Australia, often described as the ‘lucky country’, will need more than a bit of luck to tackle its growing and widespread problem with drug consumption.
The release of the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program report this week, the fourth of its kind, provided some shocking home truths for country’s 24 million population to digest. But, it appears, the report is not the only thing Australians are digesting.
An astonishing three tons of cocaine, 1.2 tons of MDMA and over 700 kilos of heroin were digested by Australians from August 2016 to August 2017. Concerning Australian authorities was the fact that a mind-blowing (literally) eight tonnes of methamphetamine (meth, Ice) were smoked, snorted or shot up.
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s fourth National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program report, highlighted the growth in illegal drug consumption throughout Australia.
Wastewater management and analysis is used to measure, quantify and understand drug usage in national populaces. An internationally recognized form of monitoring drug use, the Australian Government has partnered with academic institutions in the science sphere to roll out a nationwide program similar to other international models.
The Report Findings
The report highlighted a worrying increasing trend in illicit drug consumption since August 2017, with methylamphetamine the drug of choice. Western Australia and Adelaide posted the highest average of Meth use, with Perth coming in a close second.
Cocaine consumption in Sydney and New South Wales recorded noticeable increases, whilst nicotine and alcohol continue to be the most popular of all non-illicit drugs.
Wastewater analysis showed that cocaine use more than doubled in Australia’s capital cities and nearly tripled across regional areas since the release of the first report in August 2016.
Angus Taylor, Australia’s Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Minister, praised the report and the understanding it gives.
Mr Taylor said: “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.”
“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.” Taylor continued.
The National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program report analysed a total of 12.7 million Australians’ drug consumption, approximately 50% of the population and tested the wastewater retrieved from 45 treatment wastewater plants throughout Australia.
The report centred on 12 drugs, but did not include marijuana.
The Australian government is set to invest around $300 million to fund the National Ice Action Strategy, with the aim of improving Meth education, prevention, after care, treatment, and strengthen engagement with troubled communities.
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s (ACIC) was also given a further $3.6 million to help develop a nationwide program to track the consumption of drugs through wastewater analysis over the next three years, part of nine reports scheduled for release.