Drug use in Australia is at the highest level since 2001: AIHW Survey

News Desk

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) said that drug use in Australia is at the highest level since 2001 and the media and Covid-19 could be to blame.

According to a new report issued by the AIHW, over 11 percent of Aussies aged 14 and older use cocaine regularly. The study said that the proportion of people who think it’s OK for adults to use cocaine regularly has grown in the recent decade.

The report revealed that the number of people who admitted to using cocaine in the course of a year has increased from one percent to 4.2 percent between 2004 and 2019. Between 2016 and 2019, particularly, the number of respondents who reported using it at least once a month increased by more than 50 percent. The actual number could be even higher as not every drug user is willing to admit it, even anonymously.

Beside cocaine, the report mentions ecstasy, methamphetamines, hallucinogens and heroin as the most popular substances among Australian drug addicts.

The study said that in 2019, in the country of 25 million, about 36 percent of the population had illicitly used drugs at some point in their lifetime, and 3.4 million had used one in the last 12 months. That increase may be due to a variety of factors affecting public perception of drug use, including the legal status of the drug, culture and family attitudes, peer relationships, public health and safety campaigns, the AIHW says.

The research said that a range of factors, including media coverage and personal experience, are likely to influence people’s perceptions of drug use. Meanwhile, other experts claim that the coronavirus crisis added to Australia’s drug problem.

For instance, the chief executive of The Buttery, a rehabilitation center in New South Wales, Leone Crayden has expressed her concerns about rising substance abuse in the country amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Leone Crayden told the Guardian, “We’re really concerned about what’s coming down the line in the next six months. Alcohol sales are up, people are hoarding prescription medicines.”

During only one week in April, spending on alcohol and tobacco increased by 33 percent, according to the analytics consultancy AlphaBeta and credit firm Illion.

Australia has also been witnessing an increase in drug-related deaths in the past 15 years. The lack of intelligent government action to impose strong anti-drug legislation makes the situation even worse, the Asia and the Pacific Policy Society researchers say.

A special independent commission found out earlier this year, Australia may need to work on its rehabilitation programs. In the state of New South Wales alone, up to 500,000 people are unable to access treatment for drug and alcohol addiction each year.

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