Crystal methamphetamine, popularly known in Australia as ice, is one of the more dangerous illicit drugs out there. As a powerful stimulant, crystal meth use can lead to convulsions, bizarre, and erratic behaviours in the short term among other things. Long term users, on the other hand, are exposing themselves to permanent damage to the vessels of the heart and brain, high blood pressure, respiratory problems, and many other serious health issues.
For all its inherent dangers, crystal meth remains a popular drug of choice for many drug users in major urban centres. In the case of Australia, however, the popularity of the drug has spread to its rural areas, and this escalation in meth use has alarmed authorities and citizens alike.
Ice use in Australia has generally been on the rise since the 21st century, but there has been an upswing in ice use since 2011. Over the last three years, a 10 percent increase in ice use has been recorded, according to the Australian National Drug and Research Centre. The number of people arrested after getting caught using amphetamines have more than tripled since 1996.
The increase in recent years has been so significant that people are beginning to declare an epidemic of methamphetamine use. In the Australian island of Tasmania, for example, health authorities are estimating that up to 10 per cent of the population are meth users. Tasmania isn’t just the only rural area being hit with an upsurge in ice use. Even regional Victorian towns and some of Melbourne’s outer suburbs are experiencing a rapid increase in the use of crystal meth. Health workers in those areas are reporting that children as young as 12 years old are being exposed to the world of crystal meth.
With the rise in crystal meth use in rural areas, incidences of crime have increased as well. In Central Victoria’s Loddon region, for example, armed robberies, many of which are suspected to be ice-related, have risen. Crystal meth has also been identified as a factor in violent crimes in other rural areas of Australia.
Astronomical price of crystal meth in Australia
It is believed that the high price that crystal meth commands in Australia is the reason why drug cartels are expanding their market from the cities and are transporting them to rural areas of the country. Statistics from the Australian Crime Commission says the market value of crystal meth in Australia is three times higher than in the United States. The disparity with the Chinese market is even bigger, as ice in Australia is 46 times more expensive.
Alarmed by the ice epidemic, local authorities are gradually documenting evidence of the ice problem with the aim of presenting the data to the government, in the hopes that it would fund a specialised drug rehabilitation service to deal with the growing crystal meth problem in Australia.
We can only hope that the government actually intensifies the campaign against ice in Australia. The ice epidemic seems to worsen by the day, killing people and tearing families apart. Only a focused government program can remedy the problem, and it couldn’t come any sooner.