More Young People Are Using Meth Than Ever Before

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.

Image: Shutterstock

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.

[Medical Journal of Australia]

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    My niece, in that age range that would be most likely, put it simply. For $20 you can get a hit of (insert drug here) and be wasted all night, or spend $8 per drink and need 10 of em to get the same effect. They are cheap enough to be an option, and the feeling is immediate.

      Was coming here to write something to that effect. Basically by taxing/restricting alcohol as much as we do, it leaves kids looking for something affordable to get a kick from...

      This is a problem of our own devising and it's not because meth is the attractive option, but rather that it is the fiscally thrifty option.

        So an answer to the drug problem is cheaper booze?

          No it just shows the effects of increasing alcohol pricing.
          People often use alcohol or other drugs as stress releases or to boost enjoyment. To me it shows more sociological issues are at heart than the drugs themselves. But yeah people will go for the cheaper options.

    So at, say, $30 a hit that's $8 million per day or nearly $3 billion tax free. No wonder crime syndicates are all over it and why pop media is so keen on showing drug use as cool.

    Sad that people need to be out of it to live their lives. Luckily I have a different view of the world and wasn't able to eat up the crap pop media feeds everyone. (Sure I have my own problems but drugs and alcohol are not one of them.)

      If it where actually that expensive I don't know if the effects would be positive or negative.
      Could go either way, less people using it or more crime...

      But pricing here(I live in a small country town) is $10-$30 a gram.... less/equal to marijuana but for a quantity that could kill someone.

    Legalize ecstasy and watch ice fade into obscurity.

      It really won't. The kinds of people who are on methamphetamine aren't on it because they can't get MDMA, they're on it because they want the potent effects from ice. Speaking with patients the hits are different, it isn't just about euphoria.

      That said MDMA and marijuana are the only two recreational drugs I think could be successfully legalised so long as there was tight control on production and the law was modified to significantly increase personal responsibility for actions while intoxicated. The only problem I see is that so many people lack self control with alcohol that I wonder how they'd go with other substances.

        I know someone who recently went to, basically a drug culture festival. Several thousand people there for almost a week, most of them high as a kite, and by all accounts not a single fight occurred.
        Compare that to any night drinking in any town.

        Not my scene but worth noting.

        Last edited 29/02/16 2:43 pm

          You're of course right, which is why I don't necessarily have a problem with MDMA being legalised (so long as laws enforce personal responsibility for intoxication). That said, alcohol is readily available and thus we see many more problems caused by it because anybody can get absolutely shitfaced whenever they want. If you legalised major stimulants like cocaine or amphetamines, or depressants like heroin, we'd see just as much drama.

        Look at the time line. When true MDMA was about, ice was never as large. Then gov cracked down and left a hole. Ice filled that hole. I actually started using ice when I couldn't get any true ecstacy but then dropped it when I found out how bad it was.

          Pretty much none of the patients I talk to on methamphetamines do it because they can't get MDMA. They want that euphoria as well as the increased feeling of energy from the dopamine and noradrenaline release. The ones on ice are just fucked up. I think your MDMA decline/ice rise is the old correlation != causation argument.

          Almost all of the regular addicts I have to attend can get MDMA whenever they want as well as a host of other substances. But now they prefer meth because of its additional effects. Why you'd want to stay awake for days on end is a mystery to me though.

        You couldn't be more incorrect. I only started using ICE after the MDMA drought that a certain tomato tin bust in sydney + cambodian safrole forestation (by the AFP no-less) created. I can honestly say if pills and the like were available during this time, ICE would not be a factor in my drug use, at all.

          You're the exception here, not the rule. People do pills for a fun night out and are very unlikely to go on an extended bender. People do ice to stay up for days. Ecstasy users may find ice as an okay substitute, but ice users would never think the same thing about ecstasy.

            I really can't respect your opinion because you seem so out of touch, your opinions seem to be based off what the media has fed you and not personal experience. Whilst I would love to be the exception to the rule, I know I am not because my eyes work.

              My opinion is based on my personal experience of using and also doing some volunteering in harm reduction back around a decade ago. Maybe things have changed, but back then ecstasy was mostly MDMA and it wasn't something you would binge on 24 hours a day for a week straight. Which is what your average ice head wants to do.

    That's pretty sad.
    Too bad you can't inoculate people against the effects, that'd be a good way to stop usage.

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