To no one’s surprise, cocaine use has soared in Australia over the last few years with some jaw-dropping stats being reported by The Sydney Morning Herald.
The latest report is taken from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre who surveyed over 22,000+ people. In it, they found the biggest leap in usage since reporting began and that nearly 1 in 24 Australians has gotten on the nose beers in 2019 alone.
Some takeaways from the report;
- 4.2 per cent of people 14 and over said they used the drug at least once in 2019, up from 2.5%
- One in seven men in their 20s (14.4 per cent of those surveyed) and nearly one in 10 women in their 20s (9.4 per cent) reported cocaine use in the previous 12 months.
- In NSW, cocaine users jumped from 3.4 per cent of those surveyed to 5 per cent between 2016 and 2019
- Victorian use more than doubled from 2.5 per cent of respondents to 5.2 per cent during the same period.
- More than 98 per cent of cocaine users were aged between 20 and 49 and men were more likely to report use than women.
- People who use cocaine increasingly report finding it easy to obtain. Half of users expressed this in 2003, this has steadily increased to 70 per cent in the latest survey.
Alongside the survey the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission analysed wastewater from nearly half the population. They estimated that 5.7 tonnes of cocaine was consumed in 2019-20, up 85.6 per cent from 3 tonnes in 2016-17.
So which states are diving deep into the white stuff? NSW accounted for more than half of the estimated cocaine use, consuming 3 tonnes in 2019-20, compared to Victoria’s 1.2 tonnes and Queensland’s 900kg. SA, ACT and NT rounded up the rear.
As expected Sydney was found to be the epicentre of cocaine use consuming a daily average o 15 ‘doses’ per 1000 people in October 2020. This compared to Melbourne’s six doses per 1000 people, Brisbane’s five and Canberra’s 10.
Shane Neilson, the ACIC’s head was understandably unimpressed with the results and pointed out “There is a total disconnect between a social setting in NSW and the ruthless transnational crime groups that supply cocaine,” adding “The local dealer might be that nice young bloke but further up the food chain, it’s always going back to organised crime,”
With Australians paying some of the most expensive prices for cocaine in the world, the continent is always going to be a prime marketplace for organised crime. This is reflected in record seizures over the last few years but seems to only represent a drop in the ocean for what is coming across the borders in terms of usage.
Adding to this is a reported $9.3b spent annually on drugs in 2018 alone means Australia will continue to be a ripe marketplace with willing buyers.
Maybe its time for governments and their policing agencies to try something new? This could include drug testing, such as what is and has been happening in Europe and the UK for decades and honest education around drugs in schools.
What do you think needs to happen to solve the cocaine problem in Australia?