A new app has been developed by a couple who have witnessed the devastating effects of crystal meth on users. People who are addicted to the deadly drug, also known as ice, often develop weeping sores on their faces as their reliance on the drug increases.
Haydn Cooke and Trinity Lonel, who live near Wangaratta have created the app "Ice Effex" to warn users about the drug's side effects. The app allows the users to take a selfie and alters their appearance to show how it would have deteriorated after 3, 6 or 12 months using the drug.
‘The app was designed to especially warn teenagers about the side effects of drug abuse by showing the deterioration of their physical appearance.
"I see the devastation that ice has on families, not just the individual but families and communities. And the cost financially, emotionally, physically, psychologically on individuals, families and communities," said Mr Cooke, an alcohol and drug case manager at Odyssey House.
The couple said that in the past few years they have seen ice use in their community increase exponentially.
"Just over the past year or so we've seen so much ice... It used to be heroin, cannabis, alcohol mainly. Ice use has just gone through the roof," said Mr Cooke.
The app provides information on each stage and about the way the drug affects your body. The couple self-funded the app. They aimed to take the message on the physical effects of the drug to the young population.
"With having children and seeing what they're like, they're so obsessed with appearance. Every teenager we know - our kids and their friends - they all have a phone and all take selfies all the time. We're combining the two things they love - taking selfies and using technology," said Mr Cooke.
The couple hopes that people seeing themselves as an ice addict will help them better understand the devastation it causes. The app can be used as a tool for parents to open up the conversation with their children on drug addiction.
"Hopefully that image is seared in their brain if they're ever out and offered ice. If you see the effects on someone else you can easily disassociate yourself from that. But to actually see yourself in that way, hopefully that makes a difference," said Mr Cooke.
The app is currently available for download on iPhones from the App Store. The app is also used in schools and drug education programs.