AUSTRALIANS are the third biggest users of methamphetamine in the world, behind only Czechia and The United States per 1000 people, and it's regional areas that are behind the startling figures.
The 10th National Wastewater Drug Monitoring survey paints a bleak picture of regional Australia and its dependence on illicit drugs.
While alcohol and nicotine remain the clear drug of choice across the country, the prevalence on methamphetamine is now stark, considering reductions in the use of other hard drugs like heroin and cocaine in recent years.
The data is collected through samples from 53 wastewater treatment plants, including 11 in Victoria, nine of which are based in regional areas. It covers 43 per cent of the Australian population, or just over 10 million people.
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The report says; "Consumption of most drugs since August 2016 has been higher per capita in regional sites, with the exception of cocaine and heroin".
"For illicit drugs and drugs with abuse potential, this has implications for response options and how we understand drug supply routes.
"Current use of methamphetamine at the national level fits a long-term upward trend, starting in mid-2017.
"The average regional use of methamphetamine was above that of capital city sites at more than 1600 mg per thousand people per day."
Chief Executive of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission Michael Phelan said much of Australia's crime is in someway linked to illegal drug use.
"Serious and organised crime groups profit from the importation, manufacture, trafficking and sale of drugs that cause harm to the community," Mr Phelan said.
"Illicit drugs and licit drugs with abuse potential are inherently harmful.
"Reliable drug consumption data is a useful indicator of the level of harm experienced by the community, because logically the level of harm to the community is a function of the quantity of the substance that is consumed.
"Understanding drug consumption at a population level supports the effective allocation of resources to priority areas. It also allows monitoring of the progress of demand, supply and harm reduction strategies."
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