” The use of methamphetamine and the related harms has been the subject of growing concern in Australia, with Australians rating it the drug of most concern in the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey.
The most commonly used drugs in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are tobacco, cannabis and alcohol.
However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are experiencing a disproportionate burden of harm from amphetamines, including methamphetamine.’
Download a PDF Review of methamphetamine use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
The authors of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet’s latest publication, the Review of methamphetamine use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; Drs Mieke Snijder and Stephanie Kershaw from the University of Sydney say ‘This review shows how important it is to support individuals, families and communities and the urgent need to develop more culturally appropriate resources’.
The review describes the historical and social factors that influence the use of methamphetamine among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and how family, peers and community can be protective factors, including a strong connection to culture and country.
The review highlights new and emerging programs that are being implemented to address methamphetamine use, such as the Cracks in the Ice Toolkit for community and family members, and the Novel Interventions to Address Methamphetamine Use in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities (NIMAC) study in South Australia.
This short video highlights a number of key facts about methamphetamine use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
It is based on the Review of methamphetamine use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Information covered includes:
the prevalence of methamphetamine use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
the health and social impacts of methamphetamine use
the evidence base for programs, strategies and treatment approaches for addressing harms from methamphetamine use.
There is currently no evidence on what are the most effective prevention and treatment strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for methamphetamine use, however appropriate responses need to address social determinants as well as provide treatment services.
HealthInfoNet Director, Professor Neil Drew says ‘This review summarises many publications and data into one publication which ensures those working in the sector receive an authoritative update that is both accessible and timely’.
This report expands on the key findings from the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) that were released on 1 June 2017.
It presents more detailed analysis including comparisons between states and territories and for population groups. Unless otherwise specified, the results presented in this report are for those aged 14 or older.
As Indigenous Australians constitute only 2.4 per cent of the 2016 NDSHS (unweighted) sample (or 568 respondents), the results must be interpreted with caution, particularly those for illicit drug use.
In 2016, the daily smoking rate among Indigenous Australians was considerably higher than non-Indigenous people but has declined since 2010 and 2013 (decreased from 35% in 2010 to 32% in 2013 and to 27% in 2016) (Figure 8.7). The NDSHS was not designed to detect small differences among the Indigenous population, so even though the smoking rate declined between 2013 and 2016, it was not significant.
The Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (AATSIHS) and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) were specifically designed to represent Indigenous Australians (see Box 8.1 for further information).
After adjusting for differences in age structures, Indigenous people were 2.3 times as likely to smoke daily as non-Indigenous people in 2016 (Table 8.7).
Overall, Indigenous Australians were more likely to abstain from drinking alcohol than non-Indigenous Australians (31% compared with 23%, respectively) and this has been increasing since 2010 (was 25%) (Figure 8.8).
Among those who did drink, a higher proportion of Indigenous Australians drank at risky levels, and placed themselves at harm of an alcoholrelated injury from single drinking occasion, at least monthly (35% compared with 25% for non-Indigenous).
The (rate ratio) gap in drinking rates was even greater when looking at the consumption of 11 or more standard drinks at least monthly. Indigenous Australians were 2.8 times as likely as non-Indigenous Australians to drink 11 or more standard drinks monthly or more often (18.8% compared with 6.8%).
About 1 in 5 (20%) Indigenous Australian exceeded the lifetime risk guidelines in 2016; a slight but non-significant decline from 23% in 2013, and significantly lower than the 32% in 2010. The proportion of non-Indigenous Australians exceeding the lifetime risk guidelines in 2016 was 17.0% and significantly declined from 18.1% in 2013.
Other than ecstasy and cocaine, Indigenous Australians aged 14 or older used illicit drugs at a higher rate than the general population (Table 8.6). In 2016, Indigenous Australians were: 1.8 times as likely to use any illicit drug in the last 12 months; 1.9 times as likely to use cannabis; 2.2 times as likely to use meth/amphetamines; and 2.3 times as likely to misuse pharmaceuticals as non-Indigenous people. These differences were still apparent even after adjusting for differences in age structure (Table 8.7). There were no significant changes in illicit use of drugs among Indigenous Australians between 2013 and 2016.
1 in 8 Australians smoke daily and 6 in 10 have never smoked
Smoking rates have been on a long-term downward trend since 1991, but the daily smoking rate did not significantly decline over the most recent 3 year period (was 12.8% in 2013 and 12.2% in 2016).
Among current smokers, 3 in 10 (28.5%) tried to quit but did not succeed and about 1 in 3 (31%) do not intend to quit.
People living in the lowest socioeconomic areas are more likely to smoke than people living in the highest socioeconomic area but people in the lowest socioeconomic area were the only group to report a significant decline in daily smoking between 2013 and 2016 (from 19.9% to 17.7%).
8 in 10 Australians had consumed at least 1 glass of alcohol in the last 12 months
The proportion exceeding the lifetime risk guidelines declined between 2013 and 2016 (from 18.2% to 17.1%); however, the proportion exceeding the single occasion risk guidelines once a month or more remained unchanged at about 1 in 4.
