Crystal meth becoming pandemic

Crystal meth is reaching pandemic levels in Australia, similar to the explosion of crack cocaine in the US, according to a snapshot of the illicit drug market.

The accessibility, affordability and destructive side effects of methylamphetamine - especially crystalline methylamphetamine or "ice" - has emerged as the major drug-related problem confronting authorities.

The Australian Crime Commission's 2012-13 Illicit Drug Data Report, to be released today, paints a "gravely serious" picture, with seizures and arrests at record or decade highs for almost all drug types.

But ACC acting chief executive Paul Jevtovic singled out the entrenched and evolving market for ice as a national concern.

"Crystal methylamphetamine is emerging as a pandemic akin to the issue of 'crack' cocaine in the US," he said, referring to the surge in cocaine users in America in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Nationwide, a record 86,918 drug seizures and 101,749 arrests were reported in 2012-13, with cannabis continuing to dominate the market, accounting for 61 per cent of arrests and seizures.

Arrests over amphetamine-type stimulants, which include amphetamine and methylamphetamine, were at a record 22,189 in 2012-13, however the number of clandestine labs where such drugs are made were down nationally and in WA.

WA recorded the biggest growth in the number and weight of cocaine seizures, up 215.9 per cent and 583.4 per cent respectively, but cocaine arrests in WA were still well behind those in NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

The report highlighted the growth in performance-enhancing drugs - such as anabolic steroids and pharmaceuticals - with detections up 751.6 per cent to 10,356 in 2012-13.

Steroid arrests were up 29.4 per cent to 661, arrests in WA increasing 55 per cent from 65 to 101.

Mr Jevtovic said the figures, though disturbing, showed the continued vigilance and achievements of law enforcement in combating the illicit drug trade.

The West Australian

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