WA leads nation in ice use

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WA is leading the country in methamphetamine use and those who take the drug are turning to the pure form of crystal or ice in record numbers, an extensive national survey has found.

Australian Medical Association WA president Michael Gannon has described the findings of the 2013 national drug strategy household survey as horrifying.

The drug was a scourge damaging individuals, families and the community. "We have got a real problem," Dr Gannon said.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report reveals that despite illicit drug use in WA decreasing from 18.6 per cent in 2010 to 17 per cent last year, it continues to be higher than the national average of 15 per cent and is second only to the rate in the Northern Territory.


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The survey, which collected information from nearly 24,000 people, also shows the 3.8 per cent of people aged over 13 in WA who reported using methamphetamine in the past 12 months was above the 2.2 per cent rate nationally.

Of those users, the number taking it in WA in the form crystal or ice - which is usually the most pure form - rose from 43.9 per cent to 78.2 per cent, well above the national comparisons of 21.7 per cent and 50.4 per cent respectively.

The report reveals West Australians are also riskier drinkers than their counterparts in most other States and Territories. In WA, 21.6 per cent of people were in a category of risky drinking, which is drinking on average more than two standard drinks a day. This compared with 18.28 per cent nationally. The percentage in the risky category increased to 32.4 for men aged 30 to 39, compared with 26.58 Australia-wide.

The survey showed a national decline in smokers. The fall from 16.5 per cent to 12.5 per cent in WA over the past three years was noted as statistically significant.

Dr Gannon said an increase in disposable income during the WA boom had made ice accessible.

Education and people accepting responsibility for what they put in their bodies were keys to tackling the problem.

"The problem with amphetamine in whatever form, but especially ice, is it is highly addictive," he said. "By the time you have used it for the second or third time it is addictive."

National Drug Research Institute director Steve Allsop said a young population, high disposable incomes and a "work hard, play hard" attitude were contributing factors to the prevalence of methamphetamine use in WA.

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