Among recent drinkers: 1 in 4 (24%) had been a victim of an alcohol-related incident in 2016; about 1 in 6 (17.4%) put themselves or others at risk of harm while under the influence of alcohol in the last 12 months; and about 1 in 10 (9%) had injured themselves or someone else because of their drinking in their lifetime.
Half of recent drinkers had undertaken at least some alcohol moderation behaviour. The main reason chosen was for health reasons.
A greater proportion of people living in Remote or very remote areas abstained from alcohol in 2016 than in 2013 (26% compared with 17.5%) and a lower proportion exceeded the lifetime risk guidelines (26% compared with 35%).
About 1 in 8 Australians had used at least 1 illegal substance in the last 12 months and 1 in 20 had misused a pharmaceutical drug
In 2016, the most commonly used illegal drugs that were used at least once in the past 12 months were cannabis (10.4%), followed by cocaine (2.5%), ecstasy (2.2%) and meth/amphetamines (1.4%).
However, ecstasy and cocaine were used relatively infrequently and when examining the share of Australians using an illegal drug weekly or more often in 2016, meth/amphetamines (which includes ‘ice’) was the second most commonly used illegal drug after cannabis.
Most meth/amphetamine users used ‘ice’ as their main form, increasing from 22% of recent meth/amphetamine users in 2010 to 57% in 2016.
Certain groups disproportionately experience drug-related risks
Use of illicit drugs in the last 12 months was far more common among people who identified as being homosexual or bisexual; ecstasy and meth/amphetamines use in this group was 5.8 times as high as heterosexual people.
People who live in Remote and very remote areas, unemployed people and Indigenous Australians continue to be more likely to smoke daily and use illicit drugs than other population groups.
The proportion of people experiencing high or very high levels of psychological distress increased among recent illicit drug users between 2013 and 2016—from 17.5% to 22% but also increased from 8.6% to 9.7% over the same period for the non-illicit drug using population (those who had not used an illicit drug in the past 12 months).
Daily smoking, risky alcohol consumption and recent illicit drug use was lowest in the Australian Capital Territory and highest in the Northern Territory.
The majority of Australians support policies aimed at reducing the acceptance and use of drugs, and the harms resulting from drug use
There was generally greater support for education and treatment and lower support for law enforcement measures.
‘In 2016, 42% of meth/amphetamine users had a mental illness, up from 29% in 2013, while the rate of mental illness among ecstasy users also rose from 18% to 27%,’ said AIHW spokesperson, Matthew James. ‘Drug use is a complex issue, and it’s difficult to determine to what degree drug use causes mental health problems, and to what degree mental health problems give rise to drug use.’
About 1 in 20 Australians reported misusing pharmaceuticals, with 75% of recent painkiller users reporting misusing an ‘over the counter’ codeine product in the past 12 months. The AIHW will be publishing more detailed data on pharmaceutical misuse later in 2017.
In addition to illicit drugs, the report also provides insights into Australians’ use of alcohol and tobacco, and notes some improvements in risky behaviour (such as driving while under the influence of alcohol), as well as improved smoking rates among people living in lower socioeconomic areas.
Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Part 3 Mental illness rising among meth/amphetamine and ecstasy users
Mental illnesses are becoming more common among meth/amphetamine and ecstasy users, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The report, National Drug Strategy Household Survey: detailed findings 2016, builds on preliminary results released in June, and gives further insight into Australians’ use of, and attitudes to, drugs and alcohol in 2016.
The report shows that among people who had recently (in the last 12 months) used an illicit drug, about 27% had been diagnosed or treated for a mental illness—an increase from 21% in 2013. Rates of mental illness were particularly high—and saw the most significant increases—for meth/amphetamine and ecstasy users.
‘In 2016, 42% of meth/amphetamine users had a mental illness, up from 29% in 2013, while the rate of mental illness among ecstasy users also rose from 18% to 27%,’ said AIHW spokesperson Matthew James.
‘Drug use is a complex issue, and it’s difficult to determine to what degree drug use causes mental health problems, and to what degree mental health problems give rise to drug use’.
Similarly, the report also reveals a complex relationship between employment status and drug use.
‘For example, people who were unemployed were about 3 times as likely to have recently used meth/amphetamines as employed people, and about 2 times as likely to use cannabis or smoke tobacco daily. On the other hand, employed people were more likely to use cocaine than those who were unemployed,’ Mr James said.
Today’s report also shows higher rates of drug use among people who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual, with the largest differences seen in the use of ecstasy and meth/amphetamines.
‘Homosexual and bisexual people were almost 6 times as likely as heterosexual people to use each of these drugs, and were also about 4 times as likely to use cocaine as heterosexual people, and 3 times more likely to use cannabis or misuse pharmaceutical drugs.’ Mr James said.
Overall, about 1 in 20 Australians reported misusing pharmaceuticals, with 75% of recent painkiller users reporting misusing an ‘over the counter’ codeine product in the past 12 months. The AIHW will be publishing comprehensive data on pharmaceutical misuse later in 2017.
