Australians, and in particular regional Australians, are taking more drugs than ever the latest Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program report revealed this week.
In the 12 months between August 2016 and July 2017 it is estimated that the nation consumed 8.3 tonnes of methylamphetamine, three tonnes of cocaine, 1280kg of MDMA and 700kg of heroin according to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission's (ACIC) report.
The report also shows that regardless of the efforts of law enforcement and the ongoing seizures of illicit drugs, manufacturers and distributors continue to be successful in servicing the Australian black markets.
Tamworth is one of eight NSW sites, and five regional NSW sites that have been selected for the Wastewater Testing program, which covers half of the nations population, and while ACIC won’t reveal site specific results, they have revealed that regional NSW is one of the worst affected areas.
As in the previous three reports, alcohol and tobacco continue to be the highest consumed drugs in Australia, and while methylamphetamine or ice is the highest consumed illicit substance per capita, use of cocaine in regional NSW has tripled since August 2016, while only doubling in Sydney.
Use of ice, fentanyl, MDA, and oxycodone are also higher in regional NSW than they are in the city per capita.
Tamworth councillor and chair of the Crime Prevention Working Group Russell Webb said that these trends are “really disturbing”, although still believes that law enforcement is the best way to approach the issue.
“The nation as a whole needs to have a real good look at what is happening,” Mr Webb said.
“We need discussions with all three levels of government and the police – but in all honesty I don’t know what the solution is. I do know that in order to get better outcomes to this growing social problem we need to do some extra work.”
Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Minister Angus Taylor said the report gave law enforcement agencies a more accurate understanding of the demand for illicit drugs.
“Accurately identifying the worst-affected areas ensures we can more effectively target our law enforcement and prevention strategies and measure their impact,” Mr Taylor said.
Meanwhile another set of statistics from the report prove that law enforcement is having a very limited impact on the drug trade.
Last year the Federal Police actually seized more cocaine than what the estimated demand was, while seizing 100 per cent of the estimated MDMA demand, and 40 per cent of the ice demand, and yet distributors still managed to flood the markets.
“It is evident that demand for these drugs remains robust and that a shared approach that targets supply, demand and harm reduction is critical to addressing drug use in Australia,” the report read.