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NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug “Ice”: Trends in use and harms

Professor Michael Farrell
Date Published:
8 May 2019

NDARC’s Director, Professor Michael Farrell was the opening witness on the first day of public hearings for the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug “Ice”. Professor Farrell presented on trends in methamphetamine use and harms. He told the Inquiry:

  • Figures from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey showed that recent use of methamphetamine had remained relatively stable at 2.1 per cent of the population.
  • However, harms were increasing driven by a shift towards the use of the crystal form of the drug – up from 22 per cent in 2010 to 57 per cent in 2016.
  • Young people were likely to smoke crystal methamphetamine, resulting in a new wave of young users recruited through smoking.
  • The number of users using weekly or more had more than doubled from 9 per cent in 2010 to 20 per cent in 2016.
  • Separate estimates produced by NDARC for 2013-2014 found there were 268,000 regular users and 160,000 dependent users (aged 15–54 years).
  • The highest rates of regular and dependent use were consistently among those aged 25–34 years, in whom the rate of dependent use during 2012–2013 was estimated to be 1.50 per cent. There had also been an increase in the rate of dependent use among those aged 15–24 years.
  • An NDARC study on methamphetamine related deaths found that deaths from methamphetamine use had doubled to 1,500 from 2009 to 2015.
  • Only 8 per cent of those who had died were in treatment.
  • 41 per cent of the deaths occurred in rural and regional areas and 59 per cent occurred in metropolitan areas.

Professor Farrell’s presentation can be found here.

More information about the Special Commission of Inquiry can be found here.