‘Our report also shows that more Australians are in favour of the use of cannabis in clinical trials to treat medical conditions—87% now support its use, up from 75% in 2013. We also found that 85% of people now support legislative changes to permit its use for medical purposes in general, up from 69% in 2013,’ Mr James said.
In addition to illicit drugs, today’s report also provides insights into Australians’ use of alcohol and tobacco, and notes some improvements in risky behaviour (such as driving while under the influence of alcohol), as well as improved smoking rates among people living in lower socioeconomic areas.
The report also contains data for each state and territory in Australia, and shows differences in drug use between the jurisdictions. For example, recent use of meth/amphetamine was highest in Western Australia, but the use of cocaine was highest in New South Wales.
” The AIHW reported that ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were 1.5 times more likely to have recently used meth/amphetamine than non-Indigenous people.
According to a 2012–13 National Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, 2.7 per cent of Indigenous Australians living in non-remote areas reported the use of speed or amphetamine in the past year.
The committee heard that Australia’s Indigenous communities are at a higher risk of developing problematic crystal methamphetamine use.
Indigenous communities share the same vulnerabilities as other people found in regional and remote communities however, these vulnerabilities are more complex due to other factors such as the ‘disparity in the general health of Aboriginal Australians compared to non-Indigenous Australians’93 and the imprisonment rates of Indigenous people being ’14 times higher than the rate of non-Indigenous population’.
Extract from Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement Inquiry into crystal methamphetamine (ice) First Report September 2017 Download 162 page report Ice
The $10 million campaign has resources for parents, including the Positive Choices Online Portal, to help them learn about drugs and be able to have important conversations with their kids.
We’re also promoting the new National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline – 1800 250 015 – which links to existing state and territory alcohol and other drug telephone services that offer free and confidential support, information, counselling and referral.
We’re launching the campaign at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne – where doctors and surgeons are all too familiar with the dangers of drugs. They’ve treated people suffering from drug-induced psychosis and teenagers who have taken MDMA and gone into cardiac arrest.
It takes courage for someone to admit they may have a problem with drugs, and it’s the first step to overcoming it.
The Turnbull Government is offering more help than ever before and has committed more than $685 million over four years to reduce the impact that drug and alcohol misuse has on individuals, families and communities.
This includes the unprecedented $298 million investment over four years through the National Ice Action Strategy.
Drug use in Australia is high and continues to rise. In fact, Australia has one of the highest rates of methamphetamine use in the world.
So we need to increase our efforts against illicit drugs at every level – individuals, families, communities and governments.
And as we approach schoolies season at the end of the year, it’s important that young people and their parents are armed with the facts about drugs. That’s why the new campaign also has a focus on party drugs such as MDMA, “caps”, ecstasy and pills.
The 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey found that around 3.1 million Australians (more than 15.6 per cent) had used an illicit drug at least once in the past year. This was slightly higher than in 2013 and reflects a steady increase from 13.4 per cent in 2007.
Methamphetamine or ‘ice’ is a particular problem. Recent data from police, health and emergency services suggests the number of ice users in Australia is now well above 200,000 – with more than 60,000 of these people using it weekly or more often.
And in 2016, around 1.8 million people reported being victims of a drug-related incident.
These are truly shocking statistics and highlight the need to take action.
A 2016 report into the social costs of methamphetamine conducted by the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI) found that the social cost of methamphetamine in Australia was over $5 billion in the year studied (2013-14).
The primary contributors to this cost were: crime, including police and court costs ($3.2 billion); workplace absenteeism ($290 million); child maltreatment ($260 million); and health ($200 million).
Here you can find a range of evidence-based information and resources. They will help you to stay informed, communicate effectively and implement strategies to protect yourself or someone you care about from alcohol and drug related harm.
The Turnbull Government is teaming up with key community groups across the country to tackle the scourge of ice at a grass-roots level, with the next 40 Local Drug Action Teams rolling out.
This means there are now 80 teams across the country delivering a targeted local response to help tackle drug use and addiction.
More than 300 partnerships have now been formed between local councils, service providers, schools, police, sporting groups and non-government organisations to bring these teams together to prevent and reduce the harms of drugs.
Each team will receive an initial $10,000 to develop locally-focused drug and alcohol prevention activities, with support from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation.
The Turnbull Government is providing $19.2 million for the program which will establish 220 Local Drug Action Teams over the next three years.
The teams will deliver community-led education and mentoring programs, early intervention and prevention programs, and support for vulnerable people to minimise their risk of alcohol and other drug related harms.
This initiative is part of the Government’s $298 million investment over four years to combat illicit drug and alcohol use through the National Ice Action Strategy.
Australians are proportionally using more methamphetamine, including ice, than almost any other country. Conservative estimates suggest there are more than 200,000 ice users in Australia.
We know a community response to an issue like drug and alcohol misuse is one of the best ways to effectively prevent and reduce the harms caused by drugs.
We must also continue to stop these drugs entering Australia and we have already made significant investments in policing our borders and our streets to combat the supply of ice.
The AFP has seized over 12 tonnes of methamphetamine since January 2013. This included a 903kg haul of ice which was discovered in April this year – Australian largest methamphetamine seizure.
