Australia is an awesome country, and there are a lot of things that Aussies can be proud of. This, however, certainly would not be one of them. The United Nations has released its 2014 World Drug Report, revealing Australia to be the top recreational drug-using country in the entire world in 2014.
Australia tops in Ecstasy use
If it’s any consolation, Australia only ranked first in the use of Ecstasy. According to the United Nations report, three percent of Australia’s working age population regularly use Ecstasy, also known as MDMA. It is a favourite drug of people who frequent raves or dance parties. It has also caused deaths among young users, usually because the victims thought they were using real MDMA, but actually ingested a deadly cocktail of various chemicals.
We may not be the number one user of cocaine in the world, but Australia is one of the top 5 cocaine-using countries. With 2.1 percent of the working-age population using cocaine, Australia has managed to land the 4th spot in world cocaine use. We have also ranked third for methamphetamines and seventh for cannabis.
What’s even more disturbing, however, is the finding that Australia ranked second for the use of opiods, which are typically legally prescribed pain medications such as codeine or morphine. Prescription drugs like opioids are already one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and it’s frightening to imagine that more and more Australians are beginning to pop an opioid or two for pain relief.
Number of Australian users will continue to rise
Even more frightening is the report’s forecast that the number of Australians engaging in recreational drug use will continue to rise. It says that in Australia, “expert opinion points to an increase in the consumption of cannabis, cocaine, hallucinogens, and solvents and inhalants”.
It’s already bad enough that Australia is known for its drinking culture, but the top drug-using country in the world? Why and how did this happen?
Great demand for illicit drugs
For starters, there is great demand for illicit drugs in Australia. Experts often blame this demand on a new generation of Aussies with a lot of cash at their disposal. They have more money to spend, and with the sheer volume and availability of recreational drugs marketed for the younger generation, these drugs seem more and more attractive to them.
Economic and social conditions such as high levels of unemployment and poor job prospects are also being blamed for the rise of recreational drug use in Australia. The same goes for the government, which is perceived by many to have relaxed its war against drugs. In Victoria alone, there is an ongoing ice epidemic that authorities can’t seem to stop. Within five years, ice-related deaths have more than doubled, with many ice users dying due to overdose, suicide, and fatal road crashes.
Then again, we can hope all we want that the government steps up its campaign against all kinds of illicit drugs, but if the demand for them remains high, we should not be surprised that Australia would be on its way towards becoming the top users of drugs—all types of illicit drugs—in the world.