Australians are taking more illicit drugs with crystal meth one of the top poisons of choice, a new report reveals.
More than eight tonnes of methylamphetamine, three tonnes of cocaine, 1.2 tonnes of MDMA and 700-plus kilograms of heroin have been consumed between August 2016 to August 2017, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s (ACIC) March report reveals.
The fourth National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program report found an overall increase in illicit drug consumption across the country from the previous report in August 2017.
However, the report did not test for levels of cannabis. Marijuana is presumed by experts to be the most widely used illicit drug, and alcohol the most widely used legal drug.
Based on the waste water results, South Australia had the highest per-capita consumption of methylamphetamine (also known as ‘meth’ or ‘ice’) while Western Australia has had the highest average regional consumption of the drug in December, the report reveals.
Wastewater testing revealed cocaine consumption doubled in Australian capital cities and almost tripled in regional sites since August 2016.
Average cocaine and heroin use was higher in capital cities while the average nicotine, methylamphetamine, MDA, oxycodone and fentanyl consumption was higher at regional sites.
NSW recorded the highest average capital city and regional site use of cocaine in the country, while NSW and Qld had the highest average regional consumption of MDMA in Australia.
Victoria and the ACT recorded the nation’s highest average capital city heroin intake.
Yet alcohol and nicotine topped the list for the most consumed substances across the nation.
The report focuses on 12 drugs; methylamphetamine, amphetamine, cocaine, MDMA, MDA, heroin, mephedrone, methylone, oxycodone, fentanyl, nicotine and alcohol.
Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Minister Angus Taylor said the report gave law enforcement agencies a more accurate understanding of the demand for illicit drugs.
“Methylamphetamine consumption is generally higher in regional areas than in capital cities, and accurately identifying the worst-affected areas ensures we can more effectively target our law enforcement and prevention strategies and measure their impact,” Mr Taylor said.
“We know drug traffickers are increasingly global while maintaining local distribution networks, so we need to be more sophisticated than ever before in our fight against this devastating scourge.”
The report measured about 12.7 million Australians’ consumption of drugs and analysed wastewater from 45 treatment plants across the country.
The federal government will invest about $300 million to support actions towards the National Ice Action Strategy to improve treatment, after-care, education, prevention and community engagement.
The ACIC has also been given $3.6 million to develop a national program to monitor drug consumption through wastewater over three years – with nine reports to be published.