The first 40 Local Drug Action Teams rolled out in April this year and delivered local drug and alcohol forums for parents and students, mentoring and professional training for at-risk young people, school based reduction programs, and promoted the role of local sporting clubs.
Interested community groups can apply for the next application round, which opens in late 2017.
“These Local Drug Action Teams will provide a structure to unite communities so they can work together more effectively, They will drive community action to reduce demand for drugs such as ice and reduce the harm associated with alcohol and other drugs more broadly.
“Stronger prevention action will help individuals and families to avoid the destruction that ice is causing, especially in rural and regional communities.”
Minister for Health, Sussan Ley
A program to help local communities tackle the impact of ice through 220 community-based local action teams across Australia over the next four years was announced just before Xmas by the Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, as part of the National Ice Action Strategy.
She said that local councils, schools, police, youth services, primary health and treatment services, community groups, non-government organisations (NGOs) and community members would be eligible to be members of a Local Drug Action Team.
Funding of $19.2 million has been provided to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (formerly the Australian Drug Foundation) to administer the community-based action teams. Applications for communities wishing to form a local team opened (23 December 2016) and will close on 8 February 2017.
Ms Ley said development of community-based teams was a direct response to the Government’s National Ice Taskforce’s call for more locally-tailored strategies to address local issues to strengthen prevention activities and reduce demand for drugs such as ice.
There will be ongoing opportunities through 2017 and 2018 for communities who want to form teams but miss out in the first application process. The first group of 40 local community teams will be determined by early 2017.
The Local Drug Action Team initiative is part of the Australian Government’s investment of $298 million investment over four years to reduce the impact of drugs and alcohol.
Alcohol and Drug Foundation chief executive officer John Rogerson welcomed the partnership with the Australian Government.
“Building community partnerships to develop locally-based and locally-delivered solutions is the key to reducing alcohol and drug related harm,” he said.
“These community teams will be on the ground in your neighbourhood playing a key role in implementing unique prevention programs that are tailored to their community’s issues.
“They will also give much-needed support to those impacted by ice, other illegal drugs and alcohol.”
Ms Ley has also announced funding for expansion of a program run by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation to tackle illegal drugs by providing education and awareness programs through 1200 local sporting clubs.
The new program is an extension of the Foundation’s successful grass-roots Good Sports program, which encourages cultural change in behaviours and attitudes to drug and alcohol use in sporting clubs. The program has helped more than 7,000 clubs nationwide.
“People aged 20 to 29 years are among the highest users of illicit drugs and many people in this age group are also members of local sporting clubs,” Ms Ley said.
“This program will be an important part of encouraging these young people to talk about drugs, as well as providing information for people who might need help and support.”
“An innovative national online counselling service will help people affected by substance misuse to get the support they need.
The Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, said as part of the Australian Government’s $298.3 million National Ice Action Strategy, Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre will provide an enhanced national online counselling service to support people affected by substance misuse. “
on a range of mobile devices including smart phones and tablets.
“This new national service complements the Australian Government’s additional drug and alcohol treatment funding to Primary Health Networks ensuring a range of treatment options are available for people affected by ice or other methamphetamines and their families – no matter where they may be around the country – who want to take that vital first step and reach out to seek help,” Minister Ley said.
“The 2015 National Ice Taskforce Final Report recommended improving access to online interventions, including ice-specific counselling and self-help options, as a priority in delivering treatment and support for users and families.
“There’s also evidence that online interventions are successful in engaging people affected by drug and alcohol misuse including ice, who are less likely to seek help through more conventional face-to-face treatment services.
“More than 60 per cent of those who previously contacted Turning Point’s 24 hour counselling service were making contact for the first time, so the expansion of this service is an important resource in the fight against the scourge of ice.”
Turning Point’s expanded services now include:
a moderated peer forum that provides online communities with support and information for drug and alcohol-related issues, as well as opportunities to discuss strategies for recovery;
self-help modules with tailored guidance for individual needs; and
new tools, such as an SMS subscriber service, which sends supportive messages at critical time periods throughout the week to reduce the risk of relapse.
Minister Ley said the new free service is now available and will provide the community with 24/7 support.
If your preference is to speak to someone by phone, there are 24 hour Alcohol and Drug Information Services (ADIS) in your State:
Operated by Turning Point in Victoria and funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health, Counselling Online provides assistance to Australian residents concerned about alcohol & other drugs.
Our primary service is online text-based counselling for people concerned about their own drinking or drug use. The service is equally available to people concerned about a family member, relative or friend.
Our service also provides:
support by email
tools such as self-assessments and self-help modules
an SMS service to keep you focused and on track
an online community forum to connect you with peers for support.
Counselling Online services are free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Counselling Online has been in operation since 2006 providing an online method for people affected by alcohol & other drugs to seek help.
We understand that the stigma associated with alcohol and drug use can make it difficult for individuals to reach out for help. We provide a safe, anonymous and confidential space for people to disclose their problems and receive information and options about next steps. We aim for this interaction to be positive and judgement free so that the next step can feel far less daunting and achievable.
