State meth use on the rise

Ice on the rise: WA has the highest overall per capita consumption of methylamphetamine, according to the latest wastewater results. Photo: Supplied.
Ice on the rise: WA has the highest overall per capita consumption of methylamphetamine, according to the latest wastewater results. Photo: Supplied.

Methylamphetamine use in Western Australia is higher than any other state, according to the latest results from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission's sixth National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program report.

Based on the findings from the analysis, which was conducted in June and August 2018, WA had the highest overall per capita consumption of the drug.

After a slight decline in use across the state in early 2018, methylamphetamine consumption - commonly called methamphetamine, 'meth' or 'ice' - is once again sitting well above the regional and capital city averages throughout Australia.

Monitoring the wastewater three capital cities and three regional sites throughout the state, WA has also recorded an increase in the consumption of alcohol, MDMA, MDA, oxycodone, fentanyl and heroin.

Meanwhile regional WA saw a decline in nicotine use and no change in the consumption of cocaine.

Across the country, the report also revealed Australians spend more than $9.3 billion each year on drugs.

Using data between August 2017 and August 2018, it is estimated more than 9.6 tonnes of methamphetamine is consumed in Australia each year, as well as more than 4 tonnes of cocaine, 1.1 tonnes of MDMA and more than 700 kilograms of heroin.

However Palmerston chief executive Emma Jarvis said people seeking support for meth use in WA had dropped.

"The 2018 annual report data illustrates a decline in meth presentations to Palmerston's services in 2017/18 following significant increases in the three previous years," she said.

"We have observed that meth presentations to our Mandurah community alcohol and drug service reduced in 2018 to 31.2 per cent of total presentations, as compared to 32.3 per cent and 34.1 per cent in the two previous years.

"We believe this to be attributed to a combination of policing, prevention and treatment, and effective collaboration between agencies delivering these services."

Ms Jarvis said Palmerston's new South-West residential service was proving to be particularly successful since its opening in February 2018.

The facility has already treated 73 participants with almost 50 per cent of the clients affected by meth, while 45 per cent were alcohol users and the remainder a mixture of cannabis, heroin and benzodiazepines.

In an effort to tackle the meth issue plaguing the state, the WA government invested an extra $42.5 million towards the Methamphetamine Action Plan as part of the 2019/20 budget.

The cash injection will provide more support and safe places for individuals and families in crisis, more education for health professionals working with people impacted by meth use and more prevention and harm reduction targeting school and public education programs.

Additional initiatives as part of the multi-million dollar package will include $1.52 million to expand the needle syringe exchange program in high-demand regional areas including Bunbury, and $4.83 million to establish a 10-bed crisis centre in Midland.

An extra $21.2 million will also expand the WA Meth Border Force, which has already been hard at work seizing record amounts of meth and disrupting criminal syndicates.

WA police minister Michelle Roberts said it was important to address the issue from a number of different angles.

"While our police are doing a great job intercepting meth and taking it out of our suburbs and country towns, it's important we also invest in treatment facilities and support for those addicted to it," she said.

"We've invested $125.9 million in our Meth Border Force, with an additional 100 police and 20 professional staff, as well as sophisticated drug detection technology."

WA health minister Roger Cook said the government were focusing on providing more support for individuals and families.

"Most of us have seen the harms and ill-effects methamphetamine use has on families and our community," he said.

"Our continued commitment to the Methamphetamine Action Plan and the fulfilment of the supported recommendations of the taskforce report will help make Western Australia a healthier and safer place."