Map sheds light on Australia's $10 billion a year drug problem

An interactive map shows what drugs are used most in each Australian state and territory.

A newly released report showing what illicit drugs Australians are using the most in each capital city and region has revealed a surprising ‘record low’ drop in one substance.

The bad habit costing an estimated $10 billion in drugs in the last year reveals more than 14 tonnes of methylamphetamine (MDA), cocaine, MDMA and heroin were consumed between August 2021 and August 2022, according to the latest National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program.

Out of the capital cities, Sydney has been bestowed the cocaine capital of the country, Melbourne revealed the most ecstasy detections, Darwin the highest user of nicotine and cannabis, Adelaide the most methylamphetamine, and Tasmania the consumer of the most fentanyl. As for ketamine, regional Queensland consumed the most in Australia. The interactive graph below shows the full breakdown for each state.

What are the surprising findings in the report?

Meth remains the most used drug nationally, with a whopping 9,018kg being consumed over the 12-month period, followed by cocaine at 3,385kg, heroin at 1,077kg and MDMA at 723kg.

Despite cocaine being the second most-used drug, the numbers are actually a "record low" — decreasing by 41 per cent on the previous year— thanks to police crackdowns of importations.

Most recently, a street value of $1billion in cocaine was intercepted by WA Police in November off the South American coastline, making it Australia's biggest drug bust.

MDMA use has also decreased — by 28 per cent — with the major reason being a shift in overseas organised crime groups towards when it comes to producing methylamphetamine, according to the report.

A photo of WA Police arresting two people on one vessel (left). Another photo of a vessel being towed away.
When cracking down on the biggest drug bust in Australia, police arrested two people on one of the vessels (left) before another vessel tows it away and allegedly transfers the inert cargo. Source: WA Police

What drugs are people consuming more of?

While there seems to be a 10 per cent decrease in drug consumption compared to last year, increases in the use of certain drugs remain worrying.

Sadly the use of methylamphetamine and heroin have risen, which Acting Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) CEO Matt Rippon finds "concerning".

“This is a concerning amount, both in terms of economic cost – the actual expenditure on drugs – and the cost to the community – through violence, road trauma, property crime, illness, injury and deaths associated with illicit drug use,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

The report found methylamphetamine use increased by two per cent, while heroin saw a larger 10 per cent increase.

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