It appears Australians are not slowing down their spending on illicit drugs. Annual wastewater reports highlight just how much Australians spent in the last year on the purchase of illicit drugs.
This is the sixth report of its kind and it covers 58 wastewater treatment plants across Australia, including regional sites and cities. The wastewater is tested for 13 substances, and the results are very concerning.
According to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Australian drug spending has reached an alarming $9.3 billion a year.
Annual Consumption of Drugs
The results of the Annual National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program shed light on the drug habits of Australians across all states. According to the wastewater reports, from August 2017 to 2018, Australians had an annual consumption of:
- 9.6 tonnes of methylamphetamine
- 4 tonnes of cocaine
- 1.1 tonnes of MDMA
- at least 700 kilograms of heroin
Basing on the street pricing of the drugs, that amounts to total spending of $9.3 billion. There is an evident decrease in MDMA and heroin use and an increase in methylamphetamine (ice), fentanyl, cocaine, nicotine, and alcohol use. This goes for capital cities and regional sites.
Drug Use In Australia: Regional vs. Capital City
There are fluctuations in drug use depending on the territory (regional vs. capital) across Australian states. For example, regional areas exceed nicotine, alcohol, methylamphetamine, MDMA, MDA, oxycodone, fentanyl, and cannabis use in capital cities. Whereas, capital city consumption of heroin and cocaine exceed that of regional consumption.
Australian Capital Territory
Test results show opioid consumption, namely oxycodone and fentanyl is on a steady rise in the Australian Capital Territory, running a close second to Tasmania’s ranking as the highest consumer of prescription drugs. Canberra also takes the top spot for the highest consumption of methylamphetamine or ice, with users taking more doses of the drug in a single day. Ice use among the youth of Canberra is on the rise. The ACT is also second to NSW when it comes to cocaine consumption.
New South Wales
Sydney still remains the cocaine capital of the country with the highest consumption rate of the drug. Meth use is also up in both Sydney and the regional parts of NSW. MDMA, the drug which was to blame for the deaths of festivalgoers, also saw a decrease in use. Research shows that the drug is used exclusively for recreational purposes. Cannabis use remains low in NSW compared to other parts of the country.
WA has the highest per capita recorded consumption of methylamphetamine in both capital city sites and regional sites. The state also has the second highest regional use of MDA nationwide. Cocaine consumption rose in capital city sites and remained stable in regional sites. Oxycodone, fentanyl, and heroin consumption rose in both regional and capital city sites.
There is a rise in methylamphetamine consumption in SA. In fact, it is the predominant stimulant consumed in the city of Adelaide. Cocaine consumption levels increase on weekends, while opioid consumption remains constant throughout the week.
Queensland, tied with the ACT, is also second to NSW when it comes to cocaine consumption. Regional consumption of the drug is among the highest in the country, with methylamphetamine or ice use steadily rising along with it.
The capital city sites of Victoria have the highest rates of heroin use in the country. Regional Victoria also has the second highest heroin and oxycodone average consumption in the country.
The two drugs that remain consistent across all states are alcohol and nicotine. They still remain the most consumed drugs in the country.
The results of the study are worrying. And in the words of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission Chief Executive Officer, Michael Phelan: “It is astounding that Australians waste over $9.3 billion a year on drugs. This is money people could be spending on legitimate goods for themselves and their families.”
What this study makes clear is widespread drug use in Australia that spans cities and regional areas. That Australians all over the country, regardless of income, are willing to spend on drugs increases the likelihood of hiring someone who is abusing drugs.
The costs of having a drug using employee are high. Drug and Alcohol use can severely impact health and workplace performance. It is best to have guidelines in place to ensure that you are able to address drug use early on before it’s too late.
Safework Laboratories have a wide range of services to help you maintain a safe and healthy workplace culture. We offer a comprehensive range of testing capabilities and associated services. Our laboratories are located strategically around Australia. So why not call us on 1300 795 227 for a confidential discussion.