The use, treatment and availability of ‘ice’ have increased, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Ice is the crystal form of methylamphetamine, and is more commonly smoked, but can also be injected, snorted or swallowed.
The report, Trends in methylamphetamine availability, use and treatment 2003-04 to 2013-14, shows that the number of new meth/amphetamine users (including methylamphetamine and amphetamine users) who mainly use ‘ice’ has increased.
“The proportion of new meth/amphetamine users opting for ice, rather than other forms of the drug (for example powder), increased from 26% in 2007, to 43% in 2013,” says AIHW spokesperson Geoff Neideck.
Treatment episodes for people who smoke amphetamines (including methylamphetamines) increased from 3.4% in 2003-04 to 41% in 2013-14.
While over the same period, the proportion of clients who inject amphetamines has decreased, from 79% of episodes to 44%. This suggests an increase in the number of people receiving treatment for ‘ice.
Available information on those who inject ice suggests that more users report the drug is easy to obtain.
While ice use is increasing, meth/amphetamine use in general has declined in recent years.
“In 2013, around 1.3 million people-or 7% of Australians-had used meth/amphetamine in their lifetime, and 2.1% had used them recently,” Neideck says.
“This is compared to in 2004, when recent users comprised 3.2% of Australians.”
The report shows, however, that recent meth/amphetamine users are now using more frequently, especially when ice is the main form used.
“In 2013, 25% of recent users whose main form was ‘ice’ reported using at least weekly, which was twice as many as 2010,” Neideck says.
Both users and clients receiving treatment are more likely to be male, and the largest age group overall was between 20 and 29.
Higher proportions of Indigenous Australians are now using meth/amphetamines than other Australians, 3.1% compared with 2.0%.
Law enforcement data for amphetamine-type stimulants has shown a rapid increase in production and supply over recent years.
“For example, the identification of ATS at the Australian border increased by 86% between 2011-12 and 2012-13, and a further 18% in 2013-14,” Neideck says.