top 10 of 2016

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The Express is counting down the top 10 most read stories of 2016. Here’s what came in at number one.

October 4, 2016: At the tender age of 20, Sharn Campbell has seen more tragedy over the past two years than most people would dread to see over a lifetime.

Since 2015 he has lost two friends and his stepfather and he blames one thing, methamphetamine.

“I’ve just recently lost another mate a week ago to suicide and that’s drug related as well and that was a year after another one of my friends in Esperance did the same thing,” Mr Campbell said.

“Both were drug related, one was 19, one was 23.”

Mr Campbell said his stepdad died this year after he suffered a stroke caused by increased blood pressure attributed to meth use.

Melissa Brown from Kalgoorlie shared Sharn's concerns for her own town.

Melissa Brown from Kalgoorlie shared Sharn's concerns for her own town.

He said his stepdad had only used meth a few times but it was enough to have a fatal effect.

“It was pretty unexpected, especially being 37 you don’t really hear of too many people having strokes at that age,” he said.

Mr Campbell said his mum is an ex-user and moved to Perth to escape her addiction.

“She’s doing pretty well, she’s got a job and she’s making progress,” he said.

He said he hoped his stepdad’s passing was a wake up call for his mum to stay away from drugs.

Mr Campbell wanted to see something done about the epidemic and has decided to take matters into his own hands.

He started a petition on Monday requesting better treatment for drug addicts in regional Western Australia and hoped he could get enough signatures to capture the attention of the Federal Government.

He said he would like to see more facilities in major regional hubs such as Bunbury, Albany, Kalgoorlie and Esperance.

Steve Gosch  from New South Wales confirms drug addiction is widespread across the country.

Steve Gosch from New South Wales confirms drug addiction is widespread across the country.

Mr Campbell believed if his friends were offered more support, the outcome could have been different.

“I see a lot of friends who go to rehab and relapse as soon as they come back to Esperance because they’re straight back with the same friends doing the same thing,” he said.

He said he had seen people as young as 15 being exposed to drugs.

Mr Campbell has lived in Perth for the past two years while he studies at the University of Western Australia.

He said Esperance was a trap for drug users and the town had gone downhill dramatically in the time he had been in Perth.

He said he is currently in Esperance to help his pop look after his 12-year-old brother as his grandmother recently passed away. 

“I don’t enjoy coming back to this town at all,” he said.

“There’s a mass exodus at the moment, especially with my age group, because they just want to move to Perth and get away from Esperance.”

He said the lack of facilities put pressure on families who have to move 800 kilometres away to get help for their loved ones.

“A mate of mine was going through the same thing and his family had to sell up and move to Perth to help him,” Mr Campbell said.

People from all over Australia are leaving comments on Sharn's petition, expressing their own concerns about drug use in Australia.

People from all over Australia are leaving comments on Sharn's petition, expressing their own concerns about drug use in Australia.

“Not everyone has the chance to do that, not everyone has job opportunities in Perth.”

He said his biggest fear was that meth would change the culture of Esperance permanently.

“It’s not going to change any time soon,” he said.

But Mr Campbell said politicians weren’t listening and there wasn’t enough being done.

“Even with the hospital I know they’ve been trying to get that emergency department for a number of years and already it’s under equipped,” he said.

“I’ve been up there and there’s been people suffering from withdrawals and psychosis and they’re in the same area as small kids that have broken their arm.”

He said he had experienced people close to him exhibiting aggressive behavior while high on meth and “it wasn’t pretty”.

“There needs to be separate facilities,” he said.

Mr Campbell’s petition had received a staggering 300 signatures in the first 24 hours.

He said the comments on his change.org petition indicated people in other regional towns shared his sentiment.

“It needs to be more proactive than reactive, we need to get on top of things before they happen,” he said.

Mr Campbell’s change.org petition was available to sign at https://goo.gl/9tOd1P.

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