WA’s meth epidemic shows no signs of abating

Stock image.
Stock image.

WA’S obsession with methamphetamine continues, with the state’s regional users the most prolific in the country and Perth among Australia’s two worst cities for abusing the drug.

The latest national wastewater study estimated more than eight tonnes of methamphetamine is consumed annually in Australia.

Perth was second only to Adelaide for methamphetamine use per capita in metro areas.

The study found average national use was higher in regional areas than in the city, with consumption having increased since last year.

That trend matched the situation in WA with meth use increasing in city and regional areas.

The use of ecstasy and cocaine increased in Perth but remained stable in country towns.

Heroin use decreased in both areas.

Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Angus Taylor said law enforcement agencies had to be “more sophisticated than ever before in our fight against this devastating scourge”.

“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.

“Our stronger partnerships with international agencies has resulted in record seizures in the past year.

“This program is one of the best in the world, and Australia is one of the only countries where a wastewater analysis program is fully funded by the government.

“Meth continues to pose significant challenges for our community, and a multi-faceted approach drawing on global best practice is crucial if we are going to protect our communities from these illicit drugs.”

KEY FINDINGS BY SUBSTANCE

Methylamphetamine
• Consumption of methylamphetamine increased in both capital city and regional sites.
• On average, consumption was higher in regional areas than in capital cities.
• In December 2017, South Australia had the highest average capital city consumption and Western Australia had the highest average regional consumption.
• The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission estimates that over eight tonnes of methylamphetamine is consumed annually in Australia. That is more than the estimated consumed weight of cocaine, MDMA and heroin combined.
• The weight of methylamphetamine seized by the Australian Federal Police in 2016–17 equated to over forty per cent of the total weight needed to meet national demand.

Cocaine
• Cocaine consumption increased in both capital city and regional sites.
• On average, capital city consumption was almost double that of regional sites.
• In December 2017, New South Wales had the highest capital city and regional average consumption.
• The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission estimates that over three tonnes of cocaine is consumed in Australia annually.
• The weight of cocaine seized by the Australian Federal Police in 2016–17 exceeded the estimated amount needed to meet national demand.

3, 4-methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA)
• MDMA consumption remained relatively stable in capital city sites, but there was an increase in regional sites.
• In December 2017, the Northern Territory had the highest average capital city consumption and New South Wales and Queensland had the highest average regional consumption.
• The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission estimates that over 1.2 tonnes of MDMA is consumed in Australia annually.
• The weight of MDMA seized by the Australian Federal Police in 2016–17 equalled the estimated amount needed to meet national demand.

3, 4-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA)
• Consumption of MDA is higher in regional sites than in city sites.
• Very high MDA consumption was recorded in a single site in Queensland in December 2017.
• In December 2017, Tasmania had the highest average capital city consumption and New South Wales and Queensland had the highest average regional consumption.

Heroin
• Heroin consumption decreased from August to December 2017.
• Consumption is higher in capital cities, than in regional sites.
• In December 2017, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria had the highest average capital city consumption, with New South Wales the highest average regional consumption.
• The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission estimates that 765 kilograms of heroin is consumed in Australia annually.
• The amount of heroin seized by the Australian Federal Police in 2016–17 was around a quarter of that required to meet national demand.

Mephedrone
• This new psychoactive substance is a synthetic stimulant and was mostly detected below the level at which it could be reliably quantified.
• In December 2017, it was detected 23 times at six sites which were all located in New South Wales and Queensland.

Methylone
• This new psychoactive substance is a synthetic stimulant and was mostly detected below the level at which it could be reliably quantified.
• In December 2017, it was detected 65 times at 17 sites located in all states with the exception of the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia.

Oxycodone
• Oxycodone is an opioid pharmaceutical with therapeutic application, but is also diverted to the illicit market.
• Wastewater analysis cannot distinguish between licit and illicit use of oxycodone.
• Oxycodone consumption remained relatively stable in regional sites, but it increased in capital cities.
• Regional consumption was almost double the capital city average.
• In December 2017, Tasmania had the highest average capital city consumption and Victoria had the highest regional consumption.

Fentanyl
• Fentanyl is an opioid pharmaceutical with therapeutic application, but is also diverted to the illicit market.
• Wastewater analysis cannot distinguish between licit and illicit use of fentanyl.
• Fentanyl consumption remained relatively stable in both capital city and regional sites.
• In December 2017, Tasmania had the highest estimated average capital city consumption and Queensland had the highest regional consumption.

Nicotine
• Nicotine remains one of the most consumed drugs in Australia.
• Consumption is higher in regional sites than in capital cities.
• In December 2017, the Northern Territory and Tasmania had the highest capital city consumption and Tasmania had the highest regional consumption.
Alcohol
• Alcohol remains one of the most consumed drugs in Australia.
• No significant differences in average alcohol consumption were observed between capital city sites and regional sites.
• In December 2017, the Northern Territory had the highest average capital city and regional consumption.