We aim to provide service for people at all stages of help seeking:
for first time help seekers
for people waiting for treatment
people in treatment that require additional support, particularly after hours
people who have completed treatment and want to stay on track
for people in recovery wanting to connect with others or prevent relapse
for people supporting a significant other with a drug and alcohol problem.
We understand that recovery from a drug and alcohol issue can be difficult and prone to lapse and relapse. We believe that every moment counts and even the most difficult times can be opportunities to learn, so stay connected and join our community.
Counselling Online services are provided by counselling staff with professional qualifications and experience in alcohol and drug counselling and treatment. These staff are employed by Turning Point in Victoria.
Our staff have a range of qualifications in health sciences, including Psychology, Social Work, Nursing, Psychiatric Nursing and Welfare Studies. Counselling Online staff also have specialised experience in alcohol and drug treatment delivery. This often includes experience in face-to-face alcohol and drug treatment services in the community.
Counselling Online services are delivered within a harm minimisation framework. Our counselling and support services are provided with reference to current clinical practice standards and guidelines for alcohol and drug service delivery.
Further information on the profile and training of Counselling Online staff is available on request via the feedback form.
” The study has raised particular concerns given rural Australians already have poorer health outcomes, with shorter life expectancies and significantly higher mortality rates, mental illness, chronic disease, family and domestic violence and more.
A complex, variable picture has emerged of methamphetamine use across the country, What is clear is that there has been a disproportionately larger increase in the misuse of methamphetamine, including crystal methamphetamine, in rural locations compared to other Australian locations.
At the same time, it’s very concerning there has been no increase in the number of people accessing help in rural areas. We need to urgently establish whether existing support services simply don’t have the capacity to deal with demand for drug treatment, or whether there are there significant reasons.
Contributing factors to rural drug problems include lower educational attainment, low socioeconomic status, higher unemployment, isolation and the deliberate targeting of rural communities by illegal distribution networks.
Professor Ann Roche, Director of the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction at Flinders University.
Australians is on the rise have now been confirmed with the first documented evidence released today at the APSAD Scientific Alcohol and Drugs Conference.
The study – the most detailed examination to date – found lifetime and recent methamphetamine and recent crystal methamphetamine (ice) use is significantly higher among rural than other Australians, at rates double or more.
In addition, recent crystal methamphetamine use in rural Australia has more than doubled since 2007 – increasing by 150 per cent from 0.8 per cent to 2.0 per cent of people reporting lifetime and recent use.
“For some time now there have been anecdotal reports suggesting a high and increasing level of methamphetamine use in rural Australia, but this was unsupported by evidence.
Now we have this proof, the next challenge is to understand why and determine how we can best tackle this problem,” said Professor Ann Roche, Director of the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction at Flinders University.
Significantly, more rural men and employed rural Australians use methamphetamine than their city, regional or Australian counterparts, with use most prevalent in men aged 18-25 years.
Recent methamphetamine use in rural teens aged 14-17 years also appears to be much higher than in urban areas.
The study has raised particular concerns given rural Australians already have poorer health outcomes, with shorter life expectancies and significantly higher mortality rates, mental illness, chronic disease, family and domestic violence and more.
“Our findings warrant targeted attention, especially given the pre-existing health and social vulnerabilities of rural Australians. We need tailored strategies and interventions to address this growing health problem,” said Professor Roche.
The research is being presented for the first time at the annual summit of the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs (APSAD), the APSAD Scientific Alcohol and Drugs Conference, held in Sydney from 30 October to 2 November.
Ice campaign/youth: Did the federal government’s campaign, ‘What are you doing on ice’ really work?
Barriers to treatment: What are the most significant obstacles preventing people seeking treatment for their methamphetamine use? Available upon request
Women/Methamphetamines: A look at the specific treatment barriers faced by women and how to overcome them.
The global burden of methamphetamine disorders: An overview of the proportion of disease burden attributable to substance use disorders and differences in the distribution and burden of amphetamine use disorders between countries, age, sex, and year.
New treatment for methamphetamine addiction: Treatment options for methamphetamine dependence are currently limited, but a drug licensed in Australia for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder could be an important innovation.
Comorbid mental and substance use disorders: The top 10 causes of burden of disease in young Australians (15-24 years) are dominated by mental health and substance use disorders.
OTHER MONDAY HIGHLIGHTS
Opening by The Hon. (Pru) Prudence Jane Goward, MP NSW Minister for Medical Research, Minister for Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, and Assistant Minister for Health
Cannabis as Medicine in Australia: Where are we now, where are we heading to, where might we end up? Professor Nicholas Lintzeris
Friend or Enemy? Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Gallop, Director, Graduate School of Government, University of Sydney and Former Premier of Western Australia
About APSAD Sydney 2016
The APSAD Scientific Alcohol and Drugs Conference is the southern hemisphere’s largest summit on alcohol and other drugs attracting leading researchers, clinicians, policy makers and community representatives from across the region. The Conference is run by the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs (APSAD), Asia Pacific’s leading multidisciplinary organisation for professionals involved in the alcohol and other drug field.
