Good signs but war on drugs not over yet

Out of 23 countries with comparable data for four common stimulants, MDMA, cocaine, amphetamine and methylamphetamine, Australia has the second highest consumption overall after the United States.

In South Australia however, methylamphetamine, more commonly known as meth, consumption levels have dropped.

Although these figures show the declines are clear reversals in longer term trends, meth is still the most used drug in the state.

South Australia’s estimated annual consumption was the second highest, after Western Australia, at 83 per cent of consumption per drug type nationally.

Although we can not pinpoint where the regional tests were taken, the trend shows meth is still a huge problem nationally and in SA.

While more specific data would be useful on a local level this research provides law enforcement, policy, regulatory and health agencies with the data they need to allocate funding and shape support services. 

Last year the Port Lincoln Drug Action Team ran a survey on drug and alcohol misuse in the community and those results, though probably limited, found the top two most prolific drugs were alcohol and tobacco followed by prescription medication and methamphetamine, and then ecstasy. 

That survey, while not based on scientific evidence, gave that group a starting point for discussions around drug use and helped them identify local support gaps. 

The latest report of the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program also revealed that South Australians in regional areas are drinking about half that of their Adelaide counterparts.

The report also found alcohol consumption in regional areas from August 2016 until April 2018 was significantly below the national average and relatively low.

And that is a pretty positive step for a country with such a well-known drinking culture.

So hopefully the results of the national monitoring program can actually yield some results and – dare we suggest it – some funding.

These issues are much bigger than Port Lincoln but they do need to continue to be addressed at a local  level, but that can only happen with a whole community effort and the right investment.