Cocaine, ice, heroin, MDMA use not hit by cost-of-living crisis

Cocaine, heroin, ice and MDMA are still rife within our communities despite rising costs.

·3-min read
A composite image of a person holding a glass pipe commonly used to ingest illicit drugs and a large bag of methamphetamine intercepted by the Australian Federal Police (AFP).
The rising cost of living hasn't hampered Aussies drug-taking habits. (Source: Getty / AFP)

The rising cost of living has caused Aussies to pull back spending in many areas, but not when it comes to their more hedonistic habits.

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s latest wastewater snapshot revealed more than 14 tonnes of methylamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and MDMA were detected in wastewater systems between August 2021 and August 2022.

The report said that was a reduction of around 10 per cent compared to last year, but that was attributed to an increase in drug busts rather than financial pressures.

"Those drugs had an estimated street value of $10 billion, which is a real concern at a time when household budgets across the country were stretched," the commission's principal drug adviser, Shane Neilson, told AAP.

More than 83 per cent of that haul was methylamphetamine, which could be turned into other drugs like ice and speed. MDMA usage fell 41 per cent and cocaine dropped by almost a third.

"The median national street price of a cocaine 'deal' is less than the price for a crystal methylamphetamine 'deal', so price does not appear to be a factor in the decreased consumption of cocaine," the report said.

It's estimated 600 kilograms of cocaine was seized in 2022, which was about double the amount thought to have been ingested.

Data for the report was collected in August and October 2022 from 58 wastewater plants across Australia, covering about 14 million people.

The data also found Ketamine and cannabis were also growing in popularity, while nicotine and alcohol remained the most commonly used substances and consumption was relatively stable.

December was the most popular time to consume drugs, believed to be due to a combination of organised crime groups ramping up supply during party season and more opportunities for people to take them, the report found.

Cost of living crisis

The cost of living rose 7.4 per cent in the year to January 2023, according to the latest inflation data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The most significant contributors to the annual increase in the January monthly read were housing (up 9.8 per cent), food and non-alcoholic beverages (up 8.2 per cent) and recreation and culture (up 10.2 per cent).

Almost half of all Australians (46 per cent) have reported elevated distress from cost-of-living pressures.

Suicide Prevention Australia’s latest quarterly Community Tracker, found further increases in distress in housing affordability (23 per cent) – and now unemployment (21 per cent), particularly amongst “middle-age, middle-wage” Australians.

- With AAP

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

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