This year’s theme: Strengthening Our Future through Self Determination
As you are aware, the 2016 NACCHO Members’ Meeting and Annual General Meeting will be in Melbourne this year 6-8 December
” It is generally agreed responses to alcohol and other drug use in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities should be community owned and driven.
The Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS) in Victoria, for example, has conducted research to advocate for service improvement. MDAS developed a short film where Aboriginal people discuss how they have reduced their own ice use and ice use in their families.
This work highlights the vital role of families in helping people to give up using ice and avoid relapse. The Family Wellbeing Program has been shown to empower Aboriginal individuals and families to take greater control of their lives “
While rates of methamphetamine use in Australia have remained fairly stable at 2.1% over the past ten years, there has been a shift among people who use the lower-grade powdered form of methamphetamine (speed) to using the higher-grade crystal form (ice) in recent times.
Ice is much stronger than speed and has the potential to cause greater problems.
As a result, Australia has seen significant increases in ambulance call-outs, hospital visits, people seeking treatment and police arrests related to methamphetamine use.
There has been particular concern about increases in methamphetamine use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. So what do we know about ice in these communities? And what are the effective responses?
Rates of use
Across Australia, around 2.3% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 15 years and over report using methamphetamines in the past year. This is similar to the general population rate of 2.1%.
Methamphetamine use in remote Aboriginal communities appears to be very limited. Only 0.8% of the remote area population uses methamphetamine. Like the general population, the greater percentage of users are in the cities.
However, there are concerns this may be changing. Remote areas, which are largely populated by Aboriginal communities, showed an increase in recent use of methamphetamine between 2010 and 2013.
The data is limited, but the rate of Aboriginal people seeking treatment for methamphetamine-related problems seems to be following the same upward trend as other people who use. Service providers report the use of ice in particular has increased among young Aboriginal people.
Although there is no widely available medicine to treat methamphetamine dependence, psychological treatment is effective. One study found people who use methamphetamine have the best treatment outcomes of all alcohol and other drug users.
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing (MI) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) are both effective, as is residential rehabilitation. As little as two sessions of CBT and MI increases abstinence, even among heavily dependent users.
The evidence is limited for mutual support groups, such as 12-Step (Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous) and SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training). But this type of post-treatment support may increase the chances of maintaining abstinence. Peer worker or telephone contact are other options, but there is little methamphetamine-specific research.
The overall relapse rate after treatment, however, is high and there are few ongoing supports after treatment.
Although Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people access these interventions through both mainstream and Aboriginal-specific services, little is known about their outcomes.
Prison diversion programs
There are a number of mechanisms through which people who use drugs can access treatment via the justice system.
Drug courts, for instance, divert illicit drug users from the prison system into treatment. These operate in most states and have been found to be effective.
Aboriginal people are heavily over-represented in the justice system, but participation rates in drug court programs varies. Where drug courts have taken a collaborative approach to design and implementation, working closely with Aboriginal and other organisations, participation rates are higher.
Improving access to treatment and support
It is generally agreed responses to alcohol and other drug use in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities should be community owned and driven.
The Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS) in Victoria, for example, has conducted research to advocate for service improvement. MDAS developed a short film where Aboriginal people discuss how they have reduced their own ice use and ice use in their families.
This work highlights the vital role of families in helping people to give up using ice and avoid relapse. The Family Wellbeing Program has been shown to empower Aboriginal individuals and families to take greater control of their lives. This may involve re-engaging in education and employment, addressing challenges such as family conflict and advocating for community services and support.
MDAS is partnering with La Trobe University to evaluate whether the program is a useful add-on to alcohol and drug treatment in supporting individuals and families who are affected by ice use.
The Victorian government has made some progress in improving treatment and support. It has piloted an 18-month program to link mainstream specialist services with Aboriginal services. The aim is to build the capacity of both sectors to respond specifically to Aboriginal people and their families who are affected by the use of methamphetamine. The pilot is under evaluation.
But there is plenty of room for improvement. Both the Aboriginal and generalist drug and alcohol workforce have identified a need to be better skilled in responding to the needs of Aboriginal people who use methamphetamine.
Culturally appropriate harm-reduction strategies are critical for people who continue to use methamphetamine. Indigenous people in the United States, for example, have successfully used culturally targeted education and social marketing, plus individual and family treatment, to reduce methamphetamine-related incidents and arrests.
“I am proud the Coalition Government produced landmark policy that is not only tough on criminals who supply this drug, but also invests $300 million over four years into treatment to reduce demand and support families and communities being hurt by ice,”
“To break the ice dealer’s business model, we have to smash demand”
“Labor refused to renew the Coalition’s anti-ice advertising campaign in 2009. Ice use tripled between mid-2009 and mid-2013.
“Despite daily misgivings by certain Labor figures, there have been no funding cuts to Indigenous Health services. Any claim otherwise is false. Furthermore, our treatment funding will benefit many rural and indigenous communities.”
