Almost 270,000 Australians aged between 15 and 54 years are regular users of methamphetamine, and over half of those are dependent on the drug, according to research published today by the Medical Journal of Australia.
Researchers led by Professor Louisa Degenhardt, from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, estimated the overall numbers of regular and dependent methamphetamine users in Australia for each year from 2002 to 2014, and the numbers by age group (15 to 24, 25 to 34, 35 to 44 and 45 to 54 years).
They found that in 2013 to 2014 there were 268,000 regular methamphetamine users and 160,000 dependent users aged 15 to 54 years in Australia.
"This equates to population rates of 2.09 per cent for regular and 1.24 per cent for dependent use," Professor Degenhardt and colleagues wrote. "The rate of dependent use had increased since 2009 to 2010 (when the rate was estimated to be 0.74 per cent), and was higher than the previous peak (1.22 per cent in 2006 to 2007).
"The highest rates of use were consistently among those aged 25 to 34 years. In 2012 to 2013, the estimated rate of methamphetamine dependence in this age group was 1.50 per cent.
It is also important to note the recent increase in estimated dependent use among those aged 15 to 24 years: in 2012 to 2013, the rate was estimated to be 1.14 per cent.”
The authors concluded that the increased number of problem methamphetamine users indicates a need to expand services, to redress the health problems associated with regular methamphetamine use.