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Australia’s new drug-use records: How we compare to the world

Australia’s new drug-use records: How we compare to the world

A recent snapshot of Australia’s drug use has found record-high levels of cocaine and methamphetamine — commonly referred to as meth or ice — in capital cities.
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) regularly releases reports on Australia’s drug use, from data obtained via wastewater testing.

The latest report, released on Thursday, was based on collections in December and February that covered around 55 per cent of Australia’s population — around 14.1 million people — and revealed trends across capital cities and regional areas.

What does drug use look like across different parts of Australia?

In capital cities, alcohol, cocaine, MDMA, MDA (a synthetic stimulant), heroin and ketamine all exceeded regional consumption.
Cocaine and meth use was also found to be at record highs in these areas.
In regional areas, the average consumption of nicotine, meth, cannabis and the synthetic opioids oxycodone and fentanyl exceeded the consumption in capital cities.

Cocaine and nicotine use was found to be at record highs in regional areas.

The use of different drugs also differs substantially across states and territories, with the highest rates of meth use in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.
ACIC CEO Heather Cook said the overall data presented a “stark reminder of the persistent and and its implications for public health and safety.”

“As we continue to combat this issue, it is crucial to understand underlying factors contributing to these trends and to develop targeted strategies to address them,” she said.

How does Australia’s drug use compare to the rest of the world?

ACIC compared drug use with 30 other countries across Europe, Oceania, Asia and North and South America that use the same testing standardised by a network of laboratories called the Sewage Core Group Europe (SCORE).
Australia ranked second of 30 SCORE countries for meth use after the United States, with Czechia, New Zealand and Slovakia following.

ACIC says the findings of meth use underscore the prevalence of the drug in the national stimulant market.

Australia also ranks highly for cannabis use, coming third of 20 SCORE countries, following the Netherlands and Spain.
However, Australia’s MDMA and cocaine use is lower than others, ranking 15th of 33 SCORE countries and 20th of 32 SCORE countries, respectively.

To access free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drugs, phone the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015.