Senator Fiona Nash
Pictured above (Picture Wayne Quilliam ) speaking at the 2015 NACCHO ICE Summit
New figures from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Council revealing ice use tripled between 2009-10 and 2013-14 show the Coalition Government was right to form a taskforce and back its recommendations with a $300 million investment over four years, Minister responsible for drug and alcohol policy Fiona Nash said today.
Minister Nash, along with Justice Minister Michael Keenan, announced a National Ice Taskforce in April 2015.
The anti-ice advertising campaign was renewed soon after. The government’s response to the Taskforce’s final report, released in December 2015, featured a historic $300 million investment into treatment and prevention.
This near doubling of federal treatment funding aims to smash the drug dealer’s model by getting people off ice, reducing demand for their deadly drug. Treatment delivery had been traditionally funded by the states.
“I am proud the Coalition Government produced landmark policy that is not only tough on criminals who supply this drug, but also invests $300 million over four years into treatment to reduce demand and support families and communities being hurt by ice,” Minister Nash said.
“To break the ice dealer’s business model, we have to smash demand.
“I’m proud that our funding will be delivered through local Primary Health Networks. Local knowledge is better than Canberra hypothesising. I’m proud that we reinstated anti-ice advertising, which Stancombe research found had convinced 51 per cent of at-risk youth who saw the ads to avoid using ice.
“Labor refused to renew the Coalition’s anti-ice advertising campaign in 2009. Ice use tripled between mid-2009 and mid-2013.
“Despite daily misgivings by certain Labor figures, there have been no funding cuts to Indigenous Health services. Any claim otherwise is false. Furthermore, our treatment funding will benefit many rural and indigenous communities.
“Our treatment funding boost over four years gives the sector unprecedented certainty and was backed by Mental Health Australia, Suicide Prevention Australia, the Public Health Association of Australia, the Consumers Health forum, and was applauded by the Australian Drug Foundation.”
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“Too many families are dealing with the devastating effects of ice. This innovative education program will provide them with the knowledge and skills to look after themselves and support their loved ones through treatment.”
“We know that a strong, supportive family can make all the difference for people struggling with ice addiction. That’s why the Ice Action Plan is investing $4.7 million to support families, particularly in regional areaswhere we know ice has hit hard.”
Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley
Victorian families affected by ice can now access a new, specialised education program as part of the Andrews Labor Government’s $45.5 million Ice Action Plan.
Breakthrough: ice education for families will help Victorians to recognise when a family member has a problem with ice, encourage the affected person to get treatment and support them through their recovery.
Turning Point, Self Help Addiction Resource Centre (SHARC) and the Bouverie Centre developed the program and will deliver it to more than 1000 Victorians.
ABOUT THIS WORKSHOP
Turning Point, SHARC and Bouverie Family Therapy Centre, are pleased to offer BreakThrough, Ice education for families. Facilitators from Turning Point and SHARC will be delivering a number of four hour education sessions to families who have been affected by ICE, a potent crystalline form of methamphetamine. Over the course of the workshop the following information will be discussed.
Topic 1 – The Facts
Types of drug use
ICE and effects
Withdrawal and recovery
Stages of change
Topic 2 – Family Strategies
• Responding to challenging behaviours
• Self-care for family members
• Outline a safety plan for all family members
Topic 3 – Help Seeking
• Seeking support, assistance and professional help
Among the scheduled workshops for 2015 are:
Cranbourne – Wednesday 18 and 25 November
Traralgon – Tuesday 24 November
Fitzroy – Wednesday 25 November and 9 December
Melton – Friday 27 November
Bacchus Marsh -Sunday 6 December
Werribee – Wednesday 2 and 9 December
Prahran – Wednesday 9 and 16 December
More workshops will be scheduled across the State for 2016.
Victoria’s Ice Action Plan is investing $4.7 million to support families affected by ice. This involves $1.48 million for new family ice education and $3.2 million for 16 community health services across Victoria to expand family support services.
Quotes attributable to Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre Director Dan Lubman
“This is a great opportunity for three major state-wide services to work collaboratively to reduce the harms associated with ice use in our community.”
“This program aims to provide an insight into what ice is, how it affects people and how to support family members into treatment. We will also provide practical approaches in caring for a family member who might be using ice.”
Illicit drug use is associated with many risks of harm to the user and to their family and friends. People who use illicit drugs place themself at risk of health problems, exposure to violence, family breakdown, crime and housing difficulties
Winner: photo of the year (above ) Gary Ramage’s ‘Ice Nation’ portrays the scene as a man named Bill is in the throes of an ice-induced medical emergency. It took nine hospital staff including security guards to restrain the man before he could be treated by a medical crew. The judges said Gary’s work had great social impact and they praised him for telling the story of one of Australia’s most significant social problems ‘without stigmatising the victim, and with empathy for everyone in the room’.
AIHW Report Trends in methylamphetamine availability, use and treatment 2003–04 to 2013–14 Released October 2015
Illicit drug use is associated with many risks of harm to the user and to their family and friends. The Harms associated with methylamphetamine, especially its crystal (ice) form are particularly concerning, and can result in significantly harmful long-term psychological and physical effects. Changes in the use of methylamphetamine have been one area of increasing concern among health professionals and the Australian community.
Terminology for methylamphetamine – commonly referred to as methamphetamine or “meth” – varies across data sources.
Not all data sources collect data on methylamphetamine specifically; some use the broader classes of drugs, amphetamines, amphetamine-type stimulants, or “meth/amphetamines”, in which methylamphetamine belongs. Box 2 provides a description of each of the terms used throughout this report.
Production and supply of amphetamine-type stimulants has been increasing.
In recent years, arrest, seizure and detection data indicate that production and supply of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) is rapidly increasing, both in Australia and internationally. Over the four years since 2009-10 detections (the identification of illicit drugs at the Australian border) increased by 86% between 2011-12 and 2012-13, and a further 18% in 2013-14, and the total weight of these detections in 2013-14 was 27 times as high as it was in 2009-10. The total number of arrests for ATS increased – accounting for 15% of all arrests in 2009-10 and 23% in 2013-14.
Methylamphetamine is consistently reported as very accessible.
As well as consistent prices, methylamphetamine purity has remained consistently high since 2008, particularly for crystal, and all forms of methylamphetamine have been consistently reported as “easy” or “very easy” to obtain since 2007.
The form of methylamphetamine used has changed from powder to crystal in recent years.
While the proportion of the population who used meth/amphetamines in the last 12 months declined between 2004 and 2013 (from 3.2% to 2.1%) more recently there has been substantial change in the form of methylamphetamine used- from powder to crystal (ice). More of those who recently used methylamphetamine in 2013 reported crystal as the main form used (50% of recent users) compared with powder (29% or recent users).
Between 2010 and 2013, there has been an increase in new users of “meth/amphetamine”, especially crystal.
In 2013, a larger proportion of recent users had first used “meth/amphetamines” – 34% compared with 27% in both 2007 and 2010. This cohort of new users is opting mainly for crystal rather than the powder form of “meth/amphetamines”.
Since 2004, there has been a shift in the pattern of recent “meth/amphetamine” use by socioeconomic status, remoteness area and Indigenous status.
In 2013, recent users of “meth/amphetamine” were more commonly aged 20-29 and most likely to be male. In 2004, people living in the two most advantaged socioeconomic status (SES) quintiles were the more likely to be recent users of meth/amphetamine. However, by 2010 they were the least likely to be users. Since 2007, people living in Remote and very remote areas and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (hereafter referred to as “Indigenous Australians”) were more likely to be recent “methamphetamine” users.
Since 2009-10 the number of episodes for clients injecting and smoking amphetamines has increased.
Over the 5 years to 2013-14, the number of episodes for clients both injecting and smoking (clients who reported “smoking or “inhaling”) amphetamines increased, while use via other methods, remained relatively stable. Clients who smoke amphetamines are most likely to have never injected drugs, indicating that these clients are a different type of user. While characteristically, injectors and smokers appear to be relatively similar, there are some noticeable differences – more young people smoke that inject and slightly more females and Indigenous Australians inject than smoke.
In 2013, around 2.9 million people in Australia reported they had used illicit drugs in the previous 12 months (AIHW 2014). Both nationally and internationally, the proportion of people using illicit drugs has remained relatively stable over the last 10 years—15% of adults in Australia in 2013, and globally around 5% of the adult population in 2010 (AIHW 2014, UNODC 2012). However, usage patterns continue to change. Changes in the use of methylamphetamine have been one area of increasing concern among health professionals and the Australian community.
The harms associated with methylamphetamine, especially its crystal (ice) form, are particularly concerning. Crystal is highly addictive and causes disruption to an individual’s brain function. Crystal use can also result in harmful long-term psychological and physical effects, such as paranoia, substance dependence, memory loss, liver damage and cardiovascular diseases (Darke et al. 2007).
In Australia, the National Drug Strategy (NDS) has provided the overarching framework for addressing licit and illicit drug use since 1985. The broad aims of the NDS are to prevent and reduce the uptake and misuse of drugs, the production and supply of illicit drugs and the negative social, economic and health consequences of drug use. The NDS addresses the production and use of methylamphetamine in a number of ways (see Box 1 for further details).
Due to the significant negative consequences of methylamphetamine use (crystal specifically) on individuals and their families, the Australian Government has launched a National Ice Taskforce to develop the National Ice Action Strategy to address the use of ice and its impacts.
The taskforce delivered an interim report to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on 23 July 2015 and the strategy will be delivered to COAG by the end of 2015 <http://www.dpmc.gov.au/taskforces/national-ice-taskforce>. Alcohol and other drug treatment services (AODTS) play an important role in efforts to reduce the recent trends in methylamphetamine use (AIHW 2011).
This report presents data on the use, availability and market activity of methylamphetamine over the period 2003–04 to 2013–14 and compares these with trends in drug treatment. The analyses presented in this report provide insights for policy makers and practitioners to tailor intervention strategies and services to reduce the harms associated with methylamphetamine. They also indicate possible areas for further, more targeted research. See Box 2 for an explanation of terminology used in this report.