WA meth and ecstasy capital of Australia: 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey

WA meth and ecstasy capital of Australia: 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey

WEST Australians are topping the national average for methamphetamine and ecstasy use, but people are smoking less cigarettes.

This is according to data from the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) today.

West Australians have the highest meth use in the nation with 2.7 per cent of people reportedly using the drug.

This is higher than the national average of 1.4 per cent.

However, use of methamphetamine has dropped since 2013.

People in WA are also the most likely to use ecstasy with 3.2 per cent of people in 2016 reportedly using the drug.

However, smoking rates are declining with 63 per cent of West Australians aged 14 and over saying they have never smoked.

This rate has risen from 57 per cent of people in 2013, aged 14 and over saying they had never smoked.

Western Australians are also drinking less with the report stating the proportion of people never consuming a full serve of alcohol in Western Australia rising from 10.3 per cent in 2013 to 15.2 per cent in 2016.

The use of illicit drugs is still high in Western Australia.

While the State reported slight declines over a six-year period, it is still above the national average with 16.8 per cent of people using compared to 15.6 per cent.

Country Western Australia still has high rates of drinking and illicit drug use with Primary Healthcare Networks reporting that more than 20 per cent of Country Western Australians are using illicit drugs.

Country Western Australia had the highest proportion of lifetime risky drinkers with 29 per cent of people drinking at unsafe levels.

Rates of mental illness high for methamphetamine and ecstasy users.

In 2016, 42 per cent of methamphetamine users had a mental illness, up from 29 per cent in 2013. The rate of mental illness among ecstasy users also rose from 18 per cent to 27 per cent.

A couple of factors may be contributing to this trend, including the growing numbers of people abusing ice, says AIHW spokesperson Mr Mathew James.

“Over that time period between 2010 to 2016 there’s been a big rise in the share of methamphetamine users who use ice as the main form; it grew from 22 per cent in 2010 to 57 per cent in 2016,” Mr James told AAP.

“Ice users tend to use the drug quite frequently; 32 per cent are using it at least weekly,” he said.

“So the big rise in diagnosed or treated mental illness among methamphetamine is probably, at least in part, to that shift towards ice.”

However it’s too hard to say if the drugs are causing mental illness or vice versa, says Mr James.

“Drug use is a complex issue and it’s difficult to determine to what degree drug use causes mental health problems and to what degree mental health problems give rise